Kidney Disease and organ failure is something that can strike people of any age, at any time in their lives, often completely without warning. If you are fortunate enough to have the disease detected at an early stage, there are a lot of steps that can be taken to mitigate the symptoms and keep your body healthy – but it’s up to the patients to take those steps and stick with it.
When Mark Taylor was diagnosed with kidney disease 12 years ago, he didn`t take the lifestyle changes his doctor recommended seriously. While he did take some of the initial medication he was given, his diet and day-to-day behaviour didn’t change.
“No one really filled me in on what the effects could be,” Mark said. “We didn’t have the fancy books now on living with kidney disease. I fell off the medicine and injections, and let it go by the wayside. Then two years ago I started feeling really weak, and I was weaker than my sister who had a liver transplant. I thought, if I can’t compete with my sister, this isn’t a good sign.”
Mark’s condition worsened rapidly, to the point that, by his own admission, he suffered from chronic diarrhea and vomiting. After a quick round of blood work, his doctor ordered him to head to the ER, where he received a dramatic prognosis.
“The ER doctor said they’d never seen anyone with a creatinine level that high with someone who was still functional,” Mark said. “A normal person’s level was 50-75mL/min. When I was first diagnosed I was at the 150mL/min range, but the day before emergency visit I was near 1500mL/min. They said I should be either completely illiterate, in a coma, or dead. The fact that I drove myself to emergency blew their minds.”
“I was pretty angry with myself, blaming myself for not giving myself more care and concern when I was younger. At the time, the first shock was blaming myself.”
After hearing that alarming news, Mark decided that it was time to make changes to his life, and commit to them. He has been placed on the organ transplant waiting list, and has transitioned from in-hospital dialysis to in-home dialysis. He began altering his diet, losing a significant amount of weight since then, and tries to stay as active as his condition will allow.
“It’s about taking control and having the choice to do things on your own terms, and knowing how your body will react to things. I know where my blood pressure should be, how to adjust my dry weight based on how I’m feeling. I’ve been given that training and I know what to do, and to me that was very empowering.”
While all of that has helped his condition greatly, the message he wishes to share with other patients is the importance of maintaining a positive attitude. “People ask me what my philosophy on life is, and to me, I want to make sure today is a good day because I may not wake up tomorrow,” Mark said.
“In general it’s served me well, even through all the challenges I’ve faced. Pretty much everything that could go wrong has go wrong. This is a great place we live in, who wants to leave it now? I want to enjoy the world we live in, life is worth living. It’s not something to get down about, we don’t know when we’re really going to die, so let’s make sure we’re enjoying life while we have the time.”