I'm a British expat who's been living in San Francisco since 1989. I was a successful leadership coach and avid cricket player until one day, five years ago, I was shocked to discover I had chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Kidney disease is a growing epidemic that gets very little publicity compared to other major diseases like heart problems and cancer. Over 30 million people in the USA alone have the disease and 96% of those who are in Stage 1 or 2 are not aware of it because there are no symptoms until the late stages. And often it's too late to arrest the decline. I should know. By the time I was discovered to have CKD I was in stage 3 and tried to do everything I could to stop moving from Stage 3 to Stage 4 and kidney failure. But it was too late.
So get your kidneys checked regularly. At least once a year.
But, if your kidneys fail you don't despair. It doesn't have to be the end of the world.
It's true hemodialysis is pretty awful. This involves visiting a clinic for the better part of three weekdays and having your blood flushed to get rid of the toxins your deceased kidneys used to eliminate from my body. But peritoneal dialysis is a much better alternative. You're hooked up to a computerized machine by your bed and your system is flushed with dextrose solution via the peritoneum for eight hours every night. It's less dangerous than hemodyalysis and you can have a relatively normal life during the daytime.
But knowing that the waiting list for a cadaver's kidney was at least seven years I was terrified of leading a half life and one, like many people, that would end before there was a kidney available for me. I asked my beloved partner of nine years, Karin, if she would give me one of her kidneys. After much agonizing, fear, and resistance from friends and family members, Karin took the plunge and came to my rescue.
But not before we had to do a fundraising campaign on the internet to raise the money for the aftercare which was not covered by health insurance and without which the hospital would have refused to do the transplant.
Through the "generosity of many" I discovered that people will be there to help you if you have the courage to reach out and ask for help. Over 150 individuals stepped up and between them made it possible for ME to receive one of Karin's kidneys.
So when you're in dire need have the courage to ask for help. Don't suffer and try to tough it out. There's no shame in admitting you're gravely ill. You will be amazed. People will be there for you. They want to help.
This courageous act of love saved my life and now Karin is even stronger than she was before donating one of her kidneys!
You can live with one kidney as well as with two!
Her chapter in the book is called 'Why should I give you my kidney?' Both Karin and I want to encourage others to give the gift of donation in the knowledge that you can live just as well with one kidney as two. Recovery is a long process but three years later, after two rejection episodes and many ups and downs, I'm getting stronger. And, who knows, I may even play cricket again one day!
I decided to write the story of my journey and the miracles that occurred along the way. I wanted to turn a terrible life changing episode into a positive that would benefit others.
Like myself, you too, when faced with life threatening and horrible circumstances, can find the opportunities that arise from adversity and the wisdom and blessings that come from moving through to a brighter future.
Read Michael's inspiring and helpful book 'Gotta Kidney?! A Journey Through Fear To Hope And beyond'. Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle and at bookstores near you.
Find out more about Michael, the book and why he wrote it at www.gottakidney.com where you can also hear Michael reading some quotes from the book and being interviewed on the Ed Tyll Show in the USA.