Brash Observations, Now That I Am Fifty and Fabulous!

By: Lori Hartwell

kidney disease survivor turns 50 - Lori Hartwell

Lori Hartwell (RSN President) has lived with kidney disease for 48 years and shares a few things she has learned while traveling the journey of life.

So many times, I’ve heard people whining about the fact that their next birthday is coming up. Some people won’t reveal their age, like it is some kind of shameful tattoo.

kidney disease survivor turns 50 - Lori Hartwell
My friend Rebecca can be so dramatic.

I, on the other hand, like to brag about my age! On July 24, I will celebrate my 50th birthday with the same excitement and enthusiasm I would have if I won the lottery.

Kidney disease survivor turns 50 - lori hartwell
Well played.

After all, I have lived with kidney disease since the age of 2. I’ve beaten the odds on so many occasions that if it were a betting game, the pit bosses in a Vegas casino would have me banned from the tables!


Kidney disease survivor turns 50 - Lori Hartwell
What was I thinking, Madame Butterfly?

Having a serious illness can be scary, but I have learned over the years if you are your own advocate, pick your healthcare team carefully, and never give up – anything is possible!

Kidney disease survivor turns 50 - Lori Hartwell
Team Hartwell: Me, my husband Dean and mother-in-law Carol.

Seek adventure when you can.  Segways are fun, but during this ride I think I saw my life flash before my eyes a couple of times.  This pic is taken at the top of hill.  We had to ride up a narrow path on the side of cliff to get there. If you stop, you fall off!  Before you sign anything, make sure to read the fine print.  Tourist destinations often say we are not responsible for any injuries and you have to pay for any equipment broken.  Yikes, lucky for all of us we left there in one piece.

Lori Hartwell - you are a work of art
You are a work of art.

The outlines of my life are clearer, and I’ve put myself in many frames for many important shows. I see the value of treating myself like a precious work of art. Don’t put yourself down if you have a few imperfections! My scars are a reminder that I am a survivor; I have some surgery street cred to prove it. I am happy to say that my age is finally surpassing the number of surgeries I have had.

Kidney disease survivor turns 50 - Lori Hartwell
Prom Queen “Once Upon a Prom” 17th Annual Renal Teen Prom

The lesson for me and for you is never, and I mean never, give up on your dreams! Fast forward to age 50, and I have successfully organized 17 proms for teens who suffer from the same illness as me. I can now call myself a Prom Queen, and I have a courageous peer group to be inspired by!When I was 18 years old, relying upon dialysis after 2 failed transplants, I missed the social whirl of high school and being recognized by my peers. I was the short girl with the illness who missed so much school that when I graduated I didn’t know even one person in my class.

Kidney disease survivor turns 50 - Lori Hartwell
Last but not least, I treat every day like it is a “gift”: that is why they call it the “present”!  Speaking of presents, if you don’t know what to get me, I am registered for this fabulous Pink Bentley. Or you can make a donation to Renal Support Network.  Happy Birthday to me!

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