From Wheelchair to Zumba …

In May 2008 I was told following a kidney biopsy that I had ‘cast nephropathy’ and that I would need dialysis within the year.  In fact my kidneys deteriorated so quickly that I started dialysis in the September of that year.

At that time I was very weak.  This was partly due to the underlying condition that had affected my kidneys, a little known blood cancer called myeloma.  The myeloma had not only affected the kidneys but also had led to two collapsed vertebrae and the loss of 5 inches in height.  I could walk but very short distances and going shopping required me to use a wheelchair.

When I knew I had to start dialysis I was given the option of haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis.  Having spent 17 weeks in hospital in the previous year I could not face three days a week at the hospital so opted for peritoneal dialysis.

I remember the nurse bringing a manual bag to the house and me trying to split the bag to mix the two fluids and finding it incredibly difficult.  This was just another indicator of how weak I was.   After initially being on manual exchanges four times a day I moved to the overnight machine by December 2008.

Shortly after I started dialysis I tried to get a little bit fitter by walking round the block, probably much less than half a mile.  I gradually increased the distance slightly and asked my GP if she would refer me to BEATS (Bury Exercise and Therapy Service).  In 2010 after an assessment by BEATS, they suggested I start tai chi, increase my walking and do a gentle gym programme which they worked out for me.   I followed their suggestions and found ‘health walks’ too which I did with a friend.

Although I only went to the gym for a year as I found it a bit boring, I continued with walking and tai chi.  Indeed I gradually increased walking distances so that I could walk three miles.  The tai chi helped build up my leg strength and in 2012 I decided to start Zumba.

Now I do tai chi twice a week, qigong (slightly similar to tai chi) once a week, and Zumba once a week too.

I am so glad I chose peritoneal dialysis as I love travelling and since starting on the treatment I have visited Spain (4 times), Italy (twice), Latvia, Estonia, and Sweden as well as holidays in various parts of the UK.

I felt really down when I heard that I was going to have to be on dialysis for the rest of my life but whilst that may still be true I have now an excellent quality of life and wheelchair … what wheelchair?

4 thoughts on “From Wheelchair to Zumba …

    • Sorry to hear that you have MGUS. I know this can sometimes develop into myeloma but hope this is not the case with you. Should it do so in the future I am pleased to say that there are a lot of developments in treatments even since I was diagnosed in 2006.

  • It’s so good to read such a positive story! I particularly like the way you’ve incorporated dialysis into your life as opposed to letting it become your life. You’ll have to share some photos of your travels!

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