Friday, March 04, 2011

Living With Kidney/Renal Failure

Those who are on dialysis as a result of renal/kidney failure have to be prepared and find the strength to undergo treatment about three days a week for about three to four hours.

Keva Poitier, a beautician who was diagnosed eight years ago with a kidney disease known as Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) is one such person.

She has to undergo haemodialysis three times a week for four hours.

Both of her kidneys have been affected and there is no known cause or cure for her particular form of renal failure.

However, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is usually a debilitating illness associated with increased morbidity, premature mortality, decreased quality of life, and increased healthcare expenditures.

If left undetected and untreated or if inappropriately managed, it can result in Established Renal Failure, necessitating renal replacement therapy, such as dialysis or kidney transplantation.

Risk factors for kidney disease include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and obesity, which are all commonly seen within The Bahamas.

Ms. Poitier did not have any of those factors, which is why there is no known cause for her disease.

She explained that FSGS is a disease where the kidney function degenerates to the point where an individual loses the ability to filter out the waste from blood and also to regulate the hormonal part the kidneys play in the endocrine system.

“It is a disease that is seldom detected until you are into kidney failure. When I found out I had the disease, I had less than 25 per cent of my kidneys functioning,” Ms Poitier said.

“So consequently, I spent the next five years pursuing various treatments to try and stay the disease. Even with that small function, the body is still fantastic, you could live without having to go on dialysis.”

However, she said none of the treatments brought about positive results. “I pursued treatments with the Miami Kidney Group, I went to Cuba, I did treatments here, I did the natural thing; I did everything you could think of.”

Unfortunately, this type of disease is not eligible for a transplant, as FSGS has a high rate of re-infecting the transplanted kidneys, Ms. Poitier said.

As a result, she has been on dialysis for three and a half years. At first Ms. Poitier was on Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis, which she did daily at home four times a day.

She had to switch over to haemodialysis after she got an infection earlier this year. Ms Poitier now has to get up at 3:15 a.m. to be at the hospital for 4:00 a.m. to sit on the machine for four hours in hopes of feeling well enough to go to work.

With haemodialysis, travelling becomes highly restrictive, and that is something Ms. Poitier has to deal with, as she loves to be on the move.

However, there are some positive stories of persons who have survived kidney/renal disease.

Nicholas Hepburn, production manager, Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas was on haemodialysis for 13 years before he received a transplant. He was on the waiting list in New Orleans for about five years.

He ended up having to go on dialysis as a result of hypertension.

Mr. Hepburn first got diagnosed when he was about 19 at university in the United States.

He went on to lose a lot of weight with eating right and exercising and was able to come off medication.

“When I returned home, I got back into not disciplining myself and put back on the weight,” Mr. Hepburn said.

As a result, he ended up with renal/kidney failure and damage to his heart.

“All it boiled down to was knowledge. I believe if you have knowledge and understanding about what is going to happen, then only a fool will get back into it.”

Now he takes his medication on time every day at the same time, because he knows the effects of being on dialysis.

“Sometimes after dialysis, you feel like your head is spinning, you have nausea, your pressure drops really low; sometimes you have to lay down a bit and catch yourself. You also feel drowsy; every now and then you can experience vomiting.”

He added, “Dialysis is something you have to accept. I have found that a patient who does not accept, is a patient who normally does not survive.”

“You have to accept dialysis and this is the way you have to live, your lifestyle is going to change. You cannot jump on a plane and go away everyday or every weekend or once a month.”

He said there are about eight medications to take; you must get up and go on the machine any time of day, and whatever you have to do, you must put that aside and get your dialysis treatment.

“If you do not, you are taking the risk of your blood getting contaminated and you could possibly die or face other health problems.”

Source: The Bahama Journal

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