By Jennifer Lauerman, Executive Director
We are excited for the launch of our new blog Kidney Stories MN. The goal of this blog is to create a platform to highlight the stories of our local kidney community. You may have recently seen some of these stories in our monthly newsletter - like that of David who, at 28 has been on dialysis for 16 years. Or Ted, who donated a kidney to a stranger six years ago. At NKF we constantly hear amazing local kidney stories and this blog is a way for us to document those in one place. We will feature local patients, kidney donors, caregivers and healthcare professionals; if you know someone who should be highlighted, send us a note. And if you’d like your story told, reach out. Because this blog is a place for all of us.
I’ll kick things off with my own kidney story. While I am inspired each day by the people I meet, no one is more inspiring to me than my nine-year-old daughter Pepper. Pepper is an amazing third grader who loves You Tube and sewing and playing with her dog Archie. She is kind and funny. Just over four years ago, we were told that our seemingly healthy child had focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a rare kidney disease. It was shocking. I cried for weeks. I screamed. I stayed up all night with wine and google. I quickly learned that when left with no other choice, you must adjust to your new reality. So that’s what I did. There have been challenges along the way. Hospitalizations. The low sodium diet. The meds that make her bones ache. Frequent stomachaches. The constant use of steroids. Weight gain. Teasing. Anxiety. But overall Pepper has remained fairly stable, and for that we’re incredibly grateful. We are hopeful that she’ll make it through puberty before needing a lifesaving kidney transplant.
And ever-so-slowly, I have found myself thinking that while I never would have chosen this path for my child, there are some positives that have come with it. We enjoy each day that Pepper is stable and feeling okay. We breathe it in and appreciate every second because we know it won’t always be this way. We take vacations. We laugh. We work just a tiny bit harder at creating joyful memories. I’m grateful for this perspective.
I’ve also met amazing people along the way – people who have inspired me and shown me that it’s going to be okay.
And finally, this experience has brought me here to the National Kidney Foundation, an organization that’s working hard to ensure a better future for kidney patients; a better future for Pepper. I want to use my marketing expertise to support our kidney community. And as your new Minnesota Executive Director, I want you to know that we’re all in this together. I look forward to working with you, supporting you, and helping to bring your stories to life.