Kidney disease will be my source of strength

Rev Fr. Okoloagu Nathaniel, a 58-year old Catholic priest working in the Diocese of Awgu, Enugu State, Southeast, Nigeria has been diagnosed with kidney failure. He talks about receiving dialysis treatment and the difficulties it can cause when faced with financial constraints.

I was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2009. I learned that both of my kidneys were affected. Since then, I managed the situation until January 2018, when I found out that both of my kidneys had completely shut down. I started my dialysis the same month but was not regular due to financial constraints. I went on dialysis whenever I had money. Later, I was dialyzed three times a week and sometimes twice a week. During this period of treatment, I was put on a diet and had my protein intake in my meals reduced.

I live in rural Nigeria, so I changed the hospital where I received treatment to the new place where I receive dialysis treatment because the former had no dialysis unit. I have to travel 60km or more on bad roads to come to the city to access dialysis treatment. The major problem has been how to finance my dialysis treatment and other injections I receive to help me make blood because one has to pay out of pocket for treatment, including dialysis. To be able to manage, one requires 12 hours per week of dialysis, but due to financial constraints, I go only twice a week.

The best advice I can give to people with kidney disease or any other disease is to accept the problem or disease and learn to live with it as best they can.
There are different types of illnesses that people are fighting around the world; if it is not a kidney problem, it may be another disease. The world is not a bed of roses, and you have to accept everything that comes along.

The way to deal with it is to be self-supporting, thinking that this disease will not end my life but will be a source of strength to move forward in life.

However, no matter how one tries, one still needs help from others, especially caregivers, who encourage, support, and provide basic needs. Since help from others may not be there at all times, self-dependence is encouraged. I still try to carry out my priestly duties, despite the challenges, and I do many other things myself.

Indeed, the first time I was told that I had this problem, my life was torn apart. But after pondering on the word of God and guided by my faith, I decided to hand everything to God, and I accepted my condition as the will of God.

As a priest, I encourage and preach to people in difficulty to accept everything that happens to them as God’s will and to look to God for consolation. I have tried to identify myself with the sufferings of Christ on the cross and the fact that there are many ills in the world. There are things we can change and things we can do nothing about except through faith. That is what keeps me going.

Sometimes, I hear from people suggesting a transplant, and when you hear of stories of those who have undergone a transplant, you imagine which is preferable. In all cases, money is involved.

Apart from modern medicine, I have also tried other supplements in a bid to cope with the situation. Despite the claims of the companies selling the supplements, my health problem remained. Having spent so much money on supplements, I decided I was not going to continue. I stopped all kinds of supplements and focused on dialysis and modern medicines.

Attitude to life: What is life? Life is full of mysteries. One can always expect anything in life. Some people are born with physical defects some develop it as they grow while others have it as they are coming to the end of their stay on earth. When you look and consider all these, you will see God’s hand in creation. Nothing happens without Him willing it. If God allows anything to happen, He has a purpose, and that purpose is for our good. He can do all things at all times, but his will must prevail at all times.