Dead Man’s Curve, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay Contest

By John Burris

To me, the ugliest word in the dialysis dictionary is phosphorous. I’ve lived for over 40 years as one who picked up not one, not two, but as many as five bottles of my favorite beverage, diet cola, each day. My “survival” depended on that added spike of caffeine. That all changed when I became a dialysis recipient and learned that my favorite drink is high in phosphorous, a nutrient that I would have to limit to stay healthy. My need for dialysis arose after I developed sepsis disease, spent time in a coma, and underwent multiple amputations. On top of adjusting to these changes, I also had to re-learn how to shop for and prepare foods to meet the requirements of my new renal diet.

I have come to think of managing my health now as being like driving on a narrow and winding road; obstacles come up often, and I must adapt quickly to stay on course. During the last four years, I have listened to three nutritionists review my monthly lab results, strictly underlining the need to “pave the highway” ahead of me in order to avoid going over “Dead Man’s Curve” again.

At times I felt defeated, but I also reaped many amazing rewards that have given me the incentive and strong will to make disciplined choices that lead to a healthy me every day.

With every meeting, my understanding of the ugliness of phosphorous deepened. I have had to re-group and focus to do my best to avoid all dietary detours. I am determined to keep my phosphorous levels in the healthy range each month, and this has meant ridding myself of old friends like diet cola and feeding my palate with new, healthier foods. As a dialysis recipient, phosphorous seems to call out to me from the shelves of the grocery store, but “control” is the game plan as I focus on survival and avoiding the need to add a binder to my medication list.

I have found so many guides to assist me on the road. I listen to other people’s quests. I learn to use the internet to find better information. Most importantly, I learn to advocate strongly for myself and feed my soul. I said to myself, “You can do this. You can survive the plates of dialysis-friendly food. It might be bland and boring but look at it another way; you will possibly be a good candidate for a kidney transplant.” I listen to the team supporting me on my dialysis journey. This adventure is tough, but I will maintain my health if I just listen to my team and feed my needs. Don’t misunderstand me. I love food, but to overcome kidney disease, I know I have to listen to my body and balance its many needs.

I am a much better individual now than I was at the beginning of this journey. Life is all about living. I face many barriers and roadblocks, but I overcome them; my conviction, and my spirit are fighting ones. Yes, I have had some setbacks, but I never gave in. My competitive dance background has given me the foundation to overcome anything. At times I felt defeated, but I also reaped many amazing rewards that have given me the incentive and strong will to make disciplined choices that lead to a healthy me every day. I will miss you like crazy, high phosphorous food-friends, but I will visit you and say hello when shopping. You might not be on my shopping list or make it into my cart, but we are still friends.

la versión en español de La curva del hombre muerto por John Burris aqui

John  Burris – Artistry is Dance; my passion is to share my spirit and convictions…………Perseverance is the strengths of facing challenges the goals are stay focus and  to be in line  with many decisions . A dancer in the competition field is to always pre-set your life dreams even if there are detours . I was  Mr Dance of New England – a Professional Dancer with Busch Gardens VA  and Disney Tokyo – Owner and Artistic Director of the “Huntington Dance Centre – President of Dance Teachers Club of CT for Dance Masters of America

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