Blog post

My kidney disease story

15-year-old Felixa DeLeón Benavides shares her experiences of living with kidney disease and dialysis.
a Healthy kidney versus infected kidney artwork next to a photo of Felixa Deleón Benavides

About 10 months ago, I was diagnosed with 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 had not 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 would just vanish like the wind, but they did not. By that time I had traveled to Monterrey, Mexico, to spend time with my cousins, uncles, aunts and grandmas. The symptoms 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 I had 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 my Grans and a cousin's friend, who was a nephrologist, checked to see what was going on with me. They found out my kidneys were not working properly and did the best they could to stabilize me. When I was stabilized (a week later), they said they could not 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 intensive care unit (ICU) 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 every three days and went to school and did my best to catch up with everyone (I was now a very slow runner; I used to be the second fastest). The doctors discussed me getting a AV fistula or a peritoneal dialysis catheter. I did not choose the fistula because getting poked all the time made me upset. I loved to go to school and I knew that if I did not do anything in this one broken life I have, it would 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 has been through, has not 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

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 on dialysis whose drawing, “Healthy Kidney, Infected Kidney” appears in the 2017 American Kidney Fund calendar as the image for June.