It’s been said that “doctors diagnose, but nurses cure.” In dealing with chronic kidney disease (CKD), I’ve found this to be true, especially in my dialysis clinic in Augusta, GA. I’m blessed to be in the care of several amazing nurses, and I could readily write an essay about each and every one of them, but this story is about Miss Becca—my first nurse. She’s the one who pulled me through my darkest times and helped me become the well-educated, self-advocating patient I am today.
When I first started peritoneal dialysis in 2009, I was scared, confused, overwhelmed, and—most notably—very ill. You could see it in my pale skin, hear it in my tired voice, and, of course, observe it in my impressively awful lab results. I needed help! When I met Miss Becca, she made it clear that she was going to do whatever it took to get me better. I would soon find out that this included everything from replying to my frantic text messages in the middle of the night to popping in for unscheduled home visits just to check on me. She never wanted anything in return except for me to feel better.
That was reward enough for her. I could see that she was fighting for me every day, and I always knew that she had my best interests at heart. Until I was strong enough to advocate for myself, she was my advocate. She never let me get discouraged and always pushed me to make dialysis work for me, even if that meant stepping outside of what was considered the norm. She knew that each patient was an individual and that what worked for one person didn’t necessarily work for another.
The best advice I ever received came from Miss Becca, and I still carry it with me in my heart as I continue to live with CKD. She said, “You’re special. No one can know exactly how you’re feeling or what you’re experiencing except you, and you are your own best advocate.” Those words and that sentiment have helped me live a relatively healthy, normal life on dialysis for the past 3 years.
Miss Becca gave me the knowledge and the power I needed to take control of my treatment, to know my disease better than anyone else, and thus to be a model patient. I might ask a lot of questions, but no one will ever accuse me of being uninformed! I believe that the reason I’ve never developed any major problems or required any hospital stays is because of the valuable lessons I learned in those first few weeks of training.
I consider Miss Becca to be a guardian angel who was sent to me during the worst time in my life to help me become the well-adjusted patient I am today. And even though she’s no longer my nurse, she’s made it clear that I can call her whenever I need advice or an encouraging word. She still keeps tabs on me in a way that only the best nurses can, with questions like, “Are you taking your medicine, Kristi?” or “Is that dinner you’re eating low in phosphorus, Kristi?”
And I say, “Yes, Miss Becca, of course! You taught me well.” I only wish that every dialysis patient could have such an amazing nurse, advocate, and friend. It would make CKD’s long, trying road so much easier
About the Author
Kristi lives in Grovetown, GA where she works as a Virtual Assistant for Virtual Assistants of Augusta. She is currently on a journey towards becoming a healthy weight so that she may one day be eligible for a kidney transplant.
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