Patrick Gee’s Kidney Disease Journey
How was your health prior to your diagnosis?
My health was fair. I was diagnosed with type II diabetes and hypertension.
Were/are you pro-active about your health?
I was active before my diagnosis. Now, I am even more proactive about my health because I have been better equipped with the necessary educational resources and consultations to manage my health better.
How did you feel when you were diagnosed with kidney disease?
I felt horrible and betrayed. My endocrinologist never told me that diabetes was the leading cause of kidney disease and hypertension was a close second. My endocrinologist diagnosed me at stage 3B in April 2013. By December of the same year, I was on dialysis.
Looking back, what do you wish you had known about kidney disease prior to your diagnosis?
I wish I’d known that diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease and hypertension is a close second. I also wish I’d known that, in some forms, kidney disease is an inherited and rare disease.
What were/are your most bothersome symptoms and how did they impact your life?
Fatigue, itching, pain, bloating, and trembling. I have had to make the necessary accommodations to live with the side effects of my medications.
What has your path through the healthcare system been like? Have you experienced inequity?
Yes, I have. I received inadequate health literacy/counsel on diabetes, and a lack of educational health resources on diabetes and hypertension from my providers. I have been on the receiving end of racial and social microaggressions such as “You don’t look as sick as all of my other Black patients,” and “You were doing so good on dialysis, why did you have to get a transplant?”
One of the most humiliating feelings that I ever had was when I had an appointment with a cardiologist. I was prepping for an EKG and the nurse asked me to remove my undershirt. When I did, she yelled so loudly that a group of staff ran into the room. When I asked why she was screaming, she stated that she was startled by “that thing.” “That thing” was my peritoneal dialysis (PD) catheter. She had never seen one before. I walked out of the appointment in humiliation and shame without being visited by the cardiologist.
So, to answer the first part of the question, my path through the healthcare system has been extremely interesting, and not in a good way.
How has your diagnosis impacted your family?
It is just another stressor to be concerned with.
Knowing that Black Americans are 7 times more likely to develop kidney disease, what would you like to say to your friends, family, and community?
Take care of your kidneys, or they will not take care of you.
Why do you share your story? What do you hope people reading your story will gain from your experiences?
I do not want any human being to endure what I have suffered from in my kidney journey. I share my story so that new patients can learn how to avoid certain pitfalls and disparities that may challenge their progress to better health.
Despite all the challenges that I have faced, I am a walking miracle. I should not be alive right now to share my testimony. My kidney journey has launched my most extraordinary ministry, dealing with providing hope to the hopeless living with kidney disease. Kidney disease is nothing to be ashamed of, nothing that defines us, and nothing that cannot be managed. Kidney disease can be your greatest launching pad to elevate your voice for others and yourself.