The first time I heard about Alport syndrome was in the second grade when our family doctor told my parents I had the disease. Maybe being diagnosed with it early before I even understood anything about it was a blessing, since I really did not worry much about it.
Yes, I wore hearing aids and was occasionally teased about it, but a wise teacher told me “We all have disabilities; some are more visible than others.“ I was told I had issues with my kidneys, but honestly, I pretty much ignored them.
I played baseball and soccer, but my true passion was running and I did it well enough to eventually run at Baylor University. It was there that my declining kidney functions started to affect me. One coach said that my kidneys could not filter the lactic acid in my body properly and it was “like running with a refrigerator on your back.“ He was right and my competitive running career came to a halt.
I was lucky to have received a kidney from my dad 12 years ago and still run races, but my true passion today is as an audiologist. My hearing aid doctor when I was young was so terrific I decided that someday I would also help people with their hearing issues. I‘m one of a few audiologists in the U.S. who actually wears hearing aids and it gives me a special connection with people with hearing issues.
Yes, dealing with Alport syndrome can be a challenge that I would not wish on anyone. But in my case it has also presented some pretty unique opportunities. You can look on the glass of water as either half-empty or half-full. Half-full works best for me.