That Time I Blurted Out My Secret

March 3, 2016 | Posted in: Chronic Illness and Diagnosis, Chronic illness and relationships, chronic illness; support

My mouth tends to get me in trouble. Perhaps it’s a snarky comment that escapes before my brain engages, or it’s my warped sense of humor that maybe only one or two people on the planet understand. But there was a day that my mouth said something that shocked even me, in that short brief moment, a revelation was sparked.

I had heard of a colleague who was having a difficult time with recurring kidney stones. I wanted to reach out an offer a nugget of encouragement and inquire if he was under the care of a specialist. I wanted to offer up the name of my nephrologist, as I really respect and appreciate the level of care he gives.hands-736244_1280

As my colleague answered no, he did not have a doctor; he surprised me with a simple question in return, “do you have a problem with kidney stones, too?” My answer was quick, unplanned and blurted out, “no, my kidneys are failing.” Gulp! I said, whaaaaaat? I’ve known it. I’ve lived it. I thought I had made peace with it. In that nano-second, I actually said it. My kidneys are failing.

Five years ago I went to my nurse practitioner thinking I had a bladder or kidney infection (as I’ve had hundreds in my life time) She discovered that the lab numbers were alarming and ordered more tests, and more, and ultrasounds, and..ugh saving pee in a jug for 24 hours! (Don’t ask about where I had to store it) She referred me to a kidney specialist and hugged me as she explained that yes, she was being aggressive and that I was fortunate to catch “it” in its early stages. Most people don’t get a diagnosis until much later in the disease. As I watched her lips moving, all I heard was the teacher from Charlie Brown. And I didn’t a clue as to what IT was.

It, as it turns out, is Chronic Kidney Disease. I’ve had issues all my life with kidney and bladder trouble. I was told that in my toddler years, I spent some time in the hospital with a ‘kidney issue’. I’ve asked relatives if they knew any details, but those who knew it best are gone now. My diagnosis didn’t really surprise me, but I don’t think I really owned it as a reality. For some strange moment, years later, my words made it very-very real. I was given medication and dietary restrictions, rules and regulations. I’ve been pretty good about them. When I have been rather naughty my kidney function numbers are bad. I’ve seen the benefit of being better and been scared by the bad. My darling husband encourages me and has been scared alongside me. But I don’t think either of us has really seen the gravity of what my future may hold.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not the kind of girl who will just let this get the better of me. I’m not willing to surrender to the fact that there is a very real possibility that I have to face dialysis or transplant. But I cannot sugarcoat it, I know it is a possibility and I’m being realistic about it. I also know that I serve an amazing God; an awesome healer and great physician. Whatever His plan for me, I will walk in it, and try to walk away from the refrigerator.

Recently, my kidney function numbers took a swan-dive to Stage 3. I honestly anticipated it. C’mon, it was the holidays and … and… yeah, I blew it. While my numbers decline, the expectations on me do not. It is difficult for some within my circle to understand there are days I just don’t feel well. I have zero energy or interest in actually putting on pants or eyebrows. Click To Tweet I suffer from anxiety and depression on good days, on a bad day, I think those around me suffer it more! Brain fog, exhaustion, crankiness, moderate pain, and excessive whining ensue. I’m thankful to have some amazing cheerleaders in my life. While they don’t totally get the complexity of this war going on quietly within me, they love me through it.

Again, I say, my kidneys are failing. It is {somewhat} within my power to control the pace, but it is inevitable that the numbers will reach a low that I may not bounce back from. I don’t know the route this journey will take, there is no map with mile-markers along the way. If we had everything laid out before us we would lose some of the adventures in life. Take heart, embrace the fact your future looks different now, it is no longer the one you planned. Know that there will be tough days and also believe there better days are ahead. Leave your own mile-markers, mark your own journey. Yes, there may be some roadblocks and detours along the way, share them with your fellow travelers. Help others to navigate through the gulches and valleys.

As for me, I plan to enjoy the scenery. I may need to stop to pee every few miles, and to grab a snack, and coffee, and…anyway, take the time to see the beauty all around and don’t worry about the next leg of the journey, however long or short it may be. I won’t shed another tear and wonder ‘why me’. I will walk in faith and ask for God’s direction. I won’t strive to be a good girl, I will be a better girl and take care of myself. Take care of you ♥

For more information about kidney disease: Contact the National Kidney Center


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Annisa Swanson lives in Northern Illinois with her incredibly supportive husband. Together, they have two gorgeous grandchildren. She has been a hairstylist for nearly thirty years and has a deep passion for touching people’s lives, not only the outside, but deep inside. Her colorful outward appearance is not to be outdone by her lively and colorful approach to life and love


  1. Dannie
    March 6, 2016

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    Annisa, I love you chicky! I know I don’t say it enough or see your enough, but you are always in my heart! Even when you are at your weakest you are still one of the strongest people I know!! Keep the faith and the fighting spirit!

  1. Big Mouth – Annisa Swanson | Ramblings - […] Please take a moment to read my  recent guest post on Chronically Whole! […]

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