Kidney Failure: Symptoms & Stereotypes


Hey my name is Barry Spence. I’m from Nisichawaysihk Cree Nation. Nelson House it’s also called. I’m 41 years old. I’m diabetic. I was diagnosed diabetic since I was 21. Complications from diabetes is my kidney failure. When the kidneys are not working properly,
and they start to fail… it’s the kidneys job to get rid of waste products that build
up in our body from the foods we eat, the activity, muscle breakdown. As well as the extra fluids that we drink. And when our kidneys aren’t working these
toxins build up in our bodies and that’s what contributes to all these symptoms that one
gets. So uremia, or uremic symptoms, basically start…
can start at any time but they get more severe as the kidney disease progresses. And the closer to you get to stage five. And the uremic symptoms, the uremia, can
affect the whole body really. I was heading home from Winnipeg, from my
appointments here at the clinic, and I jumped the bus there at 11 at night. Before during the bus they would check our
bags, I was carrying this – my medicine bag and my pill bag. And they searched those and patted me down
and metal-detected me. I entered the bus. I was using the washroom frequently on the
bus so I was getting up to go use the washroom, go vomit. I was feeling very ill. We got to to Grand Rapids. I got off the bus to go use the regular washroom
inside the gas bar. When I finished using the bathroom, the bus
driver stops me at the doorway He said no you are not coming in on my bus. And I thought he was kidding. I said for what? What did I do? And the bus driver looked at me and he says
‘you’re drunk’ – I don’t want you on my bus. You’re not allowed on my bus again. One of the common symptoms is nausea and
vomiting. You’re sick to your stomach. You don’t feel well. You get a fair bit of nausea, vomiting daily. You can get very very weak and tired. Fatigue is very common. You’re anemic. Because the kidneys do produce a hormone which
stimulates your bone marrow to make blood, so you can be quite anemic. And you’re tired. The fatigue is pretty overwhelming at times. I tried to explain to the bus driver that
I am not drunk. I’m not intoxicated. I’m not bothering anybody. I was nauseous, you know dizzy and you know
kind of staggering. It looked like I was staggering. I was so weak. And he said to me, I’ll call the cops on you. The bus driver didn’t say – you know – come up to me and ask me are you okay. He never asked me any of those questions. He just assumed right away – he’s a drunk
and he’s native. That’s how I felt. He didn’t think of my health or my well-being. The cops showed up and the cops said to the bus driver, this guy is not intoxicated. He’s not drunk. He doesn’t smell like booze. He doesn’t have booze on him. Why are you kicking him off the bus? All this commotion by the door, by the gas
bar. And they said, we don’t want him around here
either. We don’t want him on our property. So the cops escorted me off the gas bar property
and says, you are not allowed here. And then I said well where am I supposed to
go, this is the bus stop – it’s the only place that’s open. Where am I supposed to go? And he said your best bet is to start walking. I was devastated. Like scared. I was about to give up. Like this is it. It was hard. I was already sick. I wasn’t feeling well already. I was on the brink of collapsing. Some people will present urgently. Just they come in and boom they are stage
five they need dialysis right away. It could be that they just have never been
followed in a clinic. Sometimes the symptoms just progress very
quickly depending on the cause of their illness. Others just wait too long. It’s hard to start dialysis – it’s a hard
thing to accept. You always try and avoid the urgent start
where they have to, you know, instantly go on without any warning. We like to follow them in clinic right from
stage one on if we can. Because then we can help slow the process
or even reverse it in the early stages – maybe we can by following them more often. We encourage GPs and doctors in the community
to refer their patients to our clinic early so that we catch these people a lot earlier
in their progression through the kidney disease cycle. And they don’t have to reach stage five and
get it all of a sudden without any warning. They have time to decide what they want or
what kind of modality of choice they want when it comes to dialysis. Get some education behind them. And can recognize some of these symptoms before
they get severe. We don’t want them to get severe because it’s
hard to learn anything once they get sick, they need to start on dialysis and it’s better
to start before they get to that point.

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