Health Hiccups Letters of Hope: Episode 10

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In the previous episode, Valen Keefer shared her experience with the world of dating, relationships, and family planning as a transplant patient.

In episode 10 of Letters of Hope, Valen shares health hiccups she's endured through her transplant experience. She provides advice on navigating and coping with these inevitable little blips that happen along the journey.

"My wish for you is that you're able to stay close to the people that provide you support and happiness and find things that bring you joy through health hiccups that you may endure because most of them do pass."

Valen Keefer | Kidney & Liver Transplant Recipient

Valen reminds us that looking for positivity and hope is essential during these times. For her, going out in nature, spending time with her husband, having a community to talk to, and having a circle of support has been key in navigating the difficult times.

There are currently over 106,000 people on the national transplant waiting list. Every nine minutes another person will be added to that list. One donor can save up to 8 lives and enhance 75 more. Learn more about being a donor here:

This docuseries is hosted by our patient advocate, Valen Keefer, the series describes the ups and downs, the challenges, and the hope, that someone might experience before, during, and after receiving a transplant. For those considering donation, you can access several interviews with living donors who talk about the process and the positive impact it’s had on their lives.

Read Transcript

On our transplantation journeys, we are bound to hit some bumps in the road. There are additional unforeseen health complications. I like to call them health hiccups. And the more equipped we are to handle them when they pop up, the less they will derail us.

Often on our transplant journey, we can endure hiccups that are related to our transplant or other health issues entirely. After my recovery from kidney transplant, I did well for many years, when all of a sudden I started to get sick again and found out that my PKD had affected my liver and I needed a second transplant. My family and I were devastated. We were blown away that I needed a liver transplant on top of a kidney transplant. The reality is that it might not just be our transplants that we have to deal with.

I navigate being a transplant recipient, epilepsy and chronic pain from scoliosis. Sometimes one of those things almost gets put to the side, and I can't even take good care of it when something else is heightened. Through these health challenges, some of my health hiccups can be small, like my blood pressure can drop really low, or I could have a seizure. It has been such a variety of health hiccups, but regardless of their size, they feel very significant.

I remember when I needed my first liver biopsy after transplant. It is quite straightforward, but for me, I was so concerned that it was my transplanted liver and it would have bleeding. And I had all these questions and it was such a challenging experience because of what I have been through leading up to it. And I think a lot of times we have to be kind on ourselves that even if it seems small, it's okay if to us we're navigating all of the emotions of it, feeling like it has a huge impact on us. But I think the sooner we can learn how to be prepared for health hiccups and then how to handle them and be able to move on from them quickly really helps put it in perspective and get through these inevitable little blips that will happen in our health journey.

With health hiccups, I think it's good to take them on day by day. And even though we know that there's likely more challenges to come, not to focus on that and get stressed or overwhelmed that we're going to have to deal with more things in the future. Now, I'm used to them that when my blood pressure starts to plummet, I know I need to lay down. In a couple of hours it will pass and then I carry on with my day.

We all find positivity and hope in different ways. For me personally, I take it one step at a time and find something in everyday that brings me joy. Whether that's going out in nature, spending time with my husband, having a community to talk to, having a circle of support has really been important.

My wish for you is that you're able to stay close to the people that provide you support and happiness and find things that bring you joy through health hiccups that you may endure because most of them do pass.

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Valen Keefer
Multi-organ Transplant Recipient
Patient Advocate
Thermo Fisher Scientific


August 1, 2022

Series: Letters of Hope (video series)