Dione Bullard’s passion for creative expression has followed him throughout his entire life. From his early days in church choir to his time as a celebrity stylist a...
In August 2018, Robert and Ketanya Moore decided to switch life insurance companies. The new company required health tests to determine their premiums, but as healthy, active adults, neither were too worried. They went to the doctors for routine checkups and thought nothing more of it.
Then Ketanya got the call that would change their lives forever–the insurance company thought something might be wrong with Robert's kidneys.
Diagnosed with stage 4 kidney disease
"I was in instant denial thinking they must have mixed the labs up. I had never been hospitalized, I rarely got sick, and I didn't feel any different," said Robert. "I got my levels checked again and they confirmed I had kidney disease. My kidneys were functioning at less than 30 percent."
Robert was shocked. He avoided soda and ate healthily his entire life–He didn't smoke, drink, or use drugs, recreational or over-the-counter. His doctor explained that his kidney disease was from high blood pressure that he wasn't aware of.
"I play a lot of sports, and my doctor had shared that my blood pressure was a little elevated, but only because I played," said Robert. "I wish they had explained high blood pressure and how it could affect my kidneys."
The Moores did a deep dive into everything kidney-related, learning how they work and what they do.
"I got a crash course on kidneys. I never knew how important they were," said Robert. "We started monitoring everything, especially my blood pressure and sodium intake. I also told my children what was going on. It wasn't a conversation I wanted to have but they need to know so they could be cautious moving forward with their own health. It was uncomfortable to be vulnerable with them since I'm Superman in their eyes, but necessary."
With family support and careful attention to his blood pressure, Robert maintained kidney function for the next two years.
Kidney failure and dialysis
In August 2021, Robert caught COVID-19 and went into kidney failure.
"I caught COVID-19 and it completely knocked my kidney function down," Robert said. "I was hospitalized for ten days but it felt like two years. I’d never gone on vacation without our kids so to be separated from them felt like an eternity. They couldn't see me at all because I was in a COVID-19 unit. It was very isolating but it gave me a chance to reflect. I don't want to take anything for granted and I want to fight even harder to get healthy."
"The worst part of my journey was leading up to dialysis. I've always heard how bad it was and really didn't want to go through it. I spent two years trying to prepare myself for dialysis," said Robert. "At every nephrologist checkup, starting dialysis was my main concern. Now that I'm on dialysis, I realized it's not as mentally tough as it was leading up to it."
Dialysis was a life change for Robert, but he continues to take it in stride.
"Everyone knows me for being high-energy but dialysis is very draining–almost like running a 5k," said Robert. "I'm doing this for my family, though, so it's actually an honor to go into a dialysis clinic. Every session is me fighting for them. I want to be the best father and husband I can be. Overall, it isn't that bad, just boring. You sit for four hours, three days a week so my advice is to catch up on a lot of movies."
Despite how exhausting dialysis is, he has never given up on his passions.
"I'm big on sports, so I do a lot of coaching football and training youth. Last year I left dialysis and went straight to a game that determined whether we would go to the championship," said Robert. "Then I had minor surgery the day before the championship but I still went to the game and we won. I love showing the kids I coach that nothing has to get in the way of their dreams."
Spreading kidney disease awareness
Robert and Ketanya are active community members and wanted to share the importance of checking your kidneys. Together, they created the First Annual Tackle Kidney Disease event to help ensure more people have the opportunity to learn what the kidneys do and how to take care of them.
"Robert is a football coach so we gathered the youth football teams and the football league to do a Kidney Walk before the game. We had doctors and physicians inside the school do free screenings for anyone who wants to get tested for kidney disease," said Ketanya. "We also released doves to honor all those who have died due to kidney disease."
Do you want to create your own kidney disease awareness event?
Here are five ways you can get involved:
- Advocate: Work with advocates to influence public policy through simple activities like emailing, calling, or tweeting your legislators.
- Fundraise your way: Raise money through activities you enjoy, like bake sales, auctions, or movie nights.
- Challenge yourself: Whether it's a 5K, a group bike ride, or a dance marathon party, you can participate in your favorite event while helping support the National Kidney Foundation.
- Honor a loved one: Create a page to honor your loved one who passed from kidney disease.
- Stream to support: Fight kidney disease while playing your favorite game, vlogging, or hosting a charity stream
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