I inherited high blood pressure from my mother. Doctor put me on blood pressure medication. No one got too concerned.
No doctor, and I had several because I was moving cities, warned me that blood pressure can impact my kidneys. And the kidneys were not well. I had protein in my urine which is the first sign of kidney disease.
All the doctors said was not to worry. It might be genetic.
So I kept my life style intact. Travelled the world. Ate in restaurants (lots, lots of salt) and my blood pressure became erratic because of sleepless nights, time zone changes, stress from travel and long working hours.
And no one, no doctor told me it will impact my kidneys.
I found out about my chronic kidney disease by chance. I repeat: by chance. No doctor told me anything.
I was attending a lecture by an MD how to read and understand blood tests. He said if creatinine is too high you might have kidney disease.
I looked. Mine was definitely out of range. So I asked him if I have kidney disease. He said “ sure”.
How come no doctor told me that?
A kidney doctor years later told me why. There is nothing they can do. You can not rejuvenate a kidney. And the kidney deteriorates ten percent a year because of age. Since they can not do anything to heal my kidney, they were keeping mum.
But there is treatment. They were wrong. Alternative medicine prescribed to go vegan and avoid animal protein that stresses the kidney to work harder than necessary.
I did as prescribed and kept away from dialysis or transplant for six years.
It was a mistake.
Here is why.
When finally my kidney stopped working I had to go on dialysis and had to look for a donor.
But those six years were critical. By the time, I was to go on dialysis I was too old to go on the list for a cadaver donor.
I missed the opportunity.
Now no hospital is willing to put me on the waiting list. Too old.
So I need to have a living donor. None of my family qualified. Friends were too old. Or their children too young. Or they came from a developing country and the hospital where the transplant was going to take place suspected I bought the kidney and rejected it.
Getting a donor was a painful. stressful via dolorosa.
Here are some experiences I have had. There must be a moral to this story somewhere…
A Jewish religious organization from Israel found for me an altruistic donor. He refused to meet me or to know me. He wanted it to be totally anonymous but had one condition that the surgery be done at Stanford University since his wife started a new job at the Silicon Valley and he wanted to be close to her during the surgery.
I called Stanford to decide. “Are you on dialysis?” the chairman of the department asked me.
At that time I was not; I was trying to avoid going to surgery after dialysis which I knew will make me weak.
“Sorry we cannot take you. You have to be on dialysis. ““But sir”, I started pleading,” I am 79 years old. To be on dialysis and then start looking for a donor because I will probably lose this one, by then I will be eighty years old if not older. “
“Sorry our cut of age is eighty and we cannot help you. “
End of the call.
I went to UCLA where the chair of the transplant department is a friend. Please talk to Stanford I pleaded. Convince them to make an exception
“Ok we will “said the Department head at Stanford “but first we will examine your donor. If he does not meet our criteria of acceptance no need to examine you “
I agreed and waited impatiently for the results.
Next thing I know the head of UCLA is all upset with me. Very.
“Your donor asked for money and that is illegal. He said you promised to pay him. You or the religious organization that recruited him “
I tried to reason with him and swore in everything dear to me that I did not offer money. Called Israel the religious organization to see what happened.
“ He asked to be compensated for the two weeks wages he is losing by being in the hospital and we promised him that because in Israel the government pays it. “
Well, in Israel it is ok in USA it is forbidden.
I lost my donor.
Now I am stuck.
Because I have not been long enough on dialysis I have to be at the bottom of the list for cadaver kidney.
Because of my age they refuse to put me on the list.
So all my vegan diet to postpone dialysis is working against me. I, who did the right thing, I am getting punished and the alcoholic who destroyed his kidney with bad health care is on the top of the list.
Time flies and every day I get older my chances to get a transplant are lower. In the meantime dialysis is not doing well for me.
Not only that it takes twenty hours a week of my schedule, I am also wasted after dialysis. Weak and must lie down. I am becoming weaker to the point I cannot work well. My mind is getting foggy. I am getting forgetful. Can not find my latest draft of a new book I am writing.
This is sad because I have so much more to do. I have drafts of new books to write. But I am fading fast.
May be for people who do not need to be creative, dialysis is not so bad. But for me who needs his brain to work full time, to write and create it can be the end of my productive life.