Eric, loving father, husband, son, brother, uncle and wonderful friend to many, has been diagnosed with end stage renal failure. We are now in the process of getting on the list for a kidney transplant.
Eric has had Type I Diabetes since he was 14 years old. His diabetes has been well taken care of, he has never been hospitalized due to his condition. Eric was referred to a nephrologist about 11 years ago to monitor his kidney function. In the last 2 years, his kidney function has drastically declined and is now given the option of starting dialysis or going for a transplant in the near future. Eric’s diabetes is still well controlled and is actually even better since receiving his insulin pump, but unfortunately after years of being diabetic and increased blood pressure, his kidneys are starting to wear out.
December 16, 2021
A year ago today, started out just like any other day. The morning rush to get out the door to school, work, and daycare. Mom, of course, needing to take the time to get a picture of the boys in their Christmas sweaters. There was light fluffy snow on the ground. Eric was just about 3 weeks post op from having a PD catheter placed. We were waiting for the dialysis nurse to call us to tell us when she could schedule us for training to learn to do PD dialysis at home. We were planning to have dialysis as part of our life for the next year at least.
That was not the phone call that we received that day. The phone call we got was the call we wanted, but not the one that we were prepared to have. Ready or not, it was here. Heck by the time we got a call from the dialysis nurse, Eric was able to tell her that he got his transplant and they removed his PD catheter.
How our normal day quickly changed. We had about 3 hours to pack and make arrangements for out life at home. Everyone we called when we go the news went above and beyond for us. Everyone said “tell us what you need and we will take care of it, go”. We thought that we had time to make more concrete plans when the time would come. To those who picked our children up from school that day after we got maybe 15 minutes to stop by the school to tell them the news. Those who helped me make arrangements for me to stay while I was there, looking back, it really did lift a weight off of my shoulders.
The car ride to the hospital was quiet. We had so many emotions. Thinking about the donors family and what they were going through. We think about the donors family often. How they must feel this time of year missing their loved one. I pray that they find comfort in knowing that the legacy of their loved one lives on. We pulled up to the hospital a little after 8pm that night. I can’t imagine the strength it took for Eric to walk through those hospital doors alone that night.
This year has been bitter sweet to say the least. I feel like we will never be able to say thank you enough to everyone who helped us in anyway this last year.
April 1, 2021
It has just been over 3 months since Eric has walked into the hospital to have his life changing surgery. This whole journey has been a timeline of “unknown”. From the very beginning when we were told it could be anywhere from 1-2 years before Eric would get a match for a kidney and pancreas, but he ended up getting the call that he had a match only 7 days after he was called and told he was going to be listed on the active waitlist (with only 7 months of wait time granted due to COVID restrictions slowing the process down). We were not sure what to expect recovery would be like for him. We were told that he would be in the hospital after surgery for 2-10 days, he was discharged after 11 days. We were told that we might have to stay in Minneapolis area near the hospital for up to 6 weeks, I was able to bring Eric home 2 weeks after being discharged. We weren’t even sure that Eric would be back at work today, but he has been working since the beginning of February. We are so thankful for his health and how well things have been going. That all being said, not every step of this journey has been easy for him. There have been bumps on his path. Healing is a process and he still has a ways to go.
To give you a better idea of actually how well things are going for Eric at this point, the day before surgery his kidney function (GFR) was at 16 (normal is >60) his creatinine was 4.59 (normal range for this is 0.70-1.3). His kidneys were failing. This week his kidney function was 68 and his creatinine was 1.24!! His fasting glucose was 98 with absolutely no insulin since leaving this hospital. His lipase and amylase, pancreatic enzymes that they have been monitoring closely since transplant have been right around the normal range. He is doing lab work only weekly now. His monthly follow up appointments have been able to be done virtually. He is down to only 9 different medications that he has to take daily, from having to take 14 daily and a few more as needed medications. God is good! He has some big plans for Eric! Looking back on where he started to where he is now, in just 104 days since surgery. (I wrote this on 3/30/21)
Kidney disease starts silent. I remember back when we were younger, going with Eric to his Diabetes doctor and asking him if he still needed to see the kidney doctor because he felt fine and every time he went they would tell him that his labs look good, see you in 6 months. I hadn’t even started nursing school to know any better myself. He diabetes doctor, of course, told him that yes, he certainly did need to continue seeing his Kidney doctor, and he did. Majority of the time his follow up appointments were every 6 months and not much change. Unfortunately with his diabetes and hypertension, his kidneys declined. March is #nationalkidneymonth, meant to bring awareness for this disease and factors that go into managing kidney disease. 1 in 3 Americans are at-risk for kidney disease. 37 million people have chronic kidney disease (most don’t even know it) and 100,000 people are waiting for a kidney transplant. Early detection can help prevent the progression of kidney disease into kidney failure. I got these statistics from kidney.org and I will be honest I was not always aware of how prevalent kidney disease is today. In sharing Eric’s story, we hope to help make others more aware. Eric also did something that I especially think is pretty awesome! He was asked to be interviewed to share is experiences with diabetes and kidney disease with the nursing class at Dakota Wesleyan University. I hope they were able to learn something from his experience. I can say that from being a nurse myself, and a nursing student myself not to long ago (
Photo Galleries (2)
January 27, 2021
\"God Is Good.\" Congrats to you!
January 8, 2021
Praying for you guys! ❤️ We’re here for you!
December 25, 2020
Slama sends his best wishes. He would have sent this himself but he is very technologically challenged.
Shawn Van Gerpen