Keeping my mind busy during lockdown here in Ireland has been easy enough. I’ve created an online course (for people with kidney disease) and an eBook.
But that's not enough, I needed something more. I needed something outside, in nature, in the elements.
I needed a challenge.
At the beginning of February, along with a friend, we began getting into the Atlantic ocean every day.
It is incredibly cold, both inside and outside the water, and it is not easy.
That's the thing about a challenge and a goal. It needs to be difficult, it needs to stretch you, both mentally and physically. This activity certainly achieved that.
The good thing is I know I can do it.
I'm no stranger to overcoming adversity, and I’ve seen others do it, which gives me the belief that I can do it.
Already I can feel the brighter, warmer days, when getting into the sea will no longer be such a challenge, but a pleasure.
This cold water challenge has always been symbolic of my life with kidney disease. Two words came to mind the very first day I slowly, awkwardly, got into the sea.
PAIN and EXHILARATION.
The pain of getting into the freezing water and the exhilaration of having survived it.
For me, the discomfort of dialysis (Pain) was lessened greatly due to knowing I’d get a transplant someday (exhilaration).
It also reminds me of the donor family who lost someone special in their life (pain) at a time when I received all the benefits of a transplant (exhilaration).
Unfortunately not everyone with kidney failure gets a transplant. This does not mean that “pain” has to be the way of life.
When you accept the reality of living with kidney disease you can begin to find ways of bringing joy to your life.
It may be reading or watching your favorite tv shows. It may be through interacting with fellow patients and learning from them how they cope and live with the disease.
It may be through a part time job or a hobby that, while you are doing it, you feel normal, healthy and productive.
These are 3 things that can be absent from your life when living with kidney disease.
Developing a positive mindset and adapting health enhancing habits can get you back feeling both hopeful and healthy.
Wherever you find yourself in terms of health, or indeed lockdown, set little goals and strive to find purpose in your adversity.
Cold water plunges in February might not be for everyone but do find an activity that both challenges and inspires you.
LESSON: Don't let adversity pass by without taking some positives from it…