Noah and I met in February 2011. It was my senior year of college, his junior year. I was getting ready to graduate, he was heading into the world of stressing over an honors college thesis. Had I not been diagnosed with decreased kidney function in January 2011, I probably would never have met him. But God had another plan…
I had no idea an out-of-the-blue kidney complication, a mutual friend to make our connection, an introductory phone call, and a trip to Earth Fare with a man I didn’t know much about would lead us to where we are today. But when he pulled up to my sorority house in his big blue truck… I sure am glad he did.
After he whisked up a flawless low-sodium dinner for the two of us, we found ourselves chatting until 2:00 in the morning, not even paying attention to time. Time stood still and I was smitten by this Noah, still am to this day. From that day forward, we were inseparable. He effortlessly became my very best friend.
Three years of dating, two college graduations, one big trip across the pond, countless adventures around the world, law school and all it’s glory, hospital visits here and there for health reasons, the sweetest, most humble surprise proposal on the park bench where my dad asked for my mom’s hand in marriage 31 years prior, job gains, job losses, a little wedding all about family right outside of my hometown, a pregnancy test during Noah’s final exam, expecting our first born son (after being told pregnancy would be next to impossible), pre-term labor, nine months of morning sickness, our firstborn’s birth, the bar exam only a handful of days later, a move to a different state, new job, our second son’s birth, and a million other things I haven’t listed… Here we are five years later. Much has happened, and we have so much to be thankful for.
He’s the salty to my sweet, the peanut butter to my jelly, and my equal opposite. He’s bold, I’m soft. He craves adventure, I crave home. He’s everything I am not, and he’s the other piece the Lord designed to make us “us.” We aren’t perfect. We don’t have a perfect relationship, but we’re constantly trying each and every day to make it better for us and our little family. The best gift we can give our sons and one another is to love each other – in sickness, in health, in good and in bad. And I think because of that, we make one unstoppable team.
Taking it back a step… I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 12; Noah was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome at age 19. We’re used to hard. We’re used to challenges. That’s just the card we both were dealt. We don’t ever expect our lives to be “easy,” and we don’t waste our time moping over the “why me?” If we did, precious time would be wasted. We get through it together. We look to the Lord and one another for strength; sometimes Noah has to be the stronger one, sometimes I have to be the stronger one. It’s just how it is, and we do what we need to do to get through. Sometimes it’s really ugly, sometimes it’s really hard, but most of the time we are just thankful we get to do hard together.
In the beginning of our relationship, Noah was by far the healthier one between the two of us. He stopped at nothing to be sure we found ways to better take care of my illness. He chose to do his honors college thesis on superfoods and healthy eating and was able to put his disease into remission. He fought for our best health then; he fights for our best health now.
Fast forward, four months into our marriage, and we got the biggest surprise of our lives thus far – I was pregnant. Fighting for health took on an entirely new meaning from the time we found out there was a tiny life growing inside of me. I, along with Noah’s phenomenal encouragement and jam-up endocrinology and OBGYN team, fought every step of the way to get Charles Madison Allen here healthy, and that’s exactly what we did. It wasn’t an easy road, but it was so worth it. As a type 1, having an a1c in the 5’s should be a declaration of victory. And I’ve kept it up since. Motherhood has made me want to fight – fight harder for better.
Fall 2015, Noah’s bloodwork came back not as wonderful as we would have liked. We decided he would undergo a few rounds of a particular chemo treatment (rituximab) in February 2016 to see if it would get his numbers where they needed to be. Didn’t work. Though this was an extremely disappointing time, it was overshadowed by finding out that same month I (shockingly) was pregnant. Still, God was faithful and delivered our second healthy, precious baby boy, Gentry Glen, to us on November 4, 2016. He has been our drop of joy in the midst of uncertainty and chaos.
Months went by and Noah’s numbers have continued to decline. From bloodwork and other testing, we have found out he has lupus nephritis and Celiac’s disease. After an extremely sick week, he was hospitalized in August 2016 due to high potassium levels and required two blood transfusions. His GFR dropped below 20% – he is currently at 16%. After exhausting many medications, eating sodium-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free (me), Noah needs a kidney transplant.
So, while holding my two babies and husband’s hand, I’m ready to fight. I’m ready to fight really hard for Noah, because he fights really hard for me, for Charlie, for Gentry, for anyone he loves and knows. And he’s a tough one. Really, tough just doesn’t do justice. We don’t need a pity party, we don’t need over sympathy, we just need a really good team of prayer warriors to help us through this battle. God will provide a kidney. From who? How? When? Where? I’m not sure, but God knows. Which leads me to ask…
“…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1