An Angel on Earth – President’s Pick 16th Annual Essay Contest

Carlo Rodriguez

Will I ever have a girlfriend?  Will I ever be married or have children?

These are questions a ten-year-old boy should not have to ask at such a young age, but I did. I always wondered what my life would be like in ten to twenty more years and if I would even be alive to experience it. You may be wondering why I asked myself these questions when, well, by the age of ten, I had already experienced many health issues. I was born with a rare condition known as “Prune Belly Syndrome.” Due to its complications, one of my kidneys completely failed at birth. Luckily, the other one was good enough to keep me going.

I required many surgeries at a young age and was in and out of the hospital. There were times where it seemed like the hospital was my second home. I didn’t experience hope or faith. I felt so different from children my age. It seemed to me as if my life was always getting worse instead of better. When I turned 20, I was informed that my only working kidney was not functioning well anymore and I would have to start Dialysis. Thankfully, I found a kidney donor and was on dialysis for only eight months before I received my transplant.

I was always afraid I would be judged and unwanted because of my health, but she saw me for me and not my health issues.

After receiving a kidney transplant I tried living a normal life, but my health was still an obstacle for me. I battled through each day hoping for a better tomorrow. That came the day I found the woman I now call my wife. Just when I thought my life was only full of pain and suffering I found “An Angel on Earth,” my wife. I was always afraid I would be judged and unwanted because of my health, but she saw me for me and not my health issues.

Together we have experienced some of the toughest years of my life. Due to some complications, I am now back on dialysis waiting for a second transplant. Battling kidney disease is very difficult. It can also be very depressing and draining but some days are better than others. I have had many rough days, but my wife has inspired me and pushed me to keep fighting for a better tomorrow. She is always the one to encourage me when I am down. She is always with me at each treatment and never leaves my side. I go to dialysis four times a week for two hours a day. Sometimes I get very emotional thinking that four days a week I am sitting in a chair instead of being home with my family. My wife encourages me to make the best of the days and hours that I do have off because every day is a new blessing.

Living life with end stage renal disease is not easy, but having my wife in my life has given me a reason to fight and see life differently. There might be limitations, but nothing is impossible. I, who thought all hope was lost and that I would never have a girlfriend let alone a wife, have now been happily married for six years. Kidney disease can’t and will not stop me from accomplishing any of my dreams. My wife has encouraged me to see my dialysis treatments as a work shift at a job. Instead of thinking that I have to go to treatment, she tells me instead to think that I have to go to work. A job in which I will work to feel better and live a healthier life. My wife makes me see the positive in every negative situation and inspires me to keep fighting. Kidney disease does not stop me, so don’t let it stop you!

Carlo Rodriguez is 30 years old and lives in California. On his days off from dialysis treatments he enjoys spending time with his wife and family. They watch movies, play board games, and he loves to barbecue on weekends with them. He is a BIG sports fanatic especially when it comes to football season!


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