A story of beating the odds, birthing a legacy
Throughout our life we will be met with challenges, pitfalls, failures, and heartache. This inevitability may seem unfortunate but each of these bring opportunity.
With challenges comes an opportunity to learn a new lesson or a new skill. Pitfalls bring a chance for new vision. Failures, a chance for growth. Heartache gives a new meaning to what is truly important in our lives. It is my belief that without these unhappy passages, we wouldn’t get to experience the fullness of our achievements and greatest moments.
When I began this blog, it was to tell my experiences of these trying times and to prove that there is good even in the “bad”. It has been very therapeutic thus far. Pushing me to shift my focus on the positive or beneficial points in ALL situations. Even the really tough ones.
But, after a few blog posts, I realized that I wanted to incorporate the stories of others. First, by sharing our knowledge and experiences with each other we will only be better. Second, by having more people share their silver linings this will only bring credibility and more value to the mission.
The first interview I had the pleasure of doing is from Selena. We went to grade school together, but I really didn’t get to know her until high school, where we shared a class. She always had an infectious smile and a great sense of humor. I admired her ability to be herself and what seemed like a bigger than life personality. Throughout this interview, what I would later discover is her remarkable resiliency.
As our lives continued, we would not see much of each other but I always kept up with her through social media, scrolling through her pictures and videos on my timeline, noticing those that are most important — her mother, her sisters and close friends, and above all, her beautiful daughter Logan.
Here is a piece of her story .
What’s been a challenging situation that you have learned the most from. What did you learn?
My entire life has been challenging. From having open heart surgery at 17 due to a birth defect, to finding out I was pregnant with my first child. My first doctor’s (pregnancy) appointment ended with tears. I was overly excited about my baby girl but also learned that the pregnancy would be really hard on my body and from a doctor’s standpoint, all odds were against me.
I was informed that I “should” terminate my pregnancy because there was no way that the professionals could guarantee the safety of my baby or myself. This little angel’s heartbeat was music to my ears, and I was not ready to let this go.
That day in the doctor’s office I made a decision that I would choose over and over again; I told the doctor I am going to ride this pregnancy until the wheels fall off. and IF GOD should see fit to call her (Logan) home, then it is well with my soul.
Fast forward I was at a doctor’s appointment and began to feel faint. I was rushed to the Emergency Room. On top of my glucose being 30 mmol/L (the standard glucose range is supposed to be between 90 and 120), I found out that my kidneys were shutting down on me and that I will need to have an emergency C-section. Logan came into this world two months early weighing 3 pounds 6 ounces. I saw her for all of maybe 3 minutes and then she was rushed away to the NICU.
I was released from the hospital after three days, unfortunately, my sweet baby girl had to remain in the NICU. Two days after being released from the hospital, I was rushed to the emergency room code 3 because I could not breathe. Fluid had filled my lungs and my kidneys had completely failed. While I was in CCU; Critical Care Unit, I began dialysis. Dialysis was removing the fluid, but during this time I was unable to see my baby who was still in the NICU.
A month had passed, and I was still in the hospital just two floors below my child. I asked my unit nurses if it were ok if I could go see my baby since I was feeling better. I was wheeled out of my room to the NICU only to be told, “We will allow you to see and hold her for 5 minutes but then you will have to leave”. I understood what they were saying but it didn’t make it sting any less. Because I was still in the hospital myself, they did not want germs from another floor to be brought into the NICU. No matter how my health was, I complied because my child still comes first.
My mom and my sister really stepped up to the plate to make me feel better. They would go see Logan in the NICU and then video chat me so that I could see her beautiful face. After 2 months in the NICU, Logan was released. She had to work with an early Intervention agent, a physical therapist and speech/feeding therapist. On top of these appointments, I had to make sure that I go to dialysis 3 times a week.
Logan is now all caught up and by looking at her you really couldn’t tell that she was a preemie. I am still on dialysis 3 times a week for 4 hours at a time. I mostly video chat Logan and play on my phone while on treatment. It is very easy to get depressed being that I’m still young and there is a lot of things that I still want to do in life.
When I look around, and I see that there are dialysis patients that are brought in a wheelchair or on a stretcher, gratefulness flows from my heart. Yes, I am on dialysis, but I still have movement of my limbs and I am able to drive myself back and forth to dialysis. I am currently waiting and seeking a kidney transplant.
What or who kept you pushing forward during that time?
My Mother, Cecilia Smith; My sisters Jalisa and Ashanti Smith, My Queen Street Church family. Bill and Pam Halloway. Sameca Berry. N.P. Gail Kirby, Jane Marrazzo, a host of family and friends. I really don’t like naming names, but these people mean so much to me. It seems like the more people hear my story, the more they want to see me WIN and I am forever grateful to all of you individuals.
How do you think it has changed you?
In the beginning I was extremely sad. I wonder, why me? Then I look at this beautiful angel that the Lord has given me and I realized, if I give up, if I lose hope, what am I teaching Logan? When life gives you Lemons, I want to show Logan how to make a Lemonade stand. Embrace your flaws. Embrace the trials. Embrace your high moments and the low moments. And most importantly Laugh!
What advice would you give to those who are facing difficult times?
CRY and cry and cry some more. I cannot count home many times I went to my closet, closed the door behind me, and had me a really good cry. I would weep like a little baby. After I finish, I wipe my eyes and remind myself that God always gives his toughest assignments to the strongest soldiers. After you cry find an old classic movie, or call one of your pals and laugh until your heart is content. Learn that there are some things in life that you are not going to be able to control, but whatever it is, you already have the strength inside of you to endure it.
What would you do differently if you could go back in time?
Absolutely nothing. It is all GOD’s plan.
Quarantine go-to’s to keep you occupied or give you a sense of normalcy. What is the first thing you are going to do when the world re-opens?
Painting has been a way for me to calm my anxiety and a stress reliever. I would love to have an art show for all of my works of art that express my pain, my gains, my love and triumph during this time. I also have started a Youtube channel named “Selena Lavelle” where I am sharing my highs and lows with the world. I really like to think of myself as being God’s light to bring joy and laughter to others even when I feel blue.
“A ship in the harbor is safe… but that is not what ships were built for”.William Shedd
Selena is an incredible woman and I’m so glad she allowed me to share some of her story. If you would like to donate to help raise money for her kidney transplant you can visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/selena-smith-kidney-transplant, her pay pal account is $smooches2u22, or you can send funds or words of encouragement to PO BOX 1295 Taylors, SC 29687.
She is fighting to get off of dialysis and if you felt moved please share this story. I can not stress how important it is to spread the word and how much even the smallest donation can make a difference.
You can truly change someone’s life by donating a kidney. If you’re interested in learning more or beginning the process of organ donation, please contact MUSC Health’s Living Donor Program at:
Address: 162 Ashley Avenue MSC 586, Charleston, SC 29425
or visit https://muschealth.org/medical-services/transplant/living-donation and register as a donor.
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