kidney disease and disability

Illustration by Mark Weber

I was born with spina bifida — basically an in utero spinal cord injury — in the early ’70s. Like many others with mobility limitations, I have had to deal with what I call the “side dishes of disability.” In those days, we found ourselves in many learn-as-we-go situations. One of the recurring side dishes that popped up consistently for me was renal health. At one point in my childhood, it seemed I had a different type of UTI on a monthly basis.

Back then, everyone was preoccupied with creating a germ-free environment, so my doctors prescribed a different antibiotic each round. Eventually they decided that my system was being compromised by the constant rotation of antibiotics. Since I would always carry low-grade bacteria by nature at all times, unless it “bloomed,” the best thing for my body was to allow it to create its own antibodies.

Time passed. Then, in the spring of 2012, I tangled with acute renal failure after being prescribed the wrong blood pressure medication. The error shut down my entire syst