SMILE, BISH! When I first started experiencing symptoms of polycystic kidney disease, I had no idea what was happening. My whole body hurt, I had a 105 fever, and couldn't piss. My kidneys had stopped functioning. I checked myself into the hospital and they told me it was a uti. I never had a one in my life and I knew something else was wrong. I spent a year in and out of the hospital, every few months the symptoms would return and the doc would pump me full of antibotics that killed everything good in my body and left me weak, pale and susceptible to other illnesses. I was losing my hair and my will to keep going. If I was going to be in pain all the time, what was the point?
After a year with no diagnosis, I demanded that the doc ultrasound my kidneys, that's where the pain was after all! The ultrasound showed black polka-dots all over, cysts. They told me it was a genetic disease that I had carried in my genes but it could be triggered by large amounts of stress or toxicity. It all made sense now. The first time I ever had a symptom was right after coming out to my parents. Read my coming out story. Their reaction was so toxic that it literally sent me to the hospital. I knew I had to remove myself from that environment. So, after being home from Istanbul only two weeks, and recovering from the first hospital visit, I packed my belongings and got out. That choice saved my life.
I know now that PKD is an inflammatory disease, and inflammation is caused by stress most of all, as well as an unhealthy diet. Though this disease is progressive and has no cure except a transplant, I am so grateful that I have it. Because of it, I completely transformed my life. I pay attention to my body, rest when I need to, and appreciate every moment. I refuse to be around toxic people or environments. My kidneys literally give me spidey senses- sharp pains will shoot through them when I'm around any negativity. Sometimes my body knows it before I do! It's my new super power.
When I was diagnosed, I faced my own mortality. There were days that I couldn't walk because of the pain. It scared me into action. I was once a fearful and anxious person. Now, I face every challenge without fear and appreciate everything I have.
What is your silver lining?
Anyone can model. For runway shows I select a broad range of people because we live in a beautiful, colorful world! Embrace your body type, your size, color, and features. Beauty is in diversity. The best way to let your beauty shine is with confidence. Stand up tall, shoulders back, and smile! Take deliberate steps, and pretend there is a thread pulling you upward. Don't slouch, queen! Be proud of who you are and strut yo stuff! That's all it takes to walk like a model. Go forth and Queen, my loves!