Buffalo Kidney Walk 2014

We are just a week away from this years Kidney Walk in Buffalo! I know I know it’s a bit late to be writing about this but hey look on the bright side, last year I waited until the day before to write anything. See? Improvement! 

I will be doing my part by walking again this year and by raising money for the fundraiser. This year I want to talk about why it is important to donate to the Kidney Walk.

When you donate money to the Kidney Walk what you are really doing is paying for free screenings, free public education, and free patient education and support for patients and their caregivers (family members). The reason all of those services are provided for free is because awesome people like you donate to the organization and what better time to do so than during the annual Kidney Walk?

Let me walk you through a very tough day in the life of a man named Tom. The following is a fictional story and the people and organizations in the story are fictional. For a list of services from the Northeast Kidney Foundation please contact them. 

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Tom woke up one Saturday morning and like he always did with a slight headache. Like most people he popped a few Tylenol and went on about his morning. After Tom got himself ready for the day he decided that he would go downtown for breakfast since he wasn’t really feeling up to cooking and then cleaning up afterwards and since he couldn’t ask his wife to do it for him as she was visiting her sister. Tom couldn’t find parking near the restaurant so he decided to park a couple of blocks away and walk.

This lead Tom right by a health fair being held in a large square by some office buildings. Tom thought that it looked interesting so he decided to look around for a little while, it didn’t hurt that there were hot dog and funnel cake vendors. Tom stopped at a brightly colored booth with some guy in a giant kidney custom dancing around, he wasn’t interested in the booth at all he was just taken by surprise at the man in the costume. While Tom was watching the giant kidney dance around a lady at the booth asked if he would like to have a free blood pressure screening. Tom thought about this for a moment until the lady emphasized once again that it was free and Tom thought “Oh what the heck.” 

Tom sat down in a little plastic chair by the booth and put his arm out so the lady could attach the blood pressure cuff. He was a little annoyed with the cuff once it was fully inflated but he kept telling himself that it would be over soon and he guessed it was good to know what his blood pressure was. After a few moments that felt like an hour the cuff finally deflated and the machine started beeping. Tom could see a look of confusion on the face of the lady and asked “What’s wrong?” She simple smiled and told him, “Oh nothing, lets just try that again.” This time Tom felt like the entire process took an eternity. When the cuff finally deflated the machine once again started to beep.  Tom, a little panicked now, asked “What does that beeping mean?” The lady calmly told Tom, “Well, the machine is beeping because your blood pressure is high. Do you or your family have a history of high blood pressure?” Tom looked a little stunned but replied, “Well yeah, my father has high blood pressure but I never thought I would at my age.” The lady said in a very calm and professional tone, “Your blood pressure is on the very high side, you really should go to the E.R. or at least make an appointment to see your Primary Care Physician. This could be an indicator of other serious health conditions.” Tom thanked her for her advice, took a card she had handed him, got up and went to breakfast. 

He spent the entire time that he was having breakfast thinking about what the lady had said. He tried to talk himself out of going to the E.R. “It’s just a little high blood pressure, it can’t really be an emergency right? I mean won’t I get in trouble if I go to the E.R. and theres nothing obviously wrong with me?” After he had eaten and sat thinking about what the lady had told him he decided that he would go to the E.R. He called his wife and told her what had happened and she said she would meet him there. 

There they were, sitting in one of the most uncomfortable situations imaginable. That eerie time in the waiting room of the E.R., not knowing when your name will be called or what is even wrong with you. After a couple of hours Tom was called back and they put him through all sorts of tests, one being a standard blood pressure test. The nurse did note it was high but nothing to be alarmed about. Tom would later find out that it was something to be very alarmed about but the nurses were trained to downplay it as to not frighten the patient and raise their blood pressure even higher. Tom sat in the treatment bay with is wife in a cold and empty silence. His wife would occasionally try to console him and tell him that everything would be fine, that’s when the doctor came in.

The Doctor told him that his blood pressure was still high even after the medicine they had given him and the only thing they could do was keep him over night in the hospital with a special line attached to his artery to gradually bring the pressure down. Tom and his wife were shocked but agreed to this. Tom spent a week in the hospital being prodded and poked and had test after test after test ran on him. Until one day the Doctor asked Tom for his consent to do a kidney biopsy. Tom was confused with what his kidney had to do with his high blood pressure but he agreed to it. 

The day after the biopsy the Doctor sat down with Tom and his wife by Toms hospital bed and told Tom, “I’m very sorry to have to tell you this but you have end-stage renal failure by the way of an auto-immune disease.  What that means is that your kidneys are both barely functioning and that eventually you will have to start dialysis.”

Tom spent the next several months after that once sentence in absolute shock, disbelief, and depression. 

One day before he had to go see the surgeon about something called a fistula he had found the card the lady from the health fair had given him. He decided to call the number and talk to the lady about what had happened. She answered the phone in a bright and cheery tone which annoyed Tom to no end. After they had spoken for a while Tom had learned that she represented the local chapter of a Kidney Foundation and she wanted him to come by their office. Tom had nothing better to do so he decided to at least go check it out.

When Tom arrived at their office he was met by a few people and introductions were made. Tom was taken from room to room while people bombarded him with information. Tom smiled and pretended to listen but he was far to depressed to take much in. It wasn’t until the lady said, “…and we have monthly meetings of dialysis patients at the Hospital.” that Toms attention was caught. “There we go a group of people like me that I can get real answers from”, thought Tom. 

Tom found out that they were holding a meeting that very night so he decided to go. Tom met people on in-center dialysis, home dialysis, and even transplant recipients. Tom spent all night hearing horror stories and success stories. He learned what he could and couldn’t eat and how to make time pass easier while he was in treatment. Tom then realized that he had heard all of this stuff before at the Foundations office but he just hadn’t paid close enough attention until it came from someone he could empathize with.

Tom now knew he could go to the Foundation for information, free classes and demonstrations, and the monthly dialysis patient meeting and it all started with a lady volunteering her time at a booth that read “Free Blood Pressure Screenings” and do you know why it was free?

Because people like you donated whatever you could and it all added up to be able to help people like Tom and his wife have a better understanding of their new life.

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So you see your little donation helps in REALLY BIG ways.

If you would like to donate then please either click here or you will see a very nifty fund raising picture on the side bar of the front page that looks something like this.

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