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Advice to My Younger Self: Pay Attention to ADPKD

“It’s not about today or tomorrow.  It’s about not properly getting the medical attention that you need when you’re young.”

David Birkley


If I could go back and talk to myself when I was first diagnosed, I would say, “David, watch your blood pressure, eat right, watch your sodium intake, go to the doctor on a regular basis, have your blood pressure checked daily.  If something’s wrong, go to the doctor or go to a hospital.”

I let high blood pressure go untreated. I’m in my 20’s, and you’re going and working every day, you don’t feel the effects of blood pressure and a headache or nausea or things like that.  You just keep plugging on, and I did, but I should have paid more attention to it.

I knew I had PKD, which was diagnosed in 2000, but didn’t think it was going to be any problem at all in my later life. I didn’t pay attention to it because it was not bothering me on a daily basis. But obviously it became an issue, potentially a fatal issue, and that led to my heart issues that were solved about six years ago after emergency surgery. 

I had no signs that my aorta was going to let go.  One day I had a sharp pain in my neck, and within about an hour I was at the hospital. One of my neighbors rushed me over.  Saw my skin color wasn’t right.  Rushed me to the hospital.

About three hours later, they life-flighted me over to another hospital, and they performed the emergency aortic dissection.  I was in ICU for about two weeks and came out of the hospital about four weeks later, and it took about two years to recover from that.

I have now over the last six years paid more attention to PKD because of what it does to you and definitely the blood pressure part of it.

It’s not about today or tomorrow.  It’s about not properly getting the medical attention that you need when you’re young.

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