Brenda Bahnman was in her mid-20s when she found out she was one of the one in 10 Canadians with kidney disease.
During an unrelated ultrasound, the technician happened to notice that something was wrong with her kidneys. She soon found out she had a hereditary disease called polycystic kidney disease, though she was the first and only person in her family to be diagnosed. About 14 years later, Brenda started hemodialysis.
A home hemodialysis machine
During hemodialysis, a machine removes wastes and fluids from your body – doing the job that kidneys are normally able to do. Brenda used to have to drive 45 minutes each way to receive dialysis treatment in Saskatoon three days a week, but now feels very fortunate to do it at home. Five nights a week, she hooks herself up to her dialysis machine so it runs overnight while she sleeps.
Because Brenda had no symptoms that suggested she had the disease prior to that ultrasound, she recommends that everyone see their family doctor regularly, even if they feel healthy.
There are many causes of kidney disease, some of which are preventable. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two biggest causes worldwide. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity, age, ethnicity, family history, and blood vessel disease.
For those at risk or who have kidney disease, Brenda recommends learning as much as you can about the condition and your treatment.
“Asking questions is the best way to learn about your health and how to manage your disease,” she says.
There is a need for early disease detection, prevention, and kidney care for all individuals.
Ways to keep your kidneys healthy include staying active, being tobacco free, eating a balanced diet, watching your salt intake, and being careful with drugs and alcohol.