Dialysis, My New Reality

Monday, March 27, 2017 was pretty frightening as days go.  I checked into Missouri Baptist Hospital to get a port put in my chest that would equip me to begin receiving dialysis.

I’d been trying to do a miracle cure to keep my first transplanted kidney from failing and I tried everything!  Acupuncture, infrared sauna, diet, meditation, you name it, I tried it.  I knew of people who’d had miracles occur spontaneously or with hard work and I was siding with that bunch.

Only that’s not how it happened.

I saw my doctor the prior Wednesday, and when he said he’d see me in 6 weeks, by the time I got home, I knew I wouldn’t last 6 weeks.  I wasn’t sure I could last a few days.

How did I know?  What did I feel like?

It’s really hard for me to describe what it feels like to have very limited kidney function.  Anything and everything I was putting in my body wasn’t getting filtered out.  And you wouldn’t believe how much has to be filtered.  While food is designed to nourish us, it has so many minerals, and in the case of processed foods, chemicals, that our kidneys must filter out so we don’t die from the overload.

When your kidneys aren’t functioning, even the liquids don’t get filtered out.

My body felt full and thick. I felt like I was drowning in fluid. I felt cloudy in my head and a bit nauseous.

I finally realized I needed dialysis.  There was no miracle cure happening for me.

But when I think about it, I actually was about to start experiencing a true miracle.  I had 3 kidneys, my native ones which failed when I was 34, plus one from my sister that had lasted 22 years and none of them worked.

For me to stay alive, I needed dialysis.


My transplant failed after 22 years.  Not a miracle. Well, I guess that’s a miracle!  22 years is a LONG time!!

Getting hooked up to a machine to clean my blood for 3 ½ hours every other day is definitely a miracle!

I was knocked out for the port placement so I don’t remember that.  I remember they wheeled me out of my room into the dialysis unit a few doors down, and then hooked me up.  It was loud and the room was cold.

And it wasn’t but an hour when I started getting a migraine.  It took me a good minute to figure out it was a migraine cause it had been more than 10 years since I’d had one.  We’d tried Tylenol and nothing was happening.  Luckily my doctor believed me and ordered the Zomig which had worked so many years before.

And I was on dialysis 4 times a week for the next two years and got a migraine every time.  I remember the times I forgot to bring my meds with me and suffered through those 3+ hours like they were a month.

It’s Kidney Awareness Month.  Do you know why kidneys fail?

In my case, I found out I had a kidney disease when I was 28.  Berger’s disease is a kidney disease that occurs when an antibody called immunoglobulin A (IgA) builds up in your kidneys, ultimately causing them to fail.  Others might have polycystic kidney disease or other diseases.

I like to let people know that diabetes and heart disease are the two main culprits for kidney failure.  Both of these can be managed early on with dietary changes.  Sugar is probably the biggest culprit along with processed foods and consuming the wrong kinds of fat.

Perhaps my ultimate goal in life is to encourage people to be curious.  Be detectives.  Take a stand for yourself.  Be your own advocate.  Reframe old beliefs.

I think that everyone alive should know more about what foods do to their bodies and how various dietary changes and even the eating window in a day can have such positive impacts on your kidneys, liver, pancreas and heart.

And in this case learn about Insulin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, heart health and liver health.

People with kidney diseases can do their own part in managing their health.  But for the peeps who consume their way to kidney failure and ultimately needing dialysis or someone else’s kidney to live.  Take heed and get ready to save your health.

My next piece will be about my journey from the dialysis chair to my professional “what’s next!”

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