Local urges awareness of kidney disease

Dear Editor,

March has been designated as “Kidney Awareness Month” and unless it affects you or a family member, you probably give it very little thought. I gave it no thought at all until I was diagnosed with End Stage Renal Failure in 1997. I was in shock and disbelief. There were no warning signs, other than fatigue, which I attributed to long work hours.

At age 42, I found I was born with one kidney (Alsport Syndrome), but had no problems and my doctor thought I would not have any trouble. My condition is hereditary and usually manifests itself at an earlier age.

When my 1997 annual blood work showed End Stage Renal Failure, my world fell apart. I walked around in a daze, shocked, and refusing to believe this was happening to me. Then, I got mad and decided to go to battle with this life-threatening disease. Instead of having a pity party, I work diligently with my doctors to push dialysis as far into the future as possible.

I lost my battle to dialysis in 2008 when I found myself administering Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) in the privacy of my home. I am into the fourth month of nine years of hooking myself up to a dialysis machine for ten hours each night, seven days a week.

The average life span is five years for PD. I try to maintain a positive attitude for my own benefit and for that of my family and friends. I want them to enjoy my company and not avoid me. Several have suggested a transplant, but I elected not to go that route because I would still have the same genes to attack and probably destroy a new kidney. Peritoneal Dialysis is not a lifestyle that one would choose for themselves, but it has allowed me valuable time with my family and, for that, I am so grateful.

I could have chosen Hemodialysis and just visited a clinic three times a week for four to five-hour sessions, but felt PD was a better quality of life for me. The time may come when it becomes necessary to consider Hemodialysis, but I’ll cross that bridge when I have to.

I am blessed to have the finest doctors and nurses taking care of me at DaVita in Orangeburg. They are the very best!

South Carolina has a high rate of kidney failure patients, with African-Americans topping the list. Other info is available on the National Kidney Foundation’s website. Check it out! You may find yourself facing this life-changing disease one day; however, I hope not.

Should you find yourself in my situation and need a listening ear, send me a message to my inbox on Facebook.

Visit the waiting room of a dialysis center and I guarantee that you will leave with a different outlook on the patients that frequent these facilities and during “Kidney Awareness Month”.

Thank you and God Bless!

Jeanette C. Still,