Linet’s Kidney

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At the end of the day we are all but undeserving fools. Undeserving of the innocent love of our children. The loyalty of our spouses. Undeserving of the bountiful favours of the universe. Undeserving of His Will, of His Grace. Of the warmth of sunrise on our skin. Of our hearts that pump red and our kidneys that filter death from us. Yet we are still here, not necessarily because we are special, but because it isn’t time. We somehow wake up daily on a bed of ingratitude. We toil. We forget. We pray at the altar of the gods of our selfishness. We constantly forget our smallness because we are already sold on the fleeting folly of our invincibility. 

Our bodies will betray us. Eventually. It’s inevitable. Our hearts will break. Or stop altogether. Our souls will blister with jealousy and fracture with anger. Our bodies are dolls. They will break if they are meant to break. Or they will slowly grind to a halt; one organ at a time. There’s no telling when. 

I’m thinking these thoughts as I sit on a chair by a bed at Nairobi Hospital’s Renal Unit ward. It’s the last days of July, the dying days of winter. It’s just a little after 6am in the morning and outside, the weather is uncertain, dithering over whether to continue being as cold-hearted as it has been the past month or to thaw its temperament and let us shrug off our jackets and scarfs and sweaters. 

The man lying on the bed is undergoing dialysis. The air in here is thinned by the sound of a machine plugged into bodies. The dialysis machine—an ugly contraption—chugs and hums as knobs rotate and blood streams through tubes that run from his chest and into this machine that cleanses it, filters it and sends it back to his body. There is a  mysterious plastic jerrican at the foot of the machine that begs a question I’m unwilling to ask. 

The man has no kidneys—at least none that belong to him. He has one kidney which belongs to his sister. It was a good kidney for a while until it wasn’t. He’s 45 years old with a pale face, now shaped by persistent suffering; his eyes are the colour of diluted hibiscus and slightly bulging, like someone who has seen many unbearable things. He’s in pain but not the kind of pain you get when you stub your little toe on a door or the pain of losing a loved one. It’s a different genre of pain. When I ask him to rate it on a sliding scale of one to ten he says, “I don’t want to say ten because then it’d mean I’m dead so I will settle for a nine.” He’s been in pain for many years, all manner of pain, psychological and physical but now the kind of pain he is in is pain in his backbone (we will come around to this later), which he bears with a wrought smile, with labour and with silent duty. 

I’m here because he wrote me an email a couple of months ago saying he was chronically ill and he had a son and that he didn’t have enough time left and he wanted his son to know him and what he has gone through in the past 20 years battling Chronic Kidney Disease. 

In fact, now is a good time to stop referring to him as ‘a man” or ‘the man’. His name is Josh but you would know that even if he didn’t tell you because of the chipper nurses and hospital staff who stop by mid-stride at the entrance of his curtained room to quip, ”Sasa Josh?” “Josh, how are you today?” “Josh, is everything okay?” They have known him for long now because he comes for dialysis every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 

“Three-quarters of the guys I started coming with for dialysis are all dead.” He tells me. 

“The life expectancy of patients suffering from this disease is five years. I’ve had liver problems since I was 20 years old.”

It started with constant and intense itching on his back. An itch so bad he would remove his shirt and scratch it against the rough surface of the mud house he grew up in in the village. He grew up in an area between Kendu Bay and Homa Bay. I know the place, seeing as I’m from Kendu Bay. The area he speaks of is a scattering of stumpy green hills, cows grazing afoot, the sparkling lake in the near horizon. I don’t want to say it’s picturesque but it’s certainly very beautiful to look at. His father was a straight-backed army officer in Nairobi married to three wives. He’s the third last born in a family of eight. His nuclear family is close to 300 in total, he tells me; siblings and their children. “You guys can’t fit in a Whatsapp Group,” I tell him even though I was supposed to have just thought it, not said it. But he chuckles. Growing up he wanted what you wanted; get an education, get a good job, lead a better life. And he got that. 

After the itchiness came the random intense migraines that would leave him weak. In 1997 a doctor said, “I’m worried about your blood pressure,” while thoughtfully tapping a biro pen on a notepad. At 20 years old he was too young to have high blood pressure. It was also bizarre, given that he was very active in sports and that he didn’t have three wives. In 2001 he got very green around his gills and was put on medication. In 2005 his kidney function dropped alarmingly. His doctor was suddenly sitting up in his chair. That’s how you know that shit is serious, when your doctor no longer slouches. In 2006 he saw a girl he liked at a conference. One part feisty, two parts beautiful. Just his kettle of fish. They got married. In 2008 the doctors made a decision that his kidney had to go after finding it riddled with cysts. It resembled the surface of the moon. So they chucked the useless kidney and binned it. 

He was working in Dar then, a cushy job with an American non-profit. Not long after, he went back into the hospital because he was feeling horrible. Blood was drawn from his forearm and tests were run.  Now there is something called Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate, or eGFR. It’s how your kidney function is tested and any normal person will probably score 60 and above. If your eGFR drops below 15, you may need dialysis or have a kidney transplant. Turned out his eGFR was 5%. His sister offered her kidney. Tests were run and they were a 90% match. They did a harambee that collected 1.8m in a hat and soon they flew to Gujarati, India, in the belly of a big snubbed-nosed bird with his sister and another relative as a caretaker. They arrived at dawn.

The dialysis machine starts beeping furiously and he looks up at the monitor then reaches out and presses the little red button that summons a nurse. 

A nurse shows up immediately. I was there for over two hours and he must have pressed that red button three times and I was amazed at how fast they got there. It’s almost like they were standing behind the curtain waiting. The red button reminded me of the old fable of the boy who cried wolf. If I was hospitalised I suspect I’d be that boy, the kind of annoying patient who would abuse that red button, because at night I’d be pressing it constantly and if the nurse showed up and asked, “Yes, Mr Jackson, what’s wrong now?” I’d say, “The night is long and dark and deep loneliness drowns my heart,” and she’d sigh and, hands akimbo, say, “Please stop pressing the button, this is the third time. You only press the button in case of an emergency!” I’d whine, “but loneliness is an emergency, nurse Faith” (aren’t most nurses called Faith?) And nurse Faith would say evenly. “Look, I have other very sick patients who need my attention, if you press it for shits and giggles you might be taking me away from someone who really needs me.” Me mournfully, “But I need you, nurse Faith.” Her, admonishingly “I meant medically.” To which I’d say, “here, touch my heart and tell me if that’s not medical. Look, just sit with me for a minute will you? Just one minute.” Then she’d say firmly but with a small smile, “I can’t. I’m working. Don’t press that red button unless you have to, okay? Now try and get some sleep Mr Jackson.” Then she’d turn on her heel to leave and I’d call out, “don’t forsake my lonely heart, nurse Faith.” I’d hear the patient in the next bed laughing softly and nurse Faith chuckling and shuffling down the hall, her Crocs-clad feet squeaking on the clean hospital tiles.  

Anyway, they were in India. They cut his sister open and removed her kidney and then they cut him open and transplanted her kidney in him. They then sewed him up and he started taking immunosuppressant drugs because sometimes your body will start stomping petulantly, ‘I don’t want! I don’t want!” when you introduce a foreign organ in it. He describes the doctors in India as scrupulous and the facility highly sanitised and efficient. Gujarati, he remembers as being very dry.

“How does it feel to have someone’s kidney in you?” I ask him. He laughs and pauses in thought. “It feels normal, I guess,” he says. “But the body knows there is something new in you, like an intruder.” 

It was good, then good turned into tough. The nausea, loss of appetite, he would swell up with oedema, his legs and arms and face taking on a cartoonish form. He was constantly sick; constantly lying down, holding onto things to catch his breath while he walked, feeling constantly under the weather. They got a baby at some point, a son, an heir. They gave him an Arabic name which means ‘the wise one.” He was overjoyed, of course. He looked like him, his son. He would bounce him on his knees. Watch him sleep in his cot like an angel. Stick a bottle in his mouth—a bottle of milk, that is. It was funny, that while his kidney constantly failed him, his heart swelled with the joy of seeing his son grow. In 2011 he lost his job; funding etc. The following year he got a nasty infection but he didn’t know it, at least not immediately. What he remembers about that morning was his wife bringing him a glass of water, him reaching out for it and then distinctly looking at the glass leaving his hand in what seemed like slow motion, following the trajectory of the glass of water as it headed for the floor and then the moment it touched the floor and shattered, and then he passed out. 

He woke up in Mater Hospital. 

“How I discovered I had been in a coma is I remember my brother coming to visit me at the hospital and me telling him how I couldn’t wait to watch the Champions League and him saying, ‘uhm that champions league already ended’ and me saying, how now, unless it happened last night while I slept and my brother said, ‘you have been in a coma Josh’…I asked for how long and he said, “three months.”

“What does being in a coma feel like?” I ask him. “What can you remember?”

Here is how he described a coma. “A coma is not like sleep,” he tells me, “it’s weird because I remember some things vividly during my coma. I was working for the FBI, investigating a crime. I remember a beautiful tarmac road running through a barren landscape. I remember being abducted and being thrown into this massive warehouse where these guys were siphoning people’s blood.”

“Were you dressed in black suits and white shirts like the FBI in the movies?” I ask. 

“I don’t remember the colour or even what I was wearing but the white light people apparently see before they die? I saw it. And I heard a voice asking me why I was fighting so hard, why couldn’t I just give up? Then another voice told me, don’t worry, you will be okay.”

“Were they deep voices, like the one that spoke to Abraham drawing his attention to the lamb in the bush?” He chuckled thinking I was yanking his chain. “ I’m told that tears used to come out of my eyes a lot,” he continues. “That I’d be crying.”

“Can you hear voices when in a coma like we see in a movie where a relative holds the hand of someone in a coma and speaks to them.”

“No. I couldn’t but I could sense energy. You can feel the energy of a loved one. I’m told that one time some relatives of mine who aren’t good people came to visit and I started convulsing violently, so they had to leave. That’s the bad energy I was feeling. But when I finally came to, it took two more weeks of coming in and out slowly and in that time I could hear voices and see blurry images before I went under again. I also remember hearing Catholic hymns and I thought I might have made it to heaven.” 

When he came he couldn’t remember anything or recognise anyone. Not his wife. Not his brothers. Not the life he’d had. He had a baby’s mind. So his relatives had to start gently introducing themselves and giving background. Someone would come and say, “Hi Josh, I’m Paul. We worked together.” Then he’d ask, “Oh, right. Where did we work?” Then the person would say,  at such and such a place. Then he’d nod but not register anything. The guy would say, “last time I saw you you were with Linda* in town?” Linda? He’d ask. The guy would say, “Linda is your wife.” Then he’d go, “Oh,” and wonder about Linda and if she was nice. One day his son was brought to him in hospital. He was only one year old. “I looked at him and I needed not be told that he was my son. He looked like me. I was drawn to him like I wasn’t drawn to anyone else who had come to see me.” He was given videos to watch. 

I will spare you the mundane details of learning how to sleep, how to walk, how to eat. The days spent in hydrotherapy and physiotherapy and speech therapy, the hours spent learning how to use his muscles. “Coming out of a coma is like being reborn.”

Times got really tough after that, with no job and a very expensive condition to medicate. He sold their family car, moved from Lavington to the outskirts and basically started living on a shoestring budget. When I say things got pretty tough, I’m putting it very lightly. In 2017 his condition deteriorated sharply and it has been that way since. 

In simple terms, he explains to me that when your kidney fails to do its job, which is to filter waste and excess fluids from your body, taka taka builds up in your body; fluids and electrolytes. You swell up and you’re in such unimaginable pain. “I can’t just eat anything because it can kill me.” he tells me. “For example I can’t eat a banana because it has potassium.” Neither can he eat an orange, apricots, spinach, mushrooms, potatoes, peas, cucumbers, peas. He can’t eat junk food. He can’t drink more than 300mls of water in a day. He can’t walk for five meters without feeling dizzy and weak. He is in constant pain. His joints are in such excruciating pain, because of the accumulation of amyloid deposits (any doctors in the house?) there which the kidneys can’t expel. It feels like acid. His spine is wearing off because of the same. He hasn’t peed in many years. 

“Wait, you haven’t peed in many years?!”

“Yes, when I go for a long call, the body knows the sequence but since there is no pee it rewards me with such pain.” He says. He can’t travel. He can’t do the things he loves, biking, the outdoors, or playing taekwondo, which he did in his younger years. “I’m constantly tired or in pain or both. I hate to stay at home alone, so I go to the office where I consult once in a while just to avoid sitting alone with my thoughts, which can be dark, suicidal thoughts.” 

He once tried to commit suicide; by overdosing. He was in too much pain, in deep darkness, no hope in sight. It seemed hopeless. At the final moment, when his body was shutting down and he was crumbling, he called his friend Peter to come save him.

“Why didn’t you want to die?” I ask. 

“Because of my son,” he says. “The only reason I have been fighting to stay alive is for my son. Otherwise what’s here for me to fight for?” He says his mother died of the same kidney condition when she was 45. So did his big brother. It’s hereditary, he tells me. I’m afraid to ask if he fears for his son but I need not ask because he says, “my son has started itching on his back like I did when I was a small boy,” he says. Oh shit, I mutter in my mask. “Of course it can be cured if detected early. But I fear for him, I worry about him. He worries about me, he assures me that I will be okay and it pains me that he has to be the one to reassure me.”

A nurse walks in and they have a brief friendly conversation. She checks the imposing machine and I hear her say the word ‘heparin” a blood anticoagulant, which comes with its own grief because it reminds me of the days my mother would be so sick and we would source for the expensive drug downtown. When she’s gone, I ask him if he’s tired from talking because he looks bushed. He says it’s fine and lies there, being strong. 

“Why did your wife leave?” I ask him, realising I’m asking the wrong person this question.  But he had mentioned it in his email and it seemed pivotal to his story. He suddenly becomes even more vulnerable. It’s not a question you want to ask a fellow man because it unclothes him, it leaves him naked. He grins as if to say, oh, that little non-event? But his lips betray him, they tremble. And he looks away. It’s the usual story of marriage; he got sicker. He got moodier, angrier, and sadder. He lost his job, his status, his dignity. They started fighting. Hurtful words. They stopped talking. The only bridge that connected them was their son. Chronic illness like his changes your character, it’s not who you are. You are dealing with issues beyond just your sickness, your mind becomes sick with worry and sadness and pain and thoughts of death and what happens when you are gone. “We had a massive Zanzibar bed, and at night it felt like I was sleeping in Nairobi while she slept in Kisumu.” The chasm between them deepened and nothing could fill it. Their relationship had started rotting at the legs and one night it crumbled into dust. “The night she left, we had a fight about who was going to put the baby to bed,” he tells me. “She packed and left in her nightie, our son in hand.” 

“Are you bitter when you think about it?”

“What can you do?” He says. 

“Are you lonely?”

“Yes, I am. Of course I am. The one thing people with chronic illness need the most is social care.” You want to wake up in the middle of the night and the person sleeping next to you to wake up and ask “Are you okay?” You want to know someone is worried sick about you. That they’d drop everything to be with you. That they will be there when you are wheeled out of surgery. That they will ask doctors questions and have your best interest at heart. Josh has nobody. He lives alone. He eats alone. He sleeps alone. 

“Would you consider dating?”

“Of course, but who would take me like this?” He poses. “It’s not easy to meet someone in this condition.”

He says he misses simple things. Like eating any fruit he wants. He soaks his potatoes for days before he cooks them. He misses the beach and sunset. And nyama choma, a good barbeque, standing around a spit with friends, laughing at a joke. He misses travelling, which he enjoyed. Airports. “There is something about airports, holding all these people speaking different languages headed off in many different directions, but they are here with their bags, the air is different.” He tells me how one day he got lost in the narrow alleys of Lamu at dusk and he wandered through the alleyways, in darkness for three hours afraid that dawn would still find him looking for his hotel. He misses being able to bend and pick things up, to stand for over five minutes without feeling his bones collapsing. He misses taking the staircase, folding a fist. He hasn’t urinated since 2012.

Dialysis is super expensive. “I owe this (Nairobi) hospital a lot of money, but they still allow me dialysis. That’s compassion and sometimes when you are very sick it comes from a completely unexpected quarter.” He takes almost thirty tablets a day; lining them up before him like soldiers in a  passing parade. There is Esose, Diclofenac, Tramacet, Foseal, Meditrol, Ideos Calcium, Ciphrocet. He has taken potent pain killers that made him hallucinate and have dreams that he’s dying and he’s screaming and fighting death. He has taken weed and synthetic cocaine patches for his debilitating pain. He has gone to Mathare hospital to look for pain drugs. And these drugs change you, they have robbed him of himself, messed up his temperament, upended his personality. And he’s constantly sleepy. And tired. 

Very tired. 

He showed me a picture of himself when he was young, before this madness began. He’s sitting at a table, a plate of bread before him. He’s young and handsome, smiling the smile of the beautiful, a different smile from the one he wears now. He’s in a wife-beater. He has taut envious biceps. [“I’d bench press 70kgs”). He never drank alcohol or smoked cigarettes.  

He tells me to take care of my body. That we take our body functions for granted. “Cherish important things, when you are sick in bed, having money helps but having family is even better. Human compassion is a healer. There are rich folk I have seen here who you can tell have no strong family ties. Perhaps they spent years working for money, not working on relationships. Money is vanity. Being sick and lonely is the worst thing.”

“What dreams do you have now?”

“To get a transplant and spend more time with my son, travel with him.”

I left. And I thought about my kidney the whole time. How I drench it in whisky and feed it all the garbage and how it unwaveringly toils for me. Later that day, as I stood peeing in the loo, I watched the stream of my urine and I really thought of my kidneys, the silent unsung hero in my body and I said, “Thank you, God, for good health.” 

I have thought about him since I met him last week, and I hope one day his son reads all this and understands his father’s profound love for him and how he fought for him daily, through unbearable pain. And I hope he honours that love and sacrifice. 

***

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177 Comments
  1. “Cherish important things, when you are sick in bed, having money helps but having family is even better. Human compassion is a healer. There are rich folk I have seen here who you can tell have no strong family ties. Perhaps they spent years working for money, not working on relationships. Money is vanity. Being sick and lonely is the worst thing.”

    Josh, Ruoth obed kodi.

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  2. SO strange that as we speak right now my best friend is currently hospitalized something to do with ulcers and I hope he reads this and consoles himself with the fact that someone’s going through worse and they still strong..

    Get well Andrew. We need you back in good health soon. And your family needs you more.
    The simple functions we take for granted like eating a banana. And to Josh may the good Lord above give you healing in Jesus name!

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  3. “Why did your wife leave?”. That broke my heart. And made me cry. This is such a sad story and its someone’s reality. We really take things for granted. Thanks for sharing your story Josh.

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  4. I won’t judge the wife for leaving. My husband went into coma after a sinus infection spread to his brain and caused a series of convulsions. The antiseizure medication alone caused the behaviour changes described in this story. All this was after he was diagnosed with sudden onset hypertension during the routine check for a scheduled sinus surgery.

    Marriage after that kind of illness is an alternate universe. You feel like no one else has the same challenges. The side effects range from insomnia and confusion to ED. That’s not to mention the financial strain. My heart goes out to Josh. Lots of hugs, love and light.

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    1. This has scared me. I am supposed to do a Sinus surgery this year. I have been postponing it for the longest time due to fear.

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      1. I went for the sinuses surgery in 2018 and it was successfully. 3 years down the line and thankfully I’m okay.
        I hope this will encourage you, all the best!

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  5. Oh the things we take for granted..like peeing and being able to eat potatoes in all different forms…woi

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  6. I’ll just go ahead and cry kidogo. My heart breaks for him and his son. We never really sit and think about the gift that is health; Rolling out of bed, seeing family, having nonesense conversations with friends and nyama choma outings, eating mutura….mahn!
    I’m practicing gratitude today and every other day I remember.

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  7. Josh, I pray for your provision in every way. I pray for long a long and productive life for you and your son. May you find peace and comfort in this life. Pole sana.

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  8. Goodness, I really feel for him, may God shower him with sufficient grace, is there an mpesa number we can send something to him?

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  9. Thank you Father Lord for the good health & love in abundance. Lots of hugs & love to Josh. Don’t give up yet, your son knows it will be okay and yes it will.

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  10. To think that I survived Kidney failure just a year ago-without dialysis- is the GREATEST BLESSING! With an eGFR of 13ml, fluid consumption of only 400ml per day, strict and expensive diet(going through all this with my two weeks old baby who wholly depended on breast milk)…May the Lord who healed me and made me whole come through for you Josh. Im praying for you.

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  11. Whew!!! I am not crying..You are !! I hope Josh gets that transplant. I hope Josh gets to experience the life he constantly wishes to have. I hope Josh gets to travel and spend more time with his Son. I hope Josh heals. xoxo

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  12. Whew! This post has me feeling like I’ve been kidnapped and left in a field full of onions. Chopped onions.

    And this… this was profound “The one thing people with chronic illness need the most is social care.” You want to wake up in the middle of the night and the person sleeping next to you to wake up and ask “Are you okay?” You want to know someone is worried sick about you. That they’d drop everything to be with you. That they will be there when you are wheeled out of surgery. That they will ask doctors questions and have your best interest at heart”

    May he one day, fulfil the dream of travelling with his son. Watu wa maombi tuseme Amina *insert multiple praying emojis here*

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  13. Good health is the real wealth. I lost count of God’s blessings in my life when Joash confessed not being able to walk for at least 5m without getting dizzy. A million little miracles of good health everyday. I pray and hope Joash gets a transplant and spends more time with his son. His strength in the journey has been impeccable.

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  14. This got me teary , I could literally feel his pain. Take home message; human compassion is greater than money and gold!! I wish Josh the best

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  15. Thanking God for good health, praying for Josh , i hope he gets a new kidney to be able to live longer for his son , I lost my dad last year and I never wish that loss to anyone even my worst enemy

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  16. This story broke my heart. Yet at the same time it stirred a sense of gratitude in me. Thank you for sharing your story Josh! May God grant you strength and may His presence engulf you.

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  17. Reading this just a day after i lost my ‘To be Dad in-Law’, Awesome gentleman he was, He was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease( Kidney failure ) a few years ago, had a kidney transplant beginning last year, and since then he has been in & out of hospital, When we thought things were getting better, he lost the fight, SAD!

    I lost my Dad 17 years ago, thought I was soon going to have someone to call Dad, then this happened. It Breaks me!

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  18. Oh, dear! Reading this has brought tears to my eyes. It has reminded me how sometimes I take for granted simple things- not too simple afterall- like peeping! I sometimes forget God’s mercies, How He’s been gracious to me, my daughter, my family. I’m reminded that however how much money/wealth we accumulate, we are always one illness away from poverty: financially, emotionally, socially. Dear God, Thank you for good health.

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  19. This one came close to home, my father has DM/HTN/CKD and leaves alone, eats alone, sleeps alone. He was an abusive husband for decades so I don’t blame my maitu for leaving (only 2 years ago). He goes to clinics alone, eats unhealthy meals (I keep tabs on him but it’s hard because I’m far). I hope to one day TALK to him and maybe understand him more (maybe I should get him a Biko interview)
    (Side note I’m a doctor na sijui nurse anaitwa Faith )

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    1. I think he used Faith to represent a nurse whose name he preferred not to publish. Just a Little sense of humor. However perhaps if you visit Nairobi Hospital Dialysis unit you will meet a whole bunch of medical workers who know Josh and have been a part of his journey .

  20. May Josh remain strong for as long as his body can hold his soul. It is never easy to have a chronic illness…worse, chronic pain.
    Cheers to Linet (the sister, I assume) for adding some days to her brother.

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  21. I have exhausted all my muscles trying to hold my tears. But well, some things you just can’t hold in. Tears is one of those things. Especially when you are emotional. Tears are the oxygen of emotional peeps, like yours truly here. I really feel for him. Since 2012, no pee!! Ouch! Am trying to imagine the pain he is in, but my brain cannot stomach the imagination. It defeats me. The greatest pain I have experienced so far was undergoing a minor surgery to unzip my foreskin which had been trapped between a zipper and its rails. A day after the surgery, my weapon of mass procreation swelled at the tip and I could not pee. Not that the pee was not there, it just could not find a way out. I had to be taken back to the theater to have a hole poked at the swollen tip. That felt like hell, but what Biko has described… That’s hell!

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  22. I am going through a perfectly healthy pregnancy but i feel shitty all the time. Everything hurts and i am complaining ALOT and loudly to my social support. But my current discomfort seems like childs play compared to Josh’s pain . I pray for comfort for him and healing

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  23. Isn’t it sad that you get to read about your homeboy’s condition on social media. Josh such a cheerful and a laid back chap. Someone who loved the gym and kept a very strong bond with Peter.

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    1. Would you like to reconnect? talk to Biko. I believe Josh can do with all the social support he can get. STart with Nbi Hosp Renal section every Monday Wednesday or Friday. Basically do something. I would if I wasn’t a covid risk patient… and I don’t know him…

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      1. What a kind thought . Bless you for that suggestion. Even as we write and send positive vibes his way, let us follow it with action.

        Through Biko he has reached out. If you can do visit and hold his hands, talk to him, etc, on the days he goes for dialysis. It will mean a lot .I live at the coast, otherwise would make a point of visiting regularly.

        May he find healing and support..
        Can we raise funds to help with treatment and medication?

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  24. Reading this from a hospital’s parking lot, waiting for my husband to get treated then will go in for a covid test.
    This is such a timely piece, i have cried and prayed like never before.
    I pray for Joshua’s breakthrough, may Gods mercies follow him,and may he receive healing.
    Amen

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  25. My heart goes out to him. Hugs hugs hugs Josh.
    I partly relate to him. I also suffer from CKD. I went through 2 + years of daily peritoneal dialysis then had a transplant just 6 months ago. I relate to the feeling of uncertainty, the darkness, the changes in your temperament, the realisation that the kidneys are one of the most important organs in the body. They control everything. The worry that maybe your offspring will suffer from the same genetic problem like yourself, your mother, her siblings, your cousins. Wondering if to make the tough choice of being child free so that your offspring don’t suffer the same problem. The anger, the bitterness, the helplessness, envy of those with good health.
    But somehow we live. A day at a time. I’m proud of him for fighting this hard. I’m glad he has a reason to continue living and that he has dreams to travel with his son. Josh, you’ll hack this. A day at a time.
    I implore more people to be altruistic organ donors. Let’s help others to led an almost normal life. Organ, tissue and blood donation saves lives.

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  26. Tough story…..
    Wishing Mr Josh all the best, hope he gets the a successful kidney transplant….
    We should always be grateful to God for good health and not take for granted our basic body functions….
    ‘Money is vanity, being sick and lonely is the worst thing’
    Our health is absolutely the biggest wealth we have…

    2
  27. Thank you God for good health.

    This song came to mind while thinking what to write: Do not pass me by…Saviour… Saviour, hear my humble cry….

    Are you there God?

    Please pass by Josh and give him a breath of good health.

    Amen

    22
  28. I now understand that my dad died in pain and alone due to kidney failure……. I honestly pray that Jehovah Elohim may heal Josh so that he can spend more time with his son……….. Biko, this was deep!!

    4
  29. I pray he may get out out of all the unbearable pain. And Biko how you managed to write the whole story till the end
    I don’t know .

    2
  30. This is so sad. Is there a gofund or mpesa a/c we can chip in smth for Josh?
    May God restore Josh’s kidneys to full function & dear Lord please save his son from inheriting this condition

    5
  31. The first paragraph got me “Yet we are still here, not necessarily because we are special, but because it isn’t time. ” We lost our neighbour this week (a young mom of 4) and I haven’t stopped thinking about the waste of it all. This was a reminder that death is for all of us. And the last paragraph, what a legacy of love and courage Josh leaves for his son.

    3
  32. I feel like maybe….maybe if we die, we go to a better place. I really feel for him. I hope one day he gets to his feet n enjoys the remaining part of his life.

    2
  33. I thank the almighty God for the good health. It so sad being sick and alone.waking up next to no one, or even having nobody next to you asking how you feeling. I learnt it hard the hard way but i thank God am well today.
    may the almighty GOD heal you from your pain josh, may he grant you good health, happiness and favor.

    4
  34. May the Good lord restore his health in Jesus Name.

    I come here to read and learn new words – Word of the day wife-beater

    3
  35. It’s the simple things in life that truly matter.
    God, thank you for my heart that pumps life through me, and my kidneys and liver that filter death from me. Amen

    4
  36. Reminds me of my late dad.. He had a kidney problem. And a type of cancer known as multiple myeloma. He was told its hereditary. Now am here wondering if I’ll also go through the same pain he went through before he died. I try to enjoy this life while I still can. For I don’t know if I’ll be the next person in our family to go through dyalisis!

    1
  37. Crying and praying for Josh doesn’t change shit. Taking the insight and moving on or helping him out does. And what’s the colour of diluted hibiscus?

    1
  38. We should always thank God when you wake up with a clean bill of health….. Family and friends who are with you in good and bad times never take them for granted

  39. He says his mother died of the same kidney condition when she was 45. So did his big brother. It’s hereditary, he tells me. I’m afraid to ask if he fears for his son but I need not ask because he says, “my son has started itching on his back like I did when I was a small boy,” he says. Oh shit, I mutter in my mask.
    This one was a difficult story to read .I really hope his dreams are fulfilled.

    1
  40. Greetings Biko,
    Kindly ask Josh if he can be brought to our fellowship at Christ Tabernacle church in Luckysummer Nairobi.
    We believe that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever. And I know the Lord has something in store for him
    https://gasperaswen.org/sermons

    3
  41. That man needs deliverance. It seems like a generational issue. And it’s possible to heal and cut off that issue from his family tree forever.

    3
  42. Would you consider dating?”

    “Of course, but who would take me like this?” He poses. “It’s not easy to meet someone in this condition.”

    This broke my heart kabisa
    Well, my heart was broken already at this point but kuna a little bit that was intact. After reading this part, all of my heart is broken. Yote.

    Sigh.

    5
  43. A very moving and profound story. How we always things for granted until they are taken away from us.
    Your writing style is unique and the way you tell your story is wonderful. Is this a talent or you had to learn it somewhere.

  44. Sometimes you read something and tears just well up your eyes. I pray that Josh is the last person to suffer this in his lineage in the mighty name of Jesus!
    Its time to break bad family trends!

    2
  45. This has touched me.. May God fulfill Josh’s dreams. Heavy on being grateful to God for good health and every little thing in my life.

    1
  46. I lost my Dad to this condition back in November 7th 2010. I can finally understand what he went through.

    1
  47. I pray for Josh. May he receive divine healing and peace from the Almighty. So painful, no words can describe this.

  48. May God see him through this journey.
    I pray his son comes to see him one of this fine days together with his wife.
    I pray that God may give Him peace and joy despite the pain.

    I feel so broken for him, his wife and the son too.

  49. MAY GOD BLESS LINDA ABUNDANTLY…

    I am so broken for Josh, his wife and his son.
    They are experiencing different kinds of pain.
    May God hold Josh’s hand through this tough journey and may He give him peace and joy despite it all.

  50. This one has hit me hard…..I lost my Aunt to end stage kidney failure. She fought for 8 long years. All I can pray and hope for is for Josh to get another kidney and for his life to be somewhat better. Yes. We should never take things for granted. Especially good health and simple things like being able to pee.

    1
  51. I lost my mum in May this year to the same problems after dialysing for 5 years..I was living with her..it’s excruciatingly painful..I understand Every word Bico.. I have learned to be still and thank God for good health..and true Human compassion is a healer..it’s free.

    2
  52. Hugs to Josh. May he keep fighting and hope he manages to achieve his dream of traveling with his son. Thanks to you Bikozulu for highlighting the plight of persons living with chronic medical conditions and especially chronic kidney disease. You have created awareness in the most subtle way

    1
  53. “At the end of the day we are all but undeserving fools. Undeserving of the innocent love of our children. The loyalty of our spouses. Undeserving of the bountiful favours of the universe. Undeserving of His Will, of His Grace. Of the warmth of sunrise on our skin. Of our hearts that pump red and our kidneys that filter death from us. Yet we are still here, not necessarily because we are special, but because it isn’t time. We somehow wake up daily on a bed of ingratitude. We toil. We forget. We pray at the altar of the gods of our selfishness. We constantly forget our smallness because we are already sold on the fleeting folly of our invincibility. ”

    That one stood out for me.

    4
  54. Josh, sounds like a really nice guy. I have rummaged through my thoughts for some words to console him and all I seem to want to say is, we love you Josh.

    1
  55. At the end of the day we are all but undeserving fools. Undeserving of the innocent love of our children. The loyalty of our spouses. Undeserving of the bountiful favours of the universe. Undeserving of His Will, of His Grace. Of the warmth of sunrise on our skin. Of our hearts that pump red and our kidneys that filter death from us. Yet we are still here, not necessarily because we are special, but because it isn’t time. We somehow wake up daily on a bed of ingratitude. We toil. We forget. We pray at the altar of the gods of our selfishness. We constantly forget our smallness because we are already sold on the fleeting folly of our invincibility.

    1
  56. Loneliness is painful,. Having no one to talk to is painful but in all God is a constant friend, close to the broken hearted n crushed in spirit.

  57. My heart goes out to Josh. I had a major heart surgery when I was young. 20 years later I donated (for free) my kidney to a total stranger. I am in perfectly good health more than a decade later.
    If we can let’s visit Josh. More importantly, if you have a big enough faith go for medical tests and find out whether you can be a kidney donor.

    8
  58. One thing that this man who I call friend has taught me is faith. I wonder whether mine can get there, we say God is good all the time. Are we able to say it in suffering. That is for me the biggest lesson from Josh. Because his Faith in God is unwavering.

  59. Wow. I may not have kidney issues but I know what it is to have a chronic illness. May Josh keep the fight on. We are warriors

    1
  60. This was very sad and heartbreaking and I was reading , got a message about someone I know who just died today and was suffering from the same. I’m wishing Josh that he regains good health

  61. The things have taken for granted….Lord thank you for good health. May I always have gratitude for the much am blessed with.

  62. Tell Josh that bad things happen to good people, that i am praying for him, that there is one who sticks closer than a brother, He is the Grand creator, the greatest physician, our healer and restorer Jesus Christ. I pray that God heals and restores him. I pray that God sends him someone who will love him regardless. Amen.

  63. My heart goes out to Josh, sickness takes a huge toll on someone. May he receive love, gentleness and courage to hold him through if only for his son.

  64. Josh,
    You are one of the strongest people I have ever met in this life. I have cried and prayed for you in equal measure and I continue to do so. Thank you for sharing your story, thank you for reminding us not to take alot of things for granted.

    1
  65. This is a sad story. Glad Josh shared his story if only just to remind us to be thankful for the Grace and mercies of God.

    May God intervene for him, his son and his loved ones to find healing.

  66. Hugs Josh,you strong,all the best,God has already done it,,see you sick and you testify how others have died,I see God of impossibilities.

  67. Where have I been all this time… I can read your articles ten times… This story has broken my heart … I hope Josh reunites with his son

    2
  68. Being a nurse I understand what Josh is going through. Human compassionate is very important for people with chronic illness. May God give him grace.
    Quick recovery Josh.

    NB: Biko,not all nurses are named Faith. I promise to disable your bell alarm if you keep pressing it for fun…

    1
  69. Josh you have an army praying for you here. May God grant you healing and deliverance in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
    Isaiah 53:5
    [5]But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.

  70. 20 years is so long a time to suffer from a chronic illness, and to have your body racked with pain.
    I thank God for the grace upon your life that has enabled you to fight through the pain just for one more day to be with your son.
    I pray for you today Josh, and will continue to intercede for you daily, that Jesus Christ Himself will step into this situation, manifest Himself to you and lay His hands on you and restore every bone and organ to kingdom order, to wholeness.
    He took many stripes on the cross that we may enjoy good health, so trust Him to heal you.
    May He grant you your hearts desires to be with your son longer.
    Shalom.

    2
  71. This gender is something else…Nway, we pray to God for longer life and witness the fullness of your destiny.

    1
    1. How is the lady to blame?You got to be there to understand how compassion fatigue can sap your energy.Taking care of someone can be draining!The negativity from them can actually affect your mental health so just cut that lady some slack!

      2
  72. The second time I’m crying on this page, the first was a joyous cry but this, of sadness. The first was about the story: This man, a baton!

  73. Oh, God. Just yesterday, I was complaining about the number of times I had to pee from all the water I`ve been drinking. Not anymore. Here is to thanking God for good health.

    1
  74. Love and light. Healing is his portion. I pray that he may recover and regain all he’s lost. He is a strong man.

  75. Sometimes, stories on this blog are really life transforming. They make you reflect on things taken for granted. Some die with all their organs intact, others fight and hold on with the least they have, and for the longest. But all in all, being conscious of what you have will make you live a life of gratitude to God, all the time. Thank you Biko for your master class creative writing that makes someone laugh even in grief.

    2
  76. If your organs are still in good form,do take care of them,adhere to the dietary information you get from your nutritionist/dietician.

  77. Now I’m thinking of the organs transplant body in Kenya.. Having people donate their irgans before they die could help with situations like this… People that need organs to survive.

    Maybe in the future… In the meantime, we should not take for granted our simple bodily functions. Great read as always!!!

  78. Profound, life-changing paragraph:

    At the end of the day, we are all but undeserving fools. Undeserving of the innocent love of our children. The loyalty of our spouses. Undeserving of the bountiful favors of the universe. Undeserving of His Will, of His Grace. Of the warmth of sunrise on our skin. Of our hearts that pump red and our kidneys that filter death from us. Yet we are still here, not necessarily because we are special, but because it isn’t time. We somehow wake up daily on a bed of ingratitude. We toil. We forget. We pray at the altar of the gods of our selfishness. We constantly forget our smallness because we are already sold on the fleeting folly of our invincibility.

    2
  79. My husband’s kidneys suddenly failed in March of this year. He wanted to celebrate his 40th birthday out at home (long hospital stay). The Lord granted him that particular request. Needless to say, it has been an interesting few months. Dialysis twice a week. Hoping for a transplant as soon as the funds come through. As a wife you question the vows “in sickness and in health”. They say that words spoken have power. Someone needs to re write these church vows…
    We trudge on.

  80. “There are rich folk I have seen here who you can tell have no strong family ties. Perhaps they spent years working for money, not working on relationships. Money is vanity. Being sick and lonely is the worst thing.”

    2
  81. What a sad tale. This story has drawn from my eyes some insurmountable quantities of human tears.
    Josh, it will be well. Keep fighting for your son.
    May you recuperate fully to live many years to tell your story.

  82. I’ve been feeling sorry for myself these last few days on account of a recurring paining knee. After reading Josh’s profound story my pain on a scale of 1-10 has moved from a 7 to 0.0001. It’s an atom pain when compared to Josh’s monster pain. Hang in there brother and accept my prayers.

  83. Trust Biko to ask the tough questions. “Are you lonely?” But why??? Atleast you reduced the darkness with your jokes. Beautiful beautiful read. Thank you.

  84. May God grant Josh his heart desires. I give thanks for the good health and may I never take it for granted.

  85. It has taken me 3 days to finally finish this, perhaps because it reminded me of my father. But I finally have. Kidney failure took my dad. Kidney failure caused by high blood pressure. High blood pressure caused by the demanding lifestyle he led. I related with this story all too well. He passed on with us not on talking terms. His passing on changed me.

  86. Is there a way that people could go see him?
    A warm hand doesn’t matter whether ts from a stranger or friend will go a long way.
    Can we chip in with something,an mpesa account or account number whether 100 or 1000? Guide us Biko.

  87. Amazing job and touching write-up. Please subscribe me to your new articles. My friend just introduced me to some of your work.I love the stories untold.

  88. May the God of Miracles perform His wondrous works.Family restoration,Recovery in totality,Deliver his lineage from the scourge,Economic empowerment and everything that is exceedingly and abundantly good for Josh.

    So touching!

  89. Oh Josh … how I have prayed for you for so many years. God is still God in any circumstance. May he reach you in ways we humanly can’t.

  90. As someone who just lost a close person to kidney infection, I was reading this with a lot of emotions, you wrote Josh but I inserted his name while reading. Somehow I know understand why he sort of gave up and just wanted it all to end-the pain and the mental change that comes with having terminal illness is just too cruel. We take simple things like being able to pee for granted but when your kidneys fail, you have to face death face to face. And for a young person that’s torture because you are torn between fighting to be alive just for a few more years or to give up and be relieved of the pain. And for those of us who remain behind we are left wondering if we did enough to show you love and support; psychologically that is… The torture of what ifs is worst than the patient being no more. May God help us and please treat your body wisely.

  91. Thank you Josh for sharing your story. It truly is a wake up call to how I take my body for granted, sometimes take family for granted and not enjoying the simple things of life. I truly wish you a new lease on life.

  92. I have worked in the oncology department for 9 years now, and if there is one thing that i thank God for everyday is good health.

  93. Watched someone I loved and still love fight when his body failed him. He suffered a stroke which affected his left side of the body. He couldn’t do anything by himself and I wished that burden was physically shareable I could relieve him a little. Josh, I pray you get another kidney. Lots of love Josh

  94. Later that day, as I stood peeing in the loo, I watched the stream of my urine and I really thought of my kidneys, the silent unsung hero in my body and I said, “Thank you, God, for good health.”

    1
  95. Thank you all for your comments, encouragement and prayers. A couple of you have asked on how to contact me, Thank you for that!

    you can email me @ agukohjosh|@gmail.com. then we can correspond further. Thank you for the concerns,

    God is always there regardless and i can attest to his grace and goodness..

    Belssing,

    2
  96. This hit so deep

    “Cherish important things, when you are sick in bed, having money helps but having family is even better. Human compassion is a healer. There are rich folk I have seen here who you can tell have no strong family ties. Perhaps they spent years working for money, not working on relationships. Money is vanity. Being sick and lonely is the worst thing.”

  97. And some fool will say, there is no God. There is no Being that created those very complicated parts like liver that toil on the things we feed on.
    Forgive us, Lord. And thank you, for good health!

  98. I am a CKD patient and I agree with this whole thing, all we need is Love, but friends and even family desert us, people you wined and dined with when you were healthy all of a sudden disappear into thin air. CKD is a monster, I am glad you wrote about it

  99. Further along will know about,let him keep faih God,s ways are not our ways,He is a miracle worker , mentioning Josh in my prayers daily