I would like to thank the team at Kidney Trails for the opportunity to tell my story. This story is about being the husband of someone with Kidney Disease and not about KWM the story of KWM will come at another time.
It all started about 17 years ago when my wife and I got together. Shannon (my wife) and I had known each other in high school. We only started dating years later after college. That is an entirely different story for a different blog, one she should probably write for accuracy.
I knew nothing about Kidney Disease, Dialysis, much less about Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). I didn’t even know that Shannon was in the beginning stages of PKD. I recall the first time hearing of PKD it was about a year into dating Shannon was having some stomach issues. She went to see the doctor where she invited me into the appointment with her, when explaining what issue she was having she stated “I also have PKD” I just kept my mouth shut and waited till after the appointment to ask her what PKD was. I think even at that time she was unsure of all the issues she would face in her life but gave me a brief idea of her condition.
At this point in our relationship PKD was nothing to be concerned about in our eyes. With PKD being a genetic disease we were not even seeing members of her family have issues, all were living healthy lives so what was there for us to worry about.
About 2 years into our relationship is when I saw the first effects of PKD on Shannon’s family. The first was the passing of her uncle then an aunt and another aunt then her other uncle. This was not in one year but spread over about the next four years. Around this time was when I really started to learn about PKD as my mother-in-law went into stage 5 kidney failure and had to start dialysis.
This became very hands-on for us as my wife would help her mother almost every day, I watched an amazing team form as my wife teamed up with her father to help care for her mother. My wife and her mom were not mother daughters, they were best friends. As time went on I watched my mother-in-law go in and out of hospital after the appointment. Through all of this going on I didn’t know at the time, but I was being taught by the greatest teacher I could ever ask for my father-in-law. Here was a man who was working a full time job 12-hour day shifts followed by 12-hour night shifts. He took his vows very seriously “In sickness and in health” he was there for his wife. I know that some days he was frustrated, tired, but he was there, and he may have not seen it, but he was teaching me lessons that I would use later on in life.
Then came the day that we received the call that my mother-in-law had passed. This was the worst day. I remember it being so unbelievable see I had known my mother-in-law for many years before dating my wife, when we were just friends in high school they would have me over, I would pick Shannon up to go hang out with our group of friends and when she was not ready, yet she would let me sit and chat with me. Now she was gone I swore to her that day that no matter what I would be there to take care of her daughter and she would not have to worry.
Even at this point of our life journey I was still not afraid of PKD. Shannon and I had 2 beautiful children. Her kidneys were doing ok with just under 50% function. In my heart I felt we were years away from her being in any kind of trouble. We were going on vacations raising our children and living life to its fullest. But one day a big dark rain cloud stormed in over our lives.
Shannon called me at work stating she was feeling “Funny” it was advised that she call an ambulance and get medical attention. It was quickly learned that she was having a stroke. That’s correct at 40 years old she was suffering from a stroke. This was the moment that PKD showed its true face in the mirror to me.
Shortly after this time is when PKD started to take over Shannon’s kidneys. We to this day do not know if the stroke caused her kidney’s to start their quick decline, but the timing would say so to me. Within a three-year time frame Shannon would be on dialysis.
Some may ask at this stage “Why did you stay if you knew this was going to happen?” it also has been asked to me and I understand people asking, but the one clear answer is because I wanted to. You see there is a saying that we as humans only have to do two things on this earth. One to pay taxes and two to die. The rest of our lives are made up of choices. Also, part of this question is asked as if we have an understanding of how long we have on this earth which none of us ever know.
If I could go back in time and be told that you will marry Shannon first I would laugh and not in a bad way, but we were just friends and if you were to tell her the same thing she would tell you yea right (it is an ongoing joke in our house). But I would have never changed a thing. I am here because I love my wife. I am here because I want to be.
I will admit that sometimes things are hard, sometimes things are frustrating, and I am tired. Tell me what relationship is not, but I would not change a thing. It is hardworking full time and having to do a little more for the family. It is frustrating watching Shannon not get better and hurts to know the end that I can’t help. Living in this world tell me who is not tired. But all these are small compared to what Shannon and other Warriors are feeling about those with other diseases that are fighting for their lives.
The view I have is every morning we wake up and say good morning to each other it is a blessing. I view others, some who wake up alone, some who say good morning but never get the chance to say goodnight. You see our time on this earth is limited, and we need to enjoy each day the best we can. One day our name will be called to leave this earth and I know that I will have no regrets. I know that if it is my name called first or hers I know I was loved, and I gave all my love to her.
Editors Note: Kyle Hockridge is one of the Kidney Trails Partners. To check out the great work that he does with KWM Click this Link Kidney Warrior Merch – Monthly Warrior to check out his site…