Dedication: Therese Duverlis
After collapsing in my home one night and being rushed to the hospital at the age of six, doctors predicted that I would not live to see my seventh birthday. Thirty years later, and I am still defying all the odds. I have stared death in the face numerous times and still refuse to succumb. Over the course of my life, I have survived a pacemaker implantation, two heart transplants, a kidney transplant, respiratory failure, and a tracheotomy. At the age of twenty-six I was diagnosed with a rare muscular myopathy, and I have been wheelchair bound since. I developed a substance abuse dependency issue as a result of my many hospitalizations which eventually led to my overdosing on my twenty-seventh birthday. It took many months for me to rehabilitate, however my myopathy was still gradually progressing causing me to get physically weaker over time. I now sleep on a ventilator every night and require 24/7 in home care assistance. Losing my independence and needing help for all my day to day activities has been my biggest mental hurdle to date. Two years ago my transplanted kidney failed. I have been receiving dialysis treatments three times per week since that time. I have my share of bad days, and often times things seem so overwhelming I wonder how I can possibly go on. There were many low points in my life that I felt completely hopeless and wanted to give up. Despite these dark periods, I still managed dig deep and find the strength to live my life to the fullest making the most of every moment. Having a positive mental outlook, pulling from my inner strength, my faith in God, and the support of loved ones is what has gotten me this far. Four years ago, I decided to chronicle my life story in a an autobiography entitled, “1 Man, 3 Hearts, 9 Lives,” in the hopes that sharing my ability to overcome challenges would inspire others to never ever give up hope themselves.There is so much power in realizing that we are not alone in our challenges. I also went on to develop a foundation as well as to do some motivational speaking in order to spread awareness of both my disease and the importance of organ donation. My message is simple, treasure each moment and make sure to take full advantage of your life and the loved ones around you. Life is beautiful, you don’t want it to be too late before realizing that. Perspective is everything! And lastly, if I can do it, I know you can too!
Photo credit: Image courtesy of storyteller.