I have talked in the past about how I struggle with body image post transplant and how there are certain “things” that you wish had been discussed, or at least mentioned, so that you didn’t feel so alone in dealing with them. Well friends, there is a hot new topic with a catchy name that gives a word to the biggest thorn in my vanity side; The K.U.P.A. and we have Sarah Hyland to thank.
Sarah Hyland is a lovely and talented actress who you may recognize from Modern Family. At 28-years-old, she has had a public journey in dealing with her health situations including not just one… but TWO kidney transplants. I tip my non-existent hat to her for being as open as she is about her health in the public eye.
Earlier this week, she shared a photo of her performing with Dr. Phil’s son at the Teen Choice Awards where she noticeably didn’t wear spanx.
Quick anatomy lesson:
Your kidneys are located in your lower back sides, tucked up under your rib-cage for protection.
When you get a kidney transplant, they don’t take out the non-functioning ones (unless they are cancerous, infected, or just too big due to PKD). They stick the new ones on your front side nestled in your pelvic bone for protection.
If you are a possession of a uterus, you are squishing that up along with your intestines to create a nice little POOCH that extends and makes you look vaguely pregnant at all times; more so if you spend an evening at your favorite Ramen place.
Back to the Commentary:
Let’s talk about the KUPA, or the Kidney Upper Pussy Area, and how delightful it is to see a young woman with two bonus organs shoved in her abdomen embrace the fact that her stomach isn’t flat. This is the most realistic post transplant content I’ve seen in a while. The KUPA is an unavoidable consequence of a transplant due to the placement of your new kidneys and the rest of the organs you already have leasing space. And there is no mention of it in all your pre-op appointments because:
A. The average age of a transplant patient is older and they (probably incorrectly) assume that old people don’t care about their vanity.
B. You’re gonna gain weight from the “Don’t Die” meds they put you on anyway, so they lump it in with that and just tell you you’re getting fat.
Factoring in that I am not a Hollywood actress, I don’t have access to quite the same level of health care she does, and staying svelte isn’t an important part of my day job, I really relate to the metaphorical middle finger Sarah Hyland gave by letting her body act like… well.. a body. On more than one occasion I have gotten dressed up to look amazing only to look down at the extra lovely lady lump on my abdomen. It’s a buzzkill when the Kroger checkout clerk asks when you’re due when you have a cart full of White Claw and are very much not.
Kudos to you Sarah Hyland, for giving young kidney transplant recipients a hashtaggable phrase to reclaim ownership of our slightly lopsided bodies.