Things to Feel Thankful For
Thanksgiving will be the second time I celebrate the holiday with “Hercules”, my kidney from a deceased donor. I’m forever grateful to the donor and his family, and am humbled by the bounty of blessings I can be thankful for.
I can’t thank my wife Hilva enough for saving my life by insisting that I get checked out in Fall of 2009. Without her, I might not be around to write this!
In my first weeks and months on dialysis, I was anything but a model patient. I didn’t show up regularly for treatment, and was angry and in deep denial about my situation. Fortunately, my first care plan meeting in Spring 2010 set me on the right path. I began going to dialysis three times a week. Thank you, DaVita K Street, for not giving up on me.
In a few weeks I started feeling better, and I never looked back. In 2011, I stopped smoking and started exercising, and the change in lifestyle changed the course of my life. I started to advocate for my own health, and found that I could advocate for other kidney warriors too!
I thank my friends at the Mid-Atlantic Renal Coalition, the American Association of Kidney Patients, the National Kidney Foundation, and the American Kidney Fund for helping me find my voice as a patient advocate. Special thanks goes to the American Kidney Fund for paying the insurance premiums that I could not afford for 5 years.
I’m thankful for learning that there's no shame in asking for help if you need it, and to keep searching and asking until you get the help that you need. That's something else that I thank my wife Hilva for teaching me.
I thank Baxter for making the equipment that freed me from in-center hemodialysis for an entire year. I’m also thankful for having kidney disease treatment options. In 2 years I went from nocturnal in-center hemodialysis to PD at home to regular in-center hemodialysis to a kidney transplant, and each transition was right for me at the time. Each of us is different, and what’s right for one may not be the best option for others.
In June of 2015, I was blessed with a kidney transplant from a deceased donor, and my kidney twin Latitia Felus and I pay our blessings forward by advocating to improve the quality of life of people with kidney disease. Earlier this month, we gave the keynote speech together at the National Kidney Foundation’s Patient Education Conference in Greenbelt, MD, and the “Kidney Twins” were well received!
I'm thankful that I can pay my blessings forward every day by helping other kidney warriors in their struggle with kidney disease. I’m now a full-time healthcare advocate, and I honor those who have helped me by being the best patient advocate I can be.
I thank all the people in Home Dialysis Central and other kidney disease-facing Facebook groups for sharing useful information and inspiring me to inspire others.
My battle with kidney disease has blossomed into an opportunity to help others in similar circumstances. I am grateful for the people who have helped and continue to help me and others in need. I'm thankful for a second chance to be vital and happy.