“Do you see the cloud elephant?” asked Mom. I looked up at the billowing clouds, studying each. Finally, I noticed one shaped like an elephant, “There it is,” I exclaimed excitedly that I had found it. “You sure did,” Mom replied. Then she asked, “What do you see in the clouds?” I watched them, studying each one, and said, “I see a cloud that would be perfect for Valentine’s Day.” Mom studied the sky then said, “Is it the heart-shaped cloud?” “Yeah, you found it,” I said. “It’s getting chilly out,” Mom said, “with your kidney’s having problems we had better go in the house.” “Do we have to?” I asked. “Yes, but if we hurry, we could read one more chapter of The Bobbsey Twins,” Mom promised.
My mother taught me to use my imagination by seeing shapes of things, like elephants and hearts, in the clouds. She also introduced new worlds to me by reading books together.
Forty-five years later, I watched the scarlet drop fall and wondered what life would be like now? Kidney problems again? I didn’t want to believe it. A kind doctor came in and told me I would be starting dialysis the next day. I wondered if anything else was wrong. Why did I need a blood transfusion for kidney failure?
“Sorry to wake you,” said Dr. Schonrock, my primary care physician. “How are you this morning?”
“I’m still processing having end stage renal failure,” I replied.
“It’s always hard getting news like that. The good news is, I think you might be a good candidate for a kidney transplant,” She said.
We continued our conversation discussing kidney failure, dialysis, and what I needed to do to get on the waiting list for a donor kidney. “Do you have any other questions?” Dr. Schonrock asked.
After finding out about my diagnosis, one of my first questions was, “Why did I need a transfusion for kidney problems?”
“One of the kidney’s functions keeps you from becoming anemic.” Dr. Schonrock explained.
Since asking that question, I have asked many more. The more I learn the better I can handle life with health challenges.
One thing I learned is how kind people can be. The morning after I had my first dialysis treatment, a very kind-hearted nurse brought me some books she had finished reading. Apparently, she noticed the books I had brought from home. The ones she gave me were the kind that I read. So many kind people blessed my life during this challenging time. Neighbors, friends, members of my church, and others supported us by bringing meals, calling to see how I was doing, and bringing gifts to cheer me up. Also, many knowledgeable healthcare professionals and the Renal Support Network shared their knowledge and their kindness to help improve my life. I have been blessed with an amazing family who have supported me every step of the way. I wouldn’t have made it without them. Daily, I look for other blessings. There are always some, even on stormy days.
Finding ways to make dreams come true is so important to getting through challenging times. I appreciated in-center dialysis and peritoneal dialysis, but I wanted to get a kidney transplant. I completed all the tests to be eligible to get a donor kidney. Once called as a possible back-up recipient. Unfortunately, I ended up in the hospital with pancreatitis and diabetes. I was so discouraged. Would I ever be able to get back on the active transplant list? About a year later, after more testing, I got the call I dreamed about and received a transplant.
Now, with my transplanted kidney working well so far, do I still ask questions? Yes. I try to work to make my dreams happen. I use my imagination to improve my life. Am I noticing my blessings? Yes, with COVID-19, and many other challenges that face us, I find these steps are needed in these stormy times to find peace and happiness.
Debra Dansie Anderson had kidney problems from the age of five to eleven. At the age of twelve, she seemed to be well and did not have more kidney problems until year’s later. In 2007 she again had more kidney problems and was put on hemodialysis and later went on peritonel dialysis. She received a kidney transplant in 2014 on Easter Sunday. Her greatest joy was being a wife to Terry (he recently passed away) and being a mother of two children her son Chris and daughter Jennifer. She worked as a school crossing guard which she did for nearly twenty years. Her school crossing children loved the fact that she dressed in costumes for all the holidays. She had the opportunity to work on many events for the City of West Jordan including Healthy West Jordan, Fourth of July Parade Committee, West Jordan City Health and Safety Fair, and other events. She also was involved in PTA in her children’s schools. She enjoys reading, writing, travel, and time with friends and family.
I have so enjoyed reading the entries from prior years with the great information and encouragement they gave me that I decided to enter this years contest hoping my experiences also would be helpful to other kidney patient’s.
More Essays by Debra Anderson
A Summer Day Picnic, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay Contest
Web ID 5070