April 5, 1998, is not a day that you’ll read about in history books many years from now. It is a day I will always remember. My nephew was born that day, I was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease that day, and it is the day I met my healthcare hero.
Dr. John Koscica was the nephrologist on call when I was admitted into the hospital with extremely high blood pressure and horrible swelling in my feet and ankles from having protein in my urine. He was the first person to be completely honest with me about what was going on with my body and all the new medications I was now being given.
Dr. K, as his patients often called him, was not just my doctor; he became my friend and mentor in my journey with kidney disease. He lectured me about the dangers of becoming pregnant so soon after my diagnosis, but he was there the whole time to make sure I was healthy and taking medications that wouldn’t hurt my baby. He always asked about my son when I didn’t bring him along to appointments. The last conversation I had with Dr. K included him asking about my son. When the time came to consider dialysis and a transplant, he was up-front about everything. He was honest about how hard this journey would be. His exact words to me were, “This will be one of the hardest things you will do.” He wasn’t kidding, but he was always there to give an encouraging word when I was feeling discouraged about how long it was taking to get on the transplant waiting list, or when my dialysis access was giving me fits. He always got me to focus on why I was doing this and what was at the end of the road.
When I had bariatric surgery, he gathered his team together to figure out how much weight was equivalent to the amount of fluid I was required to take in so I wouldn’t end up with fluid overload. Dr. K has been a huge part of my CKD journey and is one reason why I continue this journey. When you ask other patients about him, this is what some have said.
“I really liked him. I saw him in the office for four years. He was very nice to me and was always in a jovial mood. He made me feel special, but he was like that for all his patients. He was nice to everyone.”
“Dr. K was the most wonderful man I’ve ever met. He was kind, and the sweetest man, and I miss him terribly. He had a way about him. He was so nice to my family and me and spent time answering our questions.”
“He was wonderful. He was a great guy and a great doctor. I knew him for 25 years because my husband had him. It’s too bad this happened so fast. He didn’t even get the chance to retire. I’ll miss him.”
“He embodied everything that a doctor is and should be. He was wise and calm. Knowledgeable but personable. He was everything a doctor should be.”
“I thought he was skilled, thoughtful, and courteous. Just a great doctor, and I’ll miss him.”
“He just cared so much about me and was helping me through this. I don’t know what I’ll do without him.”
“He was always joking, but you could tell he knew what he was doing. He tried to make it fun but also addressed my concerns.”
“He made me feel safe. I’m going to miss him so much.”
“That was my doctor right there. I’m going to miss him.”
I could go on, not just from what his patients have said about him, but from those who have worked with him. He considered just about everyone he came across a friend. Dr. John Koscica passed away suddenly on July 1, 2021. He was a husband, father, friend, and a great doctor. He is missed by all who knew him. I am grateful for the 23 years he was my doctor. He taught me so much about my kidney disease, but he also taught me to find joy in the day and take things as they come. He is truly my hero in this journey. I will stop and think of him each step of the way and remember all the reasons there might be a delay, and celebrate the little steps forward.
Angela (Angie) Humble is 47 years old and lives in Kokomo, IN. She has been on dialysis for three and a half years. She recently started with Home Hemo Dialysis and is working with the University of Cincinnati transplant team for a kidney transplant. Angie works at an elementary school as a paraprofessional working with students in Preschool thru second grade. She and her husband of 21 years have three sons and 2 grandchildren. She enjoy spending time with her family and many pets.
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