I am a 43 year old kidney dialysis patient. I was born with a congenital heart defect. I was the little girl in school who only watched other kids play in the playground. I never really felt the symptoms of a kid with a congenital heart defect. I never understood to why I couldn’t perform in any physical activities. 

At the age of 11 I had an open heart surgery that went very smoothly. Though I still have a heart murmur that will never go away. Otherwise, I was as good as I could be no restrictions on the activities. I joined sports throughout my high school years and kept myself busy with swimming and volleyball. 

On May 2012 was when my kidneys failed. I was 38 years old. I couldn't figure out how I gained so much in days. I had spent the weekend at my mom's. Sunday came around I told my mom that I couldn't breathe. She had brought me to the emergency room and they took some tests. The doctor came back with the results and said that my kidneys had failed due to hypertension. I was crushed and devastated. I asked why me again? I can see it in my mom's eyes that she was ready to cry. It just took her back to when I was born. My blood pressure was 186/101 when I had come in the emergency room. The reason why I gained so much was because of fluids. The surgeon had to perform the dialysis catheter in front of my mom. While he was doing it, she and I were just crying. I was confined in the hospital for 7 days. For the first 5 days they were taking out 5kg of fluids a day. Seeing if my Creatinine (the number that measure kidney function - the lower the better) will drop. Unfortunately it didn't. 

For the first year I was pretty devastated. My first trip to the grocery store I nearly cried because of the restriction of my diet. My husband had to be in and out of the country because of his profession. At the time our son was only 15. I couldn't just sit around the house and feel sorry for myself. I have to be strong for me and my family.

I got up one morning and started walking in our trails. Almost a year of walking close to 3 miles on the trails I finally got bored. So I joined the gym. I started with just getting on the treadmill to lifting small weights. I felt I can do more so I joined body pump (weight lifting class). Just over the months I was getting my normal strength back and I joined Zumba and spin class. 

I also started going to this therapy called EECP (Enhanced External Counter Pulsation). This treatment has helped me a lot. It's a cardio treatment for angina and heart failure but it is more than that. It's a non-medicinal treatment. It's a blood circulation treatment which is circulated into all your organs including kidneys. I believe this has helped me a lot with my strength today. 

I'm going on 5 years with dialysis and I've never stopped going to the gym. I'm in the gym Monday, Wednesday, & Friday from 8:45am - 10:30am. I'm still in spin and Zumba along with the weights. The gym has been a part of my lifestyle. I feel I am stronger, healthier, and better than before my kidneys failed.

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Patient Information

Patient Name: Sheila Walker

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Date of Birth: 10/18/73