Pendarvis Family

Pendarvis Family
Pendarvis Family 2015

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Five Years Ago Today


Today marks five (yes five!) years since Christopher's kidney transplant! August 11, 2011, was a day I thought my life (our lives) would change forever. The diagnosis that we had been seeking for three months finally came to a dead end. We found out at a well visit in May that his hemoglobin was low. But why was the question. So, we had multiple lab visits throughout the summer in our search for answers, including a bone marrow biopsy to rule out leukemia.

We were away on vacation at the end of the summer. It was a vacation our family had won through one of our Victory Sports families submitting our names to a radio contest. We stayed in a huge three story house in the mountains for a week. Due to different circumstances, it was two years past the contest that we were finally able to go on vacation to this beautiful home in the mountains. God had this trip orchestrated for such a time.

Since our phones were out of range inside the house, I walked up the driveway to check messages after dinner. I saw that a doctor had tried calling numerous times and left messages. When I called the doctor back, I will never forget his words... "Mrs. Pendarvis, are you sitting down? I found out what is going on with Christopher. It is his kidneys. Both of them. I am calling the nephrologist, but you may need to pack your bags and head to the hospital tonight". That was the day I thought my life would never be the same. It hasn't been the same, but for very different reasons.  We didn't have to head to the hospital right away, but the nephrologist set up an appointment for an ultrasound the following week. With the little bit of information the doctor gave over the phone (and that I could actually remember), I used the remaining time in the mountains to start my research. My findings were very unsettling to say the least, but God again was preparing my heart, as He had all summer as I felt “something” was right around the corner. This also began my journey of trying to maintain normalcy for our family in the midst of my mind going through absolute torture.

The next words that I will never forget were the words of his nephrologist the following week, August 11, 2011… “Well, this is the beginning of a long journey together…” I just remember tuning out after that. Beginning? Long? Journey? What? We found out that Christopher’s kidney failure was due to him being born with small kidneys, and the fact that his body acclimated to his kidneys as he grew explained why we had not yet seen any symptoms. We were also told, “If you are going to have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) this is the best way to have it since nothing has actually caused the kidneys to fail. He will be a great transplant recipient since there will not be anything else fighting against his new kidney”. At the time, these words did offer a little comfort, but we obviously were still very overwhelmed.  We did find out that he was in stage five (final stage) of renal kidney failure. We left the appointment with information on dialysis, and we needed to decide which was best for him. We also left with information from our social worker with a website to discover all we needed to know about CKD. Big mistake. I read every little word, and my traumatized mind went crazy and only saw the worst case scenario in everything I read. This would happen for ten more weeks. During this time, my "mind" told me he was dying. It was the lowest point of my life. Most of our story is listed in this blog, but most of the emotional details will be stored in my heart. Christopher’s body took to the medication he was placed on immediately, and he did not have to be placed on dialysis, but we were immediately thrown in to multiple weekly meetings and set off on the new journey of learning about kidney transplants. His transplant was April 18, 2012. I will be forever grateful that we were able to catch his kidney disease before it caught up to us. CKD is known as a silent disease, and most of the time people find out and are rushed to surgery and placed on immediate dialysis. We were saved from a lot of heartache as a result.

What I would like to say is, life did get back to normal. Christopher is still one of the most amazing people I have ever met. He is the same at home as he is in public. He inspires me every day as he strives to keep a pure heart to glorify the Lord in everything he thinks, says, and does. I am changed. Our family is changed. Emotional pain has a way of changing you. Our main change is seeing God in a way we wouldn’t have otherwise seen or experienced Him. A song that came out when my mind was processing everything correctly again was "Where the Hurt and the Healer Collide". It is true. You really do collide with Him down in the valley of despair. God gave me several verses during the early parts of our journey, and I still am taken back when I read Isaiah 43:2. I would read it. Meditate on it. Claim it. Breathe it. I had this verse placed on the back of  a shirt on a team this past basketball season. I can’t describe how I felt as the little ones glowed with this verse running down the court. I have been able to share the meaning behind this verse many times with people in different valleys and circumstances.

I have learned many valuable lessons through this process, but some of the nuggets I have tucked away are the following:

All valleys are temporary. Your feet WILL hit dry ground again. It wont' be painless, and it may not be quick, but you WILL hit dry land. Life may look a little different. But you don’t remain in that valley. And secondly, but most importantly, God IS with you wherever you go, and He DOES give you the strength to walk the journey He has placed you in. He even breathes for you until you are able to breathe again on your own.

So, today we celebrate five years… for more reasons than one. If you don’t know Jesus as your personal savior, I would love to introduce you to Him. This doesn’t mean that your life will be free of difficult journeys, but it does mean you won’t walk them alone.

Me and Christopher, April 2017

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