Time had stood still. Stunned into a silence, we felt our lives suspended by a thin, fragile rope with uncertainty looming large. Our fifteen and a half-year old son’s kidneys were nearly shut down. “Chronic kidney failure,” was the words used by the specialist. The suddenness had made us apprehensive and we smelt danger, discomforted by the newness of this disease that was supposedly associated with adults. To regain our lost composure we needed to find some good solutions.
Using analytical skills, armed with some courage and understanding, we took baby steps in gaining knowledge. It meant closely studying every aspect of the disease. As we unraveled the mystery of kidney failure, we learnt the gravity of the disease which kept the patient involved with diet, medication, blood pressure monitoring, and periodic check- ups. Each of these was directly related to food and fluid intake as a measure against urine outputs.
The family worked together, on a set goal of a transplant option as soon as my son began dialysis. I offered my kidney. It was a practical decision. My husband was a diabetic and my elder son just seventeen years. A few years later, after I finally managed to donate my kidney against all odds of fighting a breast cancer, the horrific chemotherapy and radiation, I experienced many other feelings. It was not joy, nor was it pride, but a completely new sense of being me, myself.
Life had changed dramatically but I drew comfort of having reached the safe zone.
I saw the whole world on the other side. They did not see, know, or understand how and why our lives had changed. I made it my responsibility of telling how a young man faced the life threatening disease, sought treatments and finally found joy in his life. Importantly tell people why they should protect themselves against a kidney failure by taking preventive steps in certain health conditions.
I realized that managing life with the disease was difficult, sometimes the huge treatment cost made it unaffordable for some patients. Finding a willing donor was a huge task, and many were unsuccessful in even arranging a transplant. Above all a cancer survivor qualifying for a kidney donation was uncommon.
“Shades of Life” is an inspiring book that could touch people in every walk of life. The protagonist made it his mission to find joy and lead a wonderful, near normal life. He lost his kidney again in 2006. After many earth-shattering experiences, his elder brother donated a kidney in 2009. In these 15 years, my son had graduated from Mumbai’s Xavier’s College, did Masters in IIT, Powai, graduated as a Doctorate in Physics from University of Southern California and is now on a post doctorate at University of Alberta, Canada.
Shades of Life- Sublime Joy is in Living – by Vasundhara Ramanujan is co-authored by Dr Mohammad Akaml, USC Kerk Medical Centre.