I was first diagnosed with kidney failure when I was 19 years old.

A year prior I had been getting a lot of excruciating pain in one of my big toes. A local medi-center had "diagnosed" it as rheumatoid arthritis and gave me some anti-inflammatory medication for it. After a year of suffering with this I went to another doctor who ordered some blood tests. When the results came back he sent me to see a nephrologist at the University of Alberta. I thought nothing of this and went to see him. He basically told me I needed to have either a kidney transplant or go on dialysis. I was shocked to say the least. It turned out my kidneys had failed due to reflux. Basically, the valves between my bladder and kidneys didn't work properly and when my bladder would fill up it would back up into my kidneys and slowly damaged them.

Kidney failure has changed my life in many ways. Most notably in the amount of time I spend dealing with it. The time that it takes to set up for dialysis, be connected on dialysis, come off afterwards, taking care of the machine, feeling drained after, organizing and unpacking supplies etc. It all takes time away from my day. It has made traveling very difficult. Fluid and diet restrictions are another major thing dealt with daily.

An obstacle that I have overcome and I'm proud of is the tiredness and weakness that is typical with dialysis. I have managed to push past and continue to workout in the gym despite it. I workout about 4-5 days a weeks and keep myself in as good a shape as possible. I compete regularly in power-lifting competitions as well.

I maintain a positive outlook on life because of the huge amount of support I receive from my wife, my son, family, and friends. I've always focused on keeping a positive attitude as much as possible. I try to meditate regularly as well which I find really helps in that aspect.

I don't think many people realize that there is no cure for kidney failure. Dialysis is not a cure and transplants are not a cure. With current treatments they're only temporary solutions. Dialysis comes with many side effects. Transplants are risky and the medications needed after come with many side effects. There are companies working on artificial kidney transplants that would be a huge step forward. Fingers crossed these will be available soon.

I'm currently not interested in a transplant because I had two that never worked when I first started on dialysis. One was from my sister and the other from my mum. The first one lost blood flow during the surgery and never started working and the second worked for a few days but then lost blood flow and rejected.

Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada