As I wrap up my birthday month postaday challenge that wasn’t anything specific. It took me back to my whole journey. It always feels like I come full circle as far as where I’m at in life. However much wiser, stronger and older, blah!
I just taken some lifestyle photos for the new blog which I’ll be launching soon. I thought about all the self portraits I have done in the past. I rather be taking photos with my family but the personal photos are great to have especially as I look back at the many years I fought kidney failure, valley fever and all the chronic illnesses that has come along with it.
I have gone on with life tricking myself or what I like to call fake it to make it; for many years. For this post I would like to celebrate Invisible Illness Awareness Week. Let’s take a journey back..
2005 — I was 25 years old and working as an Executive Assistant for a real estate company. I have worked there for several years when I started to become symptomatic. This photo was taken just months before my kidneys failed.
2011 — In this photo I was 31 years old, transplanted for 1 year and recovering from my first episode from valley fever. I always was a free spirit and comfortable in my own skin. The kidney failure has brought challenges to this as I started to have abnormalities when my AV Fistula started growing out of control due to annueryms. I have a photo of my arm on my Life on Dialysis page. It eventually needed to be removed. This photo shows the nice scar it left. I was recovering well and never would I have thought that the infection was spreading from my lungs, into my bloodstream, into my soft tissue and bones.
2012 — I just recovered from the 2nd relapse of valley fever and kidney transplant rejection. I had to be on high dose prednisone which helped me gain some good weight and have the classic full face. I spent almost half a year in the hospital for several surgeries and rejection episode. I still had fresh scars from my neck catheter when they gave me IVIG treatments for my rejection. I recovered and hoped my kidney still had a fighting chance. I was already at 75% kidney function. I took this photo for Donate Life marketing materials.
2016 – Taken at the age of 36, and lost my kidney transplant with the last reoccurance with valley fever. The toxicity from the medication completely damaged it. I transitioned back to dialysis first peritoneal dialysis until they removed my transplant and had to get back on hemodialysis. On top of the kidney failure & valley fever I now have chronic pain, a leaky heart valve and early stages of pulmonary hypertension. I have survived and learned to thrive. It is easy to look at me and not see all that my body is going through. Getting ready and fixing myself up has helped me trick myself. So much so I can trick everyone around me.
2016 — Now 37 years old, I wanted to take photos embracing my scars. I do accessorize a lot because I don’t like to be treated differently and also my scars are literally still healing and the skin is sensitive so I cover also to protect them. Through the years I’ve learned to embrace them. After all they are my stories of survival and now very much apart of me and my story.
As I end this birthday month I wanted to bring awareness to those fighting invisible illnesses. For the most part I live an active life but my health always has to come first. So much so I also miss a lot. I had two birthday dinners planned this month that I couldn’t attend. It takes the support of very understanding family and friends.
I’ve learned to take each day and just celebrate it. Wherever I am and with whomever I’m with. After all I’ve gone through time is precious. Each breath is precious. I fight many illnesses you cannot see and I’ve made it my life mission to bring awareness however I can. I will be sharing more of my what I call “warrior lifestyle” tips and inspiration at: www.warriorlifestyle.org. Which the last photo shoot I took will feature some of my warrior stylings.
I will continue to write my online memoir and the Maribel’s Kidney Story will continue…
As I continue to learn & grow…
Always being me, the invisible me.