Let’s Talk about the KUPA

Not this kind of Koopa

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.

Photo Credit: EMedical Updates

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.

Photo Credit: Mayo Clinic

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.

Related Post: Post Transplant Body Image Issues

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.

The “It’s Going To Be OK” Challenge

Real talk for a hot minute; life is currently bit… well… let’s call it busy. Had a few curve balls thrown at me in the past week. It all got sorted. Side eye was given to the appropriate people (you know who you are). All in all, it’s fine. Nobody is on fire.

Sunday night, it was NOT fine though. One of the great “perks” of anxiety is that it takes a perfectly reasonable or slightly irritating situation (applying for a new apartment, and the running around that goes along with it) and makes it the END OF THE WORLD. So, while hyperventilating over the extremely unlikely situation of having to live in my car with my cat, I did a little bit of what I like to call “Fix My Problem Googling”; type in whatever is bothering you in a statement and let the great unknown algorithm attempt to fix your problems. And I came across this wonderful post from Evergreen Counseling listing 101 Reasons Why It Will All Be Okay. It’s a great list with great resources and worth a bookmark for the next time you feel overwhelmed with life.

After reading that, and screaming in to the void a little more, I got to thinking….

Source: A Dead Tumblr Account

… although that is a fantastic list that is full of really good legitimate resources and advice, it would be a good self-care exercise to make my own version with items specific to me so that when I’m doing the anxiety brain pacing, I can reference it and get a dose of reality as it relates to me. I’m not one for the whole “positive culture” (I actually think that mindset is kinda toxic), but I do believe in the study of positive psychology and finding the aspects within yourself to help bring you out of your dark patches.

Make a list! Find 10 things that remind you that everything is going to be OK. Not a gratitude list or things that make you happy (although those are good too), but a list of things that reaffirm that everything will work out and that there is still good in the world. You can scribble it on a napkin or make it into a vision board. I don’t care. I just want you to make a list. If you want to share, tag me on Instagram @glitterandprofanity or post it on my Facebook page.

With that and in no particular order, I present my 10 Ways Everything Is Going To Be Ok.

1: I’ve made it this far and through far worse challenges. I have the wherewithal to take on those challenges, even if I stomp my feet like a toddler while doing so.

2: I can, and do, function fairly well as an adult when I actually make the effort.

3: This Charlie Chaplin Quote:

Source: WealthyGorilla.com

4: There is a 3rd person showing signs of being cured from HIV.

5: I can do hard things. I can walk away when I know I’ve had enough. I can say no to people I care about.

6: This Tina Fey Quote:

Source: Marie Claire

7: I have a group of strong and powerful women, both friends and family, that have faith in me when I don’t have faith in myself.

8. Anxiety actually has legitimate benefits, like always having backup plans and being able to anticipate problems before they happen.

9. This video of voice actor, Rob Paulsen, talking about battling throat cancer.

10. Things like the Internet and Google exist, making it possible to find answers, solutions, and other people in your situation without having to leave your house or talk to another person. 10 seconds of frantic typing and then you can see that you’re not alone in whatever is troubling you, others have survived it, and here’s how you can too.

Write your lists. Keep them handy. Add to them as needed. You’ll thank yourself later.