About 10 months ago, I was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. I was a typical teenager going to school, having fun with all my friends and family and living a happy enthusiastic life. However, one day in June 2015, I kept feeling weak, drowsy, dull and stopped doing my ‘normal’ routines. The next day, I started vomiting and my vision became blurry. I thought it was because I hadn’t eaten and was very tired. I thought it was part of being a teen.
I was very wrong.
I kept ignoring these symptoms, hoping they’d just vanish like the wind, but they didn’t. By that time I’d traveled to Monterrey, Mexico, to spend time with my cousins, uncles, aunts and grandmas. The symptoms just got worse and my mother kept getting suspicious about my health. Another day passed and my mom decided to take me to a doctor nearby. The doctor thought it was a stomach virus and he gave me medicine and injections for my grandma to give me. My mom saw I was pale as snow. She, with the help of Grans and a cousin’s friend, who was a nephrologist (doctor of kidneys), checked to see what was going on with me. They found out my kidneys weren’t working properly and did the best they could to stabilize me. When I was stabilized (a week later), they said they couldn’t do any more (plus it was now late July and school would begin any moment) and mother, with Tia Neca’s help, decided to take me to Texas Children’s Hospital.
On Aug. 8, 2015, I went into the hospital ICU (intensive care unit) because I was still swollen and had some uremia symptoms (swollen, dizzy, blurry vision, nausea, pale). I stayed in the ICU for a month and seven days. Eventually, life got better. I got hemodialysis (HD) with my HD catheter every three days and went to school and did my best to catch up with everyone (I was a very slow runner, I use to be the second fastest). The doctors discussed me getting a AV fistula or a peritoneal dialysis catheter. I didn’t choose the fistula because getting poked all the time made me upset. Even though it was fun coming here to get HD, I loved to go to school and I knew that if I didn’t do anything in this one broken life I have, it will go to waste. Home peritoneal dialysis has worked well for me and I know there is still hope for kids, as well as adults, who are fighting against their fears, diseases, disasters and tragedies.
One day in the hemodialysis unit, with the inspiration of my friends, family and those who were there for me, I drew this picture, Bad and Healthy Kidneys. I first drew the unhealthy, dismantled, dull kidney to represent the problem being discovered and taken care of slowly. Then, I drew the healthy kidney to represent the other in the future (because that kidney, despite all it’s been through, has and WILL NEVER give up), because that kidney was hopeful.
And there is still hope for everyone else, you just have to believe and make it through.
Felixa DeLeón Benavides of Houston, Texas, originally wrote this post for the Texas Children’s Blog published by Texas Children’s Hospital. Felixa is a 15-year-old dialysis patient whose drawing, “Healthy Kidney, Infected Kidney” appears in the 2017 American Kidney Fund calendar as the image for June.
We are currently accepting artwork by children (up to age 16) living with kidney disease for consideration for our 2018 calendar. More information about the Calendar Kids Art Contest, along with an entry form, may be found on our website.