My father is the light of my world. You could say he’s my best friend, which is why when he underwent a repetitive and dangerous but also life-saving procedure my identity was changed forever. In the fall of my freshman year of high school my father was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease, or PKD. In most cases, (as it is for my father and me) PKD is a hereditary disease. PKD is a destructive disease that causes cysts to grow in the kidneys inhibiting kidney functions. When my father was diagnosed, his doctor explained to him that if he did not begin Hemodialysis, a life-preserving machine that acts as a synthetic kidney, he would die. Thus began my family’s journey.
Hemodialysis can be done at home, or in a clinic. Because of the severity of my father’s condition he needed it 5 days a week, 4 hours a day. We began going to a treatment facility, having a certified nurse hook my father up to the machine. But, sitting in a sterile, depressing, compact room for 4 hours everyday when both my mother and father had full-time jobs was inconvenient and heartbreaking. Therefore my mother was taught how to hook my father up to the machine, and how to regulate it for the full 4 hours at home.
At this point in my life, at only age 15, I had seen my father battle prostate cancer, undergo not one, but two total knee replacements, and suffer through renal failure on dialysis. To say these things impacted me would be an understatement. Because both my mother and father were busy every night of the week, and I could not drive on my own yet, I couldn’t go anywhere. I had to bother my friends and their parents to give me rides whenever I needed to go anywhere. The act of asking for help from those around you on a daily basis is very humbling.
I also began to help out more around the house. Whenever my father was on dialysis I either cooked dinner, or recorded all of the levels on the machine every 30 minutes for my mother. Very quickly I came to appreciate all that my mother did for me. When I turned 16 I was able to both drive myself and get a job. I wanted to get a job not just for me, but also for my family. Even now, when I look at my friends who are 18, don’t have a job, spend money like fiends, and have no desire to pitch in to their family’s chores, I’m at a loss. However I also realize that if my father hadn’t gotten kidney failure I might not have been any different from my self-centered friends. Of course, I am not glad that this terrible thing happened, but I recognize that the positive changes that resulted in my personality are invaluable.
After a toilsome year and a half, my father’s sister-in-law, my aunt, donated one of her kidneys. Since the kidney transplant my father has been able to travel, eat what he likes, and practically resume his life. This act impacted our life deeply and in such a positive way. Without these experiences, I wouldn’t be who I am. Every day I am thankful for those who have supported us throughout this whole process, and for the newly found health of my father. Because of my strength, and the strength of my family, I now have my best friend back.