A healthy mind for healthy kidneys

Tabitha Green’s story with kidney disease began when she was just a child. She shares how she was forced early on to manage strenuous treatments to maintain a healthy life and why, now, she actively advocates for more kidney health education online. 

My name is Tabitha, 45 years old and a country girl at heart! My hobbies/interests are interior decorating, cooking, singing karaoke (even though I can’t carry a tune), and reading a good book. My personality is laid-back, an overthinker, not so much shy, but socially selective, very spiritual, kindhearted, and somewhat emotional. I am an introvert but sometimes, depending on who I am with, I can be extroverted. Aside from my kidney disease, I am currently in school (online) to get my psychology degree, and I have just written a book (which is being edited).

When I was about nine and a half years old, I was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Even though I was nine and a half, I looked like I was five. I remember getting off the school bus, being a little nervous because I had peed myself, it was something that happened a lot. From then on, it was like I had no time to be a kid. I endured the needles, blood tests, procedures, etc. Back and forth to the hospital was all I knew; playing and being at home and “normal” was limited.

When I started high school, I was exhausted, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I dropped out of school because I could not handle everything that came with having kidney disease. 

My mother told me I was born with kidney disease. However, when you are a baby, it is not so easy to say, “This baby has kidney disease and will need surgery.” It was my size (or lack thereof) that put the idea in the doctor’s head and brought attention to what would be the beginning of this kidney disease journey. 

Being that there is not “yet” a cure for kidney disease, I had to endure dialysis treatment, which I hated, but as time went by, I began to realize that this treatment is exhausting, scary at times, and time-consuming, but it is also keeping me alive, so I am thankful to have been on it.

Taking loads of medication every day is like my breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So, as far as my connection to kidney health and disease, this is it. I’ve learned down the years that a healthy kidney means having a healthy mind, exercising, eating the right kind of food, regular doctor checkups, and being surrounded by positive individuals.

Not having much education on kidney disease at first, I had to learn and research as much as I could about this disease (about kidneys themselves, what they do, how they work, and the ways they affect the body). I found support in family members, church, but mainly my faith in God. I have made it known on social media about kidney awareness. I perceive that doing more is necessary as most do not understand that kidney disease is a silent disease; it comes without any notice. Our kidneys are a gift. When/if we lose them, it affects other organs; it decreases their function, and huge decisions are needed in the process of treatments. You will have to encounter emotions that you never thought were even there. But know that you can live a healthy life; just make that decision to be healthy if and/or before your kidney deteriorates.