Faith and a positive attitude helps.
As told to Our Health Matters.
I’ve lived with stage 4 renal kidney disease (advanced kidney damage that leads to dialysis treatment or a transplant.) for 12 years, and Type 2 diabetes* for more than 30 years. Type 2 diabetes results when the body either doesn’t produce enough sugar (insulin), or it resists insulin. I’ve had health challenges since my 40s. Now, I’m approaching 70, leaning on my faith, living a “much healthier lifestyle,” and the best quality of life with my condition.
For years I struggled with being overweight, higher than normal blood pressure (I take as many as three different blood pressure medicines), diabetes and neuropathy (nerve damage in feet and hands caused by diabetes). Living with a chronic condition is difficult because you’re focused on your health 24-7.
How did I get here?
Diabetes and kidney disease run in my family. My mom died in 1955, at age 43 from kidney failure; her mother suffered with dropsy, a term used in the 40s to describe edema, a condition where fluid accumulates in the body, leading to swelling in feet, ankles and legs. There is also diabetes on my dad’s side of the family, and I have a 91- year-old cousin who is on dialysis. Preventing diabetes was never on my list of priorities even after seeing family members die. I was so uninformed.
When you’re young, you don’t pay attention to health or the warning signs. I ate badly for years and was not active. I would make 7UP® pound cakes from scratch, peach cobblers, homemade ice cream. I ate rich and starchy foods, lots of sweets, fats and processed foods. I had to make a change. I now watch what I eat and follow strict diabetic dietary guidelines prescribed by my nutritionist.
How I learned my kidneys were damaged.
I’ll always remember the date I learned I had kidney failure, it was 12 years ago on Christmas day. I had been feeling bad and experiencing a strong body odor for 2 weeks and itching a lot. I didn’t know what was causing it. After being rushed to the emergency room at Menorah Hospital, it was there that Dr. Neufeld a nephrologist, gave me the bad news—my kidneys and liver were failing.
I see my nephrologist (kidney doctor), endocrinologist diabetes doctor), diabetes educator and nutritionist every three months at Reach Kidney Care which helps to delay going into dialysis, a kidney treatment that removes waste and extra fluid from the blood. My biggest supporter is my husband Floyd of 50 years, who encourages me to keep moving forward. I recently received a report that my liver is working normally. That’s good news!
If you don’t have diabetes, take steps to learn how to eat healthier—and exercise! If you don’t know what to do, ask your doctor for help, talk to a nutritionist, work with a diabetes educator.
I know my faith works. Friends say I don’t act or look like I’m sick. That’s a great compliment. I’m fighting back and won’t give up.
Rosie Lindsey is an active senior who works part-time as a receptionist at Community Linc. an organization that helps homeless individuals and families with housing and workforce training.