Woman stays positive ... despite battling kidney failure for nearly 20 years
After 19 years of battling renal failure, Angela Nichols says she is still keeping a smile on her face.
Nichols says when she was first diagnosed with kidney failure in 2003 she had no clue what it was.
"So for me it did not mean anything because even when they told me I was going to do dialysis, I said 'Dialysis, what is this dialysis?' But when I realised that it was something I was going to be on for life I was taken aback. My world crumbled," she said. Since then, the once lively Nichols is now a shell of her former self.
"You could call me an energy bunny, full of energy. One of the ways that kidney failure affects your life is I'm not able to go to work as I would want to because two times out of the week you're not able to do anything because those two days are dedicated to doing dialysis," she said. Dialysis mimics the functions of a healthy kidney, removing excess water, solutes and toxins from the blood. She is very frank about her situation.
"Kidney disease is one of those diseases that it is going kill you. And if it doesn't kill you, something else that it caused on you is going to take your life. It is going to affect your heart, it is going to affect your liver, it is going to affect your blood pressure, it is going to affect the different organs in your body. For me one of the things that it has affected is my heart and presently as a result of the kidney disease, I developed coronary heart disease which almost took my life, it's a miracle why I'm still here," she said.
Nichols, a primary school teacher, noted that kidney disease has even hampered her diet as the things she loves, like ackee, guava, and Irish potatoes are now off the menu. She is now restricted to eating in rigorous moderation, so as not to overload her extremely weak kidneys. Eating restricted foods while dealing with kidney failure can cause a build-up of fluid in the kidneys or lead to high potassium which can cause heart attacks or even death.
The dialysis and other treatment is also costly, and Nichols admits that her thoughts at time took dark turns. But she says that she is holding on to God and her supportive husband.
"The truth is if you don't have support and you don't have willpower, you will take your life. You have to have faith," she said. "I have a very good supportive husband and I thank God for him. He is in my corner, he is there for me. So there are even times when I probably want to eat the things that I'm not supposed to eat and he'll be there to ensure that I don't eat it. Every move I have to make he is in it with me. I call him Rocky, my rock," she said.
Despite still undergoing treatment, Nichols says she hopes her story can inspire someone else to keep holding on.
"During all this time living with this disease, I want to offer hope to persons who probably feel hopeless. And one of the main things that I want is for people, Jamaica, the world to be aware of renal disease. I know that it is a disease that is real and it is a disease that robs you of everything," she said.