In March, my husband had a successful kidney transplant after being on dialysis for five long years. He is doing amazing and our family has learned the transformative power of change after spending the last five years responding to frequent change as a result of adjustments to schedules, vacations, medical considerations and activities that daddy could not attend because he had a dialysis appointment. Patrick's dialysis schedule was from 2:00-6:00 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. We have three children who were just 11-, 7- and 4-years-old when he started this therapy. As they grew so did the their extra-curricular activities and our need to constantly tweak and adjust our schedules to a new normal. My husband is an extreme contact dad and so he decided that being a classroom parent would compliment his morning schedule and allow him to be available for our children. Isn't he cool?
We made a decision as a couple that for us to thrive as a family we had to learn how to embrace change. We never complained to our children about daddy's dialysis treatments and schedule because we chose to embrace it. As a result of our attitudes and decision to live our extraordinary lives our children never developed resentment or felt that daddy's evenings away were a bad thing.
I'm writing this for any parent who might have to introduce change to their child or children and are struggling with where to begin. Our journey wasn't perfect but it certainly was resilient.
I learned that my children never internalized that their dad was less available or sickly because he had kidney failure. My children saw therapy as a gift and whether we were traveling locally or internationally they saw that dad could always find a way to be healthy. They never interpreted any limitations on their dad or on what our family could do, be or have because of dialysis.
If you a struggling with introducing change to your family here are a few things that I've learned over the years to move forward during changes in life:
Set a date to move your change forward
Nothing happens until you decide that you are willing to embrace and make a change in your life. Hope is not a strategy but taking action in the direction of the change that you desire will help you make progress toward your situation every time. In our case, Patrick made the decision to begin his dialysis treatment proactively.
Ask for what you want and don't ask for what you don't want
When moving in a new direction in your life, I want you to know that you are always in control of your choices. So many people respond to change as if they no longer have power over the decisions that they make in their lives and that is not true. We looked at the best possible options for treatment and ultimately decided on a 2:00-6:00 p.m. schedule because it allowed Patrick to have his days free for work and to drop the children off at school.
Reach for the highest and best solution for yourself
If you find that you never get what you want or that you it takes you a long time to obtain what you want to accomplish, I want you to look at the options that you are selecting for yourself. Are you choosing what is the best and highest solution for you? I want you to write down the five best scenarios for any situation that you want to change and rank them in order of your preference. Patrick consulted with his doctors about many different dialysis treatment options and did home dialysis for awhile because it was an option. This option gave us more flexibility and Patrick greater freedom for his therapy.
Mentally adjust to the best option for you without consulting your ego
How many times have you decided to make a decision because your ego told you, "you need this, you deserve this, they need you, you should be able to..."? I know you can finish that sentence. When deciding on choosing what is best for you the solution will always bring you closer to peace, ease and joy. Period. If the options that you choose for yourself result in inner calamity and discord revisit your choices. We did what made the most sense for our family without guilt.
Embrace your new path
Different ways of doing things bring new insight, people and opportunities to personally grow. You can't celebrate what is in front of you if you aren't willing to embrace the goodness in front of you. I see people do this all the time when they move to a different neighborhood, change jobs, doctors or partners. They struggle to give their new experience a chance. They overplay the magic of the old relationships only remembering the good times and forgetting that it took time and commitment to make that journey great. If you decide to change directions, then embrace your new path wholeheartedly. At one point Patrick commuted for years to a medical team in Pennsylvania from Maryland for the type of medical support he needed. We embraced it and did not struggle with the commute.
Change is emotional
The truth is that change brings out both good and bad crazy emotions in people. When you choose what is best for you, it might mean that it isn't what is best for someone else and as a result, they might not celebrate your choice publicly or privately. Patrick and I learned that you have to do what is right for you and your family. We always had great medical teams supporting his journey but we had to switch dialysis centers several times throughout the years based on what was best for us to give him what he truly needed to be healthy. It wasn't always popular but it was the right choice.
Show Up and Play Full Out
The day will come for you to fully show up and savor your new adventure. Arrive early and stay late so that you can learn about the new opportunity that is in front of you. Connect, network and learn how to make the most out of your new experience without fear. Just because it is unknown doesn't mean that bad things will follow. Trust and expect the best.
We arrived at the hospital on March 12th early, eager and excited to learn about Patrick's and our family's new journey. He is doing amazing!