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Michelle (Michelle Mayes)

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I am a 49 year old wife and mother of two amazing children (I know, we all say that). My daughter is 26 and my son is 17. When my son entered kindergarten and after being a stay at home mom for fifteen years, I decided it was time to return to graduate school and work toward a Master's degree in elementary education. I finished with an MSEd in Inclusive Education and became certified in both General and Special Education in grades 1-6. I currently work in a private school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

 

Flashback to 1986; I had some blood work and a urinalysis done to satisfy the physical requirement for acceptance into Binghamton University (one of the network of SUNY schools) and there was blood detected in my urine, which eventually prompted a biopsy of my kidneys. The result: I had a disease known as glomerulonephritis, a term encompassing a group of chronic kidney diseases (CKD) that affect the kidney's filtration system. Basically, my disease caused the filters in my kidneys to become inflamed and damaged, and this would continue to occur until my kidneys no longer functioned. The prognosis: a kidney transplant would be the only treatment option (notice I did not use the word "cure"). I was 19 years old when I received this news, and otherwise felt fine, so I went on with my life as any young adult would; I finished college and received a Bachelor's Degree, got married in 1987 and, under close medical supervision, gave birth to my first child in 1989.

 

On December 4, 1994 I received the call; the transplant team at Albany Medical Center had found a match. The only family member who had my blood type was my father, and he was not healthy enough to donate one of his kidneys, so I went on "The List" to receive a cadaver kidney with thousands of other deserving patients and waited. I was 28 years old and in relatively decent health, never having to undergo dialysis was a definite plus. The transplant was very successful; I had to return to the hospital after contracting a fever and flu like symptoms, but recovered in a few days and was home by Christmas. My subsequent physical and emotional recovery after my kidney transplant will be the topic of future blogs.

 

Fast forward three years. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would only have one child, and my daughter was the light of my life. I struggled watching my friends get pregnant with their second and third babies, I won't lie. Once my daughter turned 5, and recovering from my surgery became a priority, the thought of having another child was shelved for the time being. I had many other issues to contend with, like managing the side effects of my immune suppressing medications (which, by the way, I still take every day). But, two years later, my husband and I began to realize that another child was a real possibility, so after some investigation into the pros and cons of pregnancy after transplant and some soul searching, I decided that I wanted another child. My pregnancy was uneventful and actually was beneficial to my overall health. My water broke exactly on my due date, even though my doctors had predicted that I would not carry my son full term. It was the perfect outcome.....until a week after we brought him home.

 

I should have known something was wrong the day before my water broke. I was not myself, but since everything had gone according to plan up until then, it just seemed like the normal "wanting this baby out of me" thing. I was huge! My daughter was a tiny 6 pounds and delivered by C-section. My son's delivery was longer and more difficult. After he was born, I waited for the euphoria to set in, as it did with my daughter. I could remember wanting to hold her every minute; I didn't feel that connection with my son. I decided that I was just in a lot of pain from the birth. The narcotics were helpful at first, but it didn't take me long to realize that I was using the pills for a different kind of pain.

 

Here's what I knew about post-partum depression: women who had it either wound up in the state hospital or in jail after killing their babies. When I had my first panic attack, I thought for sure I was going insane; my family thought so, too. It was a frightening moment. It took me about two years to recover and another five to finally get off the medication. I still have my struggles with depression, but have learned to manage the symptoms through education and self-awareness, which includes maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

 

Present day. I am at minus 70 pounds since having weight loss surgery in December, 2013. It was totally worth it. My reasons for having the surgery were mixed; this was the first time I was actually choosing to have surgery verses being told that it was my only option. Not an easy choice, I assure you. Since then I have worked incredibly hard to make positive changes in my life, and much of my writing is dedicated to helping others to do the same.

 

I hope that you will keep reading and keep the conversation going. We all deserve to live the best life possible.

 

~Michelle

 

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