“I was placed on dialysis when I was 30 years old. Before my diagnosis of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or kidney failure, I had been an active, adventurous world traveler. I spent time in the Middle East, first in the Army, then later as a civilian defense contractor. When I finally rotated back to Kansas City, I got a job with a security company and starting fielding new opportunities that could send me around the world again.
It was around that time that I began to experience some health issues. I was rapidly gaining weight and performing even the simplest tasks would wipe me out. One night after work I decided to stop by an emergency room and get checked out. After the nurse drew blood, the doctor came in to talk to me about the results of the labs. The look on his face told me something was wrong.
The doctor explained to me that I had ESRD and needed dialysis immediately. I received a central venous catheter, and someone came to tell me what the next few years would look like. A nurse gave me a small pamphlet with a basic outline of what dialysis was and, after a brief discussion, left the room. That was the extent of the education I got before being pushed through the healthcare pipeline.
I was discharged from the hospital a few days later, feeling numb and not really sure where to go from there. Before I left the hospital, I got an appointment for my first dialysis treatment.”