Yesterday was a good day. I went to the UCLA Transplant Center for my two-and-a-half-year kidney transplant checkup. “The kidney is doing great,” my doctor told me with a big smile. I returned the smile but picked up on something strange. It’s like, “the kidney,” is a separate entity from the rest of me. Its job is to keep me alive by filtering my blood and removing waste. My job is to remember that the transplant was not a cure for my chronic kidney disease. I need to continue doing everything I can to nurture and care for “the kidney.”

I can’t believe it has been two-and-a-half years since my aunt renewed my lease on life. It still blows my mind. It blows my mind that my aunt’s kidney is doing a job my body could not do. It blows my mind to think that I would either be in a dialysis clinic or not alive today had my aunt not done what she had. What a wonderful gift.

For some reason, going to the UCLA clinic feels different than going to my regular kidney specialist; it carries more weight even though they do roughly the same thing. In some ways, my regular nephrologist is more thorough. But, I couldn’t help being nervous in the days leading up to the appointment. The crazy thing was that I had a very good idea what my doctor would say because I did blood work about four weeks ago. I couldn’t help thinking that maybe, somehow, something could have changed. I wonder if that anxiety will ever fade, or whether it will stay the same or even intensify as “the kidney” ages.

While driving to and from the appointment, I thought about the long journey I’ve taken to get where I am today. Over time, I’ve learned to appreciate the ups, downs, and plateaus. I thought about going into kidney failure, and spending months in a dialysis clinic. I thought about the day of the transplantation surgery and the recovery. I thought about all the people I met along the way.

In the elevator to go home, I flushed with anxiety. For some reason, I feel like an imposter, like I have gotten away with something. After all this time, I still feel like I am living on borrowed time. I picked at my cuticle as the elevator rumbled down and then hurried to the car to escape. I think that feeling is a reminder of the fragility of life, a reminder to be thankful for every day.