Updated: Dec 20, 2022
On December 20, 2021 (yes, on my birthday), I hosted a birthday event and had the illustrious Jennifer Holiday come out and bless attendees with some beautiful music. It was really a grand time. Thanks for those who came out to celebrate, to partake, and to support me. I announced that I would be running for a higher political office.
Needless to say, it didn't happen. I ended up having to drop out of the race. The Omicron variant of COVID-19 put me on my behind and I got severely ill. By December 25, 2021, the virus had ran its course--I had made it through the storm. At least, I thought I did.
After getting past the immediate symptoms of COVID (which for me were very mild), my body overreacted in its recovery. I literally started blowing up like a balloon. I said this story was graphic. Here is the most graphic part - my scrotum got the size of one of those small watermelons. I could not walk, I could barely move. You haven't felt pain until you've felt that kind of pressure surrounding your family jewels. Men will know what I am talking about here. Yes! It was painful; I was in constant pain.
Everything else began to swell too. My arms. My legs. My feet. My midsection (stomach). My face. I kept swelling. At this time, I was a VEGAN. I ate no oil, no sugar, and a no salt diet. I just knew that whatever was happening to me was going to alleviate itself. It never did. After a couple days of excruciating pain, swelling, and unbearable trauma, I went to the emergency room. The doctors there took me in, stuck me with a thousand needles and said words that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies, "You are in end-stage kidney failure and we need to start immediate dialysis on you."
Of course, I was devastated. I cried like a baby and (just being honest here), I refused to let them do it. I knew they had made a mistake and I just needed some rest and would be better in the morning. WRONG! I called a celebrity physician, my trusted health doctor and friend, Dr. Joel Fuhrman (look him up--worth your time). I had recently spent some time out in California with him to learn some things about healthy eating/living, etc. While he is a board-certified medical doctor, he has built a multi-million dollar empire (to include 7 or 8 NYT best-selling books) by promoting a certain lifestyle called Nutritarian (again, I recommend you look it up). Worth your time! Probably saved my life.
Despite all the prior strides I had made with improving my health, Dr. Fuhrman told me what I did not want to hear. "Shawn, you need to start dialysis. COVID-19 has blown your kidneys out." It felt different and extra hurtful coming from someone who I know is adamantly against the many unhealthy approaches that Western medicine takes. In other words, while he is a board-certified medical doctor, he teaches that all medicine is toxic and ultimately not good for one's overall health. However, now things had changed for me. Being natural is great, but being alive is just as important.
I still refused. Denial, I guess. I told them, "No!" They put me in ICU and said, "OK we can see what happens in the morning." I stayed in ICU for a week. My numbers slowly got better. I think I called every prayer warrior I knew. I went before the throne. Things got better--enough for them to stay the dialysis, but I remained in end-stage kidney failure. After about a week and a half, they allowed me to go home.
While home, I have been on more medicine than I have ever taken. In fact, I went from NO medicine to now about 30 pills a day. I am taking stuff for everything: Due to my kidneys failing, I am Calcium deficient, Vitamin D deficient, too much Potassium, taking medicine for the fluid buildup, taking medicine for high blood pressure, and the list goes on.
Due to the medicine and the new diet, I have taken a break from my Vegan diet. My doctors tell me that the overload of potassium (found in all green leafy vegetables and in many fruits) is not good for me since my body is not processing it correctly. Apparently, high potassium in your blood is as serious as a potential heart attack waiting to happen.
This all took place one year ago today. Today is my birthday and I had been praying that by my birthday--everything would be back to normal (as normal as it could be). Needles to say, that hasn't happened. I did want to inform people where I was and how things are coming along. Many people have been asking, have been praying, and are genuinely concerned. So, there you go; you know what I know. Currently, the swelling is constant and intense. It's bad. As of last week, my kidney doctor has said, "Shawn it's time to start dialysis. I am referring you to a surgeon." More words that I didn't want to hear. This time I said, "If it's what I need to do, then ok."
I will say this though - all hope is not lost! I strongly believe that it will all get better through the grace of God. I am on the kidney list and I await a match. I am blood type "O". Due to my blood type, I can only accept a kidney from someone else who is the same blood type.
I want to pause and thank all of you who were willing to donate. So far, the people who stepped up to donate have had had the heart to do so. They were either not a match or had health issues themselves and therefore unable to donate. The thing is, you cared enough to get tested and I am eternally grateful.
You know, it's funny because people have said, "Oh God got something in store for you." My thought to that is "I don't want this one." I would think, "He can keep this one and give me back my good health." My discussions with God have looked like this:
GOD: Lean and trust in me.
GOD: I got you.
ME: Are You serious?
GOD: Learn through this experience.
ME: Learn? There is NOTHING for me to learn. The only thing I have learned is that Job's wife was on to something! I have complete empathy for her! (EYE ROLL. Then I feel immediately convicted)
ME: Lord, like Jesus asked in the garden, "Can you please pass this cup from me?"
ME: (Humbly) Well, then Lord that your will be done; just give me the grace to get through it.
I believe He heard my cry and while this is the hardest time of my life, I trust He is giving me the grace to get through it. And to say I haven't learned anything is not completely true. If there is one thing I have gained through this, it is more compassion. We never know what people are going through. We must be kind to everyone. Something we say or do has the power to help them make it one more day.
The unfortunate part of this write-up is the end has not presented itself quite yet. Hopefully, the next time I write you, I will be writing about victory. I will write about having been transplanted. I will write about how my health has turned around. I will be able to write about how I am on less medicine. I will be happy to write about my return to my Vegan lifestyle. I will write about what I learned. I will write about the donor--who she/he is, their journey and decision to donate. I will be able to write about my recovery.
Right now, I have to end this article with this fact: I am grateful for life. When I went to the emergency room, that cold day in December 2021, the emergency room doctors told me, "We are glad you came in when you did. Your body was trying to poison you to death." So, unfortunately my body may be weak, but thank God my spirit is strong!
IF YOU KNOW YOU ARE BLOOD TYPE "O" OR YOU WOULD LIKE TO GET TESTED TO SEE IF YOU'RE A MATCH, REACH OUT TO ME AND I WILL GET YOU CONNECTED WITH THE PROCESS.