Story Sharing: Lauren

Recently the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois asked Lauren, how has kidney disease affected your life? Read below to learn more about Lauren, a motivated and dedicated fighter, and her sudden efforts to maintain good health.

Being adopted meant not knowing much about my family medical history. The only thing I knew growing up was that my biological mother and grandfather both had kidney disease. I knew I'd be tested for it, but as a child I never really understood what that would entail, and had the delusion as most kids do that it could never happen to me. Somehow I thought I would just get lucky and it would skip over me.

As a teenager I saw a nephrologist once a year and had two biopsies to confirm that I did in fact inherit FSGS (focal segmental glomerulosclerosis) from my biological mother. At the time I was showing no symptoms, so it had very little impact on my life. Again, I thought perhaps I could prolong this well into my forties and deal with it "later".

College came and went, as did a few jobs. I got married to a wonderful man who had health problems of his own. He still talks about the future as if he'll beat me to the proverbial pearly gates. We moved away from our friends and family for jobs in Chicago. We were living the dream, enjoying State Street and Michigan Ave. every weekend. I had all but forgotten about my disease.

Shortly after we defected to the suburbs, I started experiencing blurred vision. I had been tired for awhile and had been having constant, unusual migraines. When my vision got so poor I couldn't perform at work I finally saw a doctor, not realizing the implications for my disease. He sent me to the ER for high blood pressure where I was diagnosed with kidney failure and sent to surgery for my dialysis catheter. All of a sudden, I am 27, in the hospital, and dying, when I was literally at the top of a mountain not a month before. I went through all stages of grief simultaneously: I was grieving over my lost life, because from that point on my reality had changed to one of subsistence and survival.

It has been a little over two months, and I still "survive" each day. I hide behind my work, my family, and a sense of humor. All I can think about is returning to life, not letting my disease and my treatment run me into the ground. People like to tell you "Just take it one day at a time." That is the worst advice I could follow. Each day is a chore, but the benefit is a future full of vitality where I can be a functioning member of society. Where I can begin a family and grow in my career. Where I can go out into the world and say "Look at me- this happened. I overcame. You can too."

Kidney health is important to me because it is something nearly everyone takes for granted. It is easy to talk about being "heart healthy". The kidneys are a multifunctional, complex organ that do so much. People need to know how to protect their kidneys from harm, but also how their healthy kidney can give life without subtracting from theirs. Don't let this sneak up on you. Watch your blood pressure. See a doctor. Protect your body so you don't have to give up your life to stay alive.

 

 

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