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Hidden Disease Progression



I was doing our preseason physical for college basketball. They said we had to complete these physicals first, which is, I mean you’re an 18-year-old kid. Those things are pretty easy to pass, or at least so I thought. I got to the most simple test, which was the blood pressure test. And the lady takes my blood pressure, and she has this look on her face almost of confusion. She said it looks like your blood pressure is 185/128. And I looked at her and I was like, okay, is that bad, because I had no idea. And she said that’s awful. So, I go home, I do blood work, and a couple days later I get a call and the doctor says, hey, we are going to send you to a nephrologist. And so, I was in this room waiting for a nephrologist, and he came in and he immediately just got down to business. He came in, he shook my hand, and he said, all right, we need to have a talk. And I want to let you know that you have less than 50% kidney function and when it’s that progressed, that means it’s most likely chronic kidney disease. And he said, well, I'm going to need to have to – I'm going to have to talk to your coach because there is a chance that you’re not going to be able to play. At that moment, everything sort of shattered around me. And I remember I understood that part and it broke my heart because I was thinking since I was three years old picking up a basketball for the first time, I'd come all this way and I was just two weeks away from achieving my dream and this doctor just told me, yeah, sorry, but you can’t play. And why? I had no idea. I felt fine.

After I was diagnosed, I remember the only real symptom that I had was my high blood pressure. And, unfortunately, that is one of the main symptoms you have at first when you’re diagnosed, because it is one of the leading causes of kidney disease. But, as most of us know, high blood pressure is very asymptomatic. Looking back, especially at the beginning of my disease, I do realize I had a few of those symptoms that were telltales that, you know, you have a disease, and I did not realize it at the point. One of those was gout. And the other, which is something that I never even put two thoughts into, was the fact I had very foamy urine. I thought that was just normal. When you have foamy urine, that means you have a protein buildup that’s coming out with your urine where there shouldn’t be.

If I could go back to the day that I was diagnosed, I would’ve changed my mindset, because I believe that your mindset can affect everything that you do, especially in regards to how you digest information that’s not so good when you’re diagnosed with a disease. I think it leads to how your mentality ends up being and how you want to handle it and ultimately the progression of the disease and how you can help in that. I wish I would have taken it more seriously. And by taking it more seriously, I mean I would’ve really educated myself on the disease so I understood. I would’ve made sure I ate what I was supposed to. I would’ve made sure I drank enough water. And I would’ve made sure I took care of my mental health with it better. There were sometimes where I wish I could’ve been more open about my disease. I do feel if I had had the opportunity to talk to anybody at the beginning especially, perhaps I could’ve slowed the progression down because I would’ve understood better. And that’s part of why I do what I do today, to say, hey, look. I'm not here to scare you. But, yes, what you have is serious. Now let’s get serious about how we’re going to help you. And I kind of wish I would’ve had something like that to remind me as I was going through this in my late teens/early 20s.

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