Kidney Disease Patient Credits His Turnaround to Care and Education

Author : Nicole Leatherman
Kelly White
Kelly White

Kelly White didn’t feel well and tired easily. He started to experience swelling, so he went to the emergency room. After being released, he put it out of his mind and went about his daily activities.

Months passed and he continued to feel unwell, so he decided to visit his primary care doctor. Lab tests performed as part of an evaluation of hypertensive urgency and congestive heart failure revealed kidney disease, which prompted him to see a nephrologist.

The diagnosis left him confused, depressed and unsure about what he needed to do. But that has changed since he started his care journey with Strive Health.

White, 44, says he’s learned to respond to the signals his body sends. He eats healthier, walks for exercise and sleeps eight hours a night. He lost 10 pounds, started dialysis and is taking steps toward an eventual kidney transplant.

He credits his care team, the Strive Health Kidney Heroes™ – a nurse practitioner, registered dietitian, nurse care manager and licensed clinical social worker – for helping him receive emotional support and education about self-care, different dialysis modalities, dietary changes and transplant.

“Your body tells you when something is not right. I didn’t always listen in the past, but now I listen, and I encourage everyone else to do the same,” says White, who, in addition to high blood pressure and congestive heart failure, also has diabetes — all of which are conditions that increase the risk of kidney disease.

Strive Health Provided Critical Care and Education

Shadara King, MSN, RN, AGNP-C, is the nurse practitioner who spearheads the team working with White and coordinating care with his nephrologist. She says that his story demonstrates how a person can bend the course of kidney disease with the proper support and a willingness to make lifestyle changes.

“Kelly has such a positive attitude and has learned how good self-care can make all the difference for someone with kidney disease,” King says. “He is committed to doing all he can to stay healthy and achieve a kidney transplant.”

White says his care team at Strive Health helped him face his condition with determination and hope.

At the time of diagnosis, “I didn’t understand that things could continue to get worse,” he says. “It wasn’t until I met with Strive Health in July 2021 that I fully understood that I had rapidly advancing chronic kidney disease. In November, I had my (dialysis) access placed, and I started dialysis shortly after.”

White, of Greensboro, N.C., undergoes dialysis three times a week at an outpatient center. He enjoys working as a full-time traffic control specialist, helping set up “safety zones” around areas where crews work on power lines.

King, his nurse practitioner at Strive, says that proactively preparing for dialysis, as White did, increases the chances for a longer, healthier life. People with stage 5 chronic kidney disease commonly progress rapidly, often too quickly to avoid “crashing onto dialysis” which is very traumatic. Studies show patients who “crash” into dialysis have poorer results and incur far higher costs for care.

Here for a Purpose and Inspiring Others

Two sisters check in on White to be sure he’s taking care of himself and eating right. He also draws strength from the sunny smiles of a grandniece, born prematurely and with her own health issues.

“She’s been through multiple surgeries, and she’s only 2 years old. Seeing her interact with life inspires me,” he says.

“If you’re diagnosed with kidney disease or another disease, it will alter your lifestyle, but it doesn’t mean it’s a death sentence,” says White, who looks forward to being able someday to resume his favorite hobby, fishing.

His advice to other kidney disease patients: “Put in the work and be open to making positive changes while keeping a positive outlook. Keep pushing through! You’re here for a purpose. Your story can inspire others.”

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