Years ago, my wife Laura and I visited our son Connor’s preschool class around Thanksgiving. One wall was covered with art representing what each child was thankful for. While other children were thankful for “the earth,” “my baby brother,” and “ice cream,” Connor’s art showed he was thankful for sharks.
My wife Laura and I laughed about it at the time, but reflecting on it now, I think there was wisdom in his choice.
There is so much in the world to be grateful for if only we’re ready to see it.
Studies show that thinking about or expressing gratitude has numerous benefits including improving physical and mental health, improving self-esteem and improving sleep.
Yesterday marked two months since my kidney transplant, and two months since I got a second chance at life.
So I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.
- I’m grateful for my sister Stephanie for being my donor. This meant weeks off work, major surgery followed by several nights in hospital, and a whole lot of pain while she recovered. Stephanie is my hero and I will never be able to thank her enough for my new life.
- I’m grateful for my sister Fiona for going through the full testing process and for other friends and family who volunteered to go through the testing if my sisters weren’t a match.
- I’m grateful for my wife Laura and for my sons Connor and Bryson. I wasn’t a very good father or husband in the months leading up to the transplant. I was tired and impatient a lot. Some of the time, I was on a powerful steroid (a failed attempt at slowing the kidney damage), that made me angry and impossible to live with. Despite all that, Laura and the boys supported me throughout. Even now that I’m mostly healthy there’s a big burden on Laura. I’m still not supposed to lift anything over ten pounds, and this means she’s doing all the heavy lifting with our disabled son.
- I’m grateful for my mom and for Laura’s parents who were huge supports to Stephanie and me through the transplant process.
- I’m grateful for my health. I feel like a whole new person since the transplant. I have energy, focus and I feel happy. So far, my kidneys are working perfectly. While the risk of rejection never goes away completely, the risk is highest closer to the transplant and I’m grateful I’ve made it this far.
- I’m grateful for food. In the months before my kidney transplant, my diet was extremely limited. Because my kidneys couldn’t flush out phosphate and potassium, I had to restrict foods with these minerals to make sure they wouldn’t poison me. This meant eliminating or severely limiting meat, dairy, whole grains and many fruits and vegetables. So I ate a lot of noodles, rice and white bread. Now that my kidneys are working again, I can eat almost anything.
- I’m grateful for My Instruction Manual. My transplant led to this blog and I’m loving this journey to become happier, healthier and more productive. Today marks my fourteenth post in fourteen days and I’m grateful for that too.
- Finally, I’m grateful for sharks. Last year, just before my kidney disease took a turn for the worse, I was able to go SCUBA diving in the Turks and Caicos. My instructor pointed behind me. I turned to see a five-foot shark swimming past. It was one of the most terrifying moments of my life, but also one of the most magical. And I’m thankful for it.
What are you grateful for today?