Today, I complete twenty years with kidney disease. Back in 1997, on this very day, I took those vaccines that triggered Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, the ultra-rare disease that damaged my kidneys. In a matter of twenty four hours, my life had changed completely. On that day of course, I had no clue about what was actually happening inside me. The initial symptoms were put down to side effects of the vaccines. Only when the symptoms did not abate after three more days, did we consult my family physician, Dr. Kirit Parekh who ordered some initial tests and discovered that my kidney function was affected. He then put me onto Dr. Girish Narayen, the nephrologist who treated me for a long, long time.
Update: here is a picture of me with him when I went to meet him on the twentieth anniversary of me meeting him back in 1997:
About ten years back, I started this blog and my first post was titled, “Ten years with kidney disease” and in it I had outlined the first ten years of my journey. There have been small ups and downs since then - some neurological issues, a cardiac problem (now resolved), arthritis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome etc.
On the professional front, of course, the biggest thing that has happened is NephroPlus which has come to change my identity from ‘the guy on dialysis’ to ‘the guy on dialysis who co-founded India’s largest dialysis company’. Not bad eh? Thanks Vikram and Sandeep for this!
For the last twenty years, I feel very grateful. The entire duration has been on dialysis since my transplant did not work. Not many on dialysis have had such a journey. My parents and family have been a massive source of strength and support. Without them I would never have made it so far. Then, Dr. Girish Narayen, the man who put me on daily nocturnal home hemodialysis. I can safely say that I am alive because of this modality. I can also never forget Jayaram Reddy, the Head of the dialysis centre in KIMS Hospital. If it wasn’t for Jayaram, his expertise and and his confidence in his abilities, I would not have begun home hemo.
Where do I go from here? I swim every day, I work full time. I don’t travel as much. I would like to do some more travel. I would like to do more things I genuinely enjoy. I realise the limits of my body but would like to make the most of the coming years.
When I look back at this journey, I see one recurring theme which can aptly be summarised by these immortal lines by Robert Frost:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.