Geeta Moreau first went into kidney failure in 2005—an extremely tough situation to handle for anyone, but especially for an independent and successful woman like herself. Throughout her triumphs and struggles, Geeta has remained true to her core of positivity and optimism. We asked Geeta to share her experiences and inspirational story to help others who may find themselves in similar situations.
If there ever was a time to look within for hope and sheer will to live, it’s when I relapsed with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) last summer. It was May 1, 2018, two weeks before Mother’s Day. I feared a relapse may happen considering I was recovering from a divorce and rebuilding a new chapter in me and my son’s life. And there it was fear realized—I thought about who would take care of my son.
It was different the first time I went through kidney issues, but one symptom was the same: the edema. The sudden swelling to indicate the something was happening, 30 pounds of edema.
I went through stage four kidney failure in September 2005. I lost all independence to care for myself. My lesson to learn and allow loved ones to care for me was humbling and uncomfortable at times. I didn’t know how to handle all the side effects from my various medications. I also didn’t socialize much because I was so acute and didn’t want people to see me sick. I wanted to be remembered a certain way.
This time around I’m working hard, taking care of my son and myself, I’m working toward a better life. Although FSGS is not as acute as kidney failure, other factors come to mind: parenting, career, but most of all health. I’m a single mother and want to see my son grow up. I’m continuing to work in my field through my chronic illness, although it is a struggle at certain times.
Another thing I encountered was a sudden onset of 30 pounds of edema. The physical weight was also a metaphor for the weight of the stress I was feeling. I had no idea how or what I was going to do, but I knew it was going to be looking forward to things in the future to stay alive. It was survival mode. I had read somewhere that when you’re sick make future plans, it helps the mind to look forward to something and betters your chance for survival.
The most cathartic part of this process is I’m starting to share my story in hopes of helping others gain hope and resilience to fight for their own health. It’s difficult to share my personal experience of living with FSGS. I’ve always been a friendly person, but remain fiercely private at the same time.
Anything I could do to keep a glimpse of optimism, I do it. Meditation, drawing, practicing guitar and music. My son’s a great reminder of the art of play and playing in the present is such a healer. I’m reminded daily the possibilities of the impossible.
I also know how to better manage my own self-care, how to handle the side effects from the medications, but back in 2005 I was in a much more acute state. I went into a full remission in 2007/2008. I was on high doses of prednisone, cyclosporine, and other medications to keep my body systems in check as everything is affected when my kidneys were not functioning correctly. To say it’s difficult physically and mentally is an understatement.
Life does have its consequences. The medications that saved my kidneys affected my bones. In 2009, I was diagnosed with avascular necrosis of the hip, bilateral in 2010. Bone death. I walked with a cane for two years. Lived with chronic pain and limited mobility. In 2011, I got married, honeymooned and had hip replacement surgery. Then it was ‘getting my health back’ mode. I wanted to get off the pain medications to try to have a baby. I was hopeful yet realistic. I did get pregnant and had a miscarriage in the 9th week in 2013. Though I had read it was common for that to occur, it was a sad time that I worked through. I kept thinking that my body is receptive to conceiving. Within two months I was pregnant again, and I had a healthy pregnancy.
In November 2014, I delivered a beautiful baby boy naturally with a hip replacement. I thought a c-section was inevitable, but my perinatologist advised me to be in good shape, pay attention to my body and well-being. Motherhood is the best thing that ever happened to me; it reminds me every day how life is possible.
I did have a ten-year remission after all. These recent days, my kidneys are responding to the medications within nine months. I have not been on dialysis or had a transplant. I’ve always felt fortunate to be able to tackle this chronic disease with medications. Acupuncture helps me tremendously, balancing my mind and body.
Optimism has always been in my nature, even before I fell ill. But when I got sick and lost all independence to work and care for myself, optimism became a practice. It was a matter of survival, life or death.
My tendency is to look forward. I don’t ask why this chronic condition is happening, rather I channel the energy to eat right, exercise, and work toward gaining kidney health. I do what I can control, and the rest I keep the faith and spirit of positivity close to my heart. It’s not easy, but it’s a will to not only survive, but to thrive. I hope to be in a full remission again. I remain optimistic because I’m grateful to be alive.
– Geeta Moreau