My medical experience could help prolong your life

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR - William M. Esposo - The Philippine Star

On Friday, August 17, at 5:30 p.m., Anvil Publishing and Powerbooks will formally launch my book — Surviving Chronic Kidney Disease, The Billy Esposo Kidney Diaries - at Powerbooks, second floor, Greenbelt 4, Makati City. The book was the product of my 12 years experience, starting December 1999 when I started undergoing hemodialysis treatments at the Makati Medical Center, and my eventual kidney transplant on January 9, 2002.

It was my great fortune to have had a friend and fellow gourmet, the late Miss Trinidad “Tubby” Fernandez, precede me as a patient of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Tubby and I loved to dine in the finest restaurants in the world. Together with close friends, Tubby and I had feasted in Singapore, Scotland, and New York. It’s the great loss of the Lifestyle, Asian Food and Travel and Living Channels not to have discovered Tubby and featured her on one of their food shows.

Considering the length of time and the volume of good, rich food that Tubby and I had feasted on for a good half-century of our lives, CKD or otherwise called end stage renal failure, became our just desserts — in a manner of speaking. Something had to give from all that intake of rich food.

By the time I was watching my creatinine and BUN (two blood tests indicating kidney state) rise to critical levels during the late 1990s, Tubby was already undergoing hemodialysis in New York where she had moved to live with the rest of her sisters. I knew that in time my creatinine and BUN levels would cross the line when hemodialysis treatment will also be required.

Among the initial problems that people who are afflicted with chronic kidney disease will have to cope with, are the following:

1. Adjusting physically and psychologically to the new reality that one has a potentially terminal disease. Many enter the denial stage upon learning that they have the disease. Denial neither heals nor eases the problem. It only makes it more difficult to address, especially when the afflicted refuses to change dietary and fluid intake habits.

2. Knowing the full scope of the problem that will require a major adjustment in dietary habits and lifestyle.

3. Adapting to the protocol for coping with the disease which includes living with the new reduced levels of daily liquid intake and the avoidance of foods that are rich in potassium, protein and phosphorus that can trigger complications.

Because Tubby shared with me a lot of invaluable insights to our problem — that eased my adjustment to my new health requirements. Her insights and experiences helped me tremendously during the stage when I was undergoing hemodialysis and later when I finally had my kidney transplant.

The wheel of life came full circle when I myself became a similar guide to other people who suffered from the disease. Many had sought me out to hear it directly from one who went through hemodialysis and kidney transplantation. Some of them were people whom I did not know and were just referred to me by friends.

When I started undergoing hemodialysis in December 1999, many of my friends and kin inundated my mailbox with emails inquiring how I was coping with the deadly disease. In fact, because of the number of people I had to reply to, I was forced to create a “Kidney” email group, composed of these friends and kin who were regularly in touch to monitor my condition.

Before I realized it, I was e-blasting “Medical Bulletins” on not just my condition but also on the new experiences I was having while undergoing hemodialysis, as well as updates on my kidney transplant. My emails became some sort of a medical center cyberspace drama.

Titled “The state of the kidney” — this diary of my hemodialysis and kidney transplant experiences totaled 94 entries spanning some 28 months. The very first email was sent in March 2000.

My CKD saga had generated a great deal of human interest notwithstanding the fact that a lot of people had a natural inclination to find out more about the disease. CKD currently brings around 10,000 Filipinos into dialysis treatments every year. Nowadays, a Filipino will likely know a friend or a kin that had been afflicted with CKD. Together with a heart attack or a stroke, chronic kidney disease is now a top Philippine killer. CKD has been listed by the Health Department as the tenth cause of mortality among Filipinos. In many cases, the fear stems more from the cost of the treatments rather than the prospect of meeting one’s Maker.

To my surprise, I would occasionally receive emails from people who were not in my mailing list but who received my “The state of the kidney” series from someone in the original circulation. After the initial shock of learning that I had the problem, quite a number of the original recipients found the emails interesting to read and forwarded these to friends and kin.

Thus, I decided to heed the advise of many friends and kin, including some of my Makati Medical Center (MMC) doctors and some of the doctors of the National Kidney and Transplantation Institute (NKTI), to write this book that’s mostly culled from those e-mailed experiences. The doctors felt that such a wealth of experiences from someone who actually went through 25 months of hemodialysis treatments and now has over ten years of experience with kidney transplantation will be most helpful to new and potential sufferers of the disease.

Global CKD data reported that an average of 240 million people worldwide have diabetes while nearly 1 billion people suffer from hypertension. About 40 percent of diabetics eventually suffer from CKD while hypertension is the highest cause of CKD in the world. The cumulative global cost of dialysis and transplantation worldwide is projected to breach the $1 trillion level and this will certainly strain the health budgets of even the developed countries.

Just as I had greatly benefited from the shared experiences of my friend Tubby, I now share my own insights and experiences with those who may find themselves among the over 10,000 Filipinos who encounter end stage renal failure every year.

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Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: [email protected] and www.chairwrecker.com

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