My sucky year with CKD and Trump

So here I am waiting to get my kidney transplant and I can’t help but notice a few parallels between chronic kidney disease (CKD) and the Trump administration. First of all, this didn’t happen overnight. I was diagnosed with CKD in 2007, right before the Obama administration. But I had no real symptoms. I had to take a little pill for blood pressure, which bothered me at first, but I took it and forgot about it. Was I too blithe?

Obama was elected in 2008 and I celebrated, along with the rest of the country. Those were good years that looked to hope and change. I took my little pill and lauded the new diversity. I scoffed at the Tea Party, and their pathetic little outbursts, much as I did at my disease. Please, me? I’m in shape, just like Obama. He plays basketball. I swim laps. I don’t have diabetes. I’m his exact age — his birthday is one month away from mine.

Wait. Did I say the rest of the country? Turns out some of us weren’t celebrating, and Obama became embattled. His hair went grey. I kept getting my blood checked and my levels were edging upward. But he was re-elected in 2012 and I still didn’t have any symptoms. Those years wore on and his frustration increased. I noticed some of my energy ebbing away. I added a new prescription.

But 2016 was sure to bring us fresh joy. I was sent to Mt. Sinai Hospital to be evaluated as a transplant candidate. Okay, it wasn’t what I expected but I passed. And we had Hillary. I had a biopsy in August, just to more fully explore my situation. Those were the polls, telling us everything would be okay.

My older sister was set to donate. She had a lot to give and so did Hillary. I counted on her. And we counted on Hillary. We admired her for what she’d done. We assumed a lot, that she’d take care of us, carry on the Obama legacy. I knew my older sister would come through, as she always had.

And then Hillary lost and my sister got rejected, right at the same time. We were blindsided. And now we’re living through the year of not knowing what’s going to happen next. And it doesn’t take but a moment’s reflection to see that our certainty was misplaced, and that there were signs.

Is that it, you say? Am I stuck on the waiting list for the next eight years, with the probability of going on virtual life support (dialysis)? Are we stuck with Trump? CKD is unpredictable, just like Trump. I went to my doctor shortly after the election and the readings from my blood samples had improved. I felt better all of a sudden. This was the popular vote being reconciled and the fleeting hope that the recounts in key states might yield something.

That hope kind of dwindled from the news and after the holidays the inauguration clinched the terror of the real for us — or the surreal? And I started walking around in a haze. What was supposed to be low in my blood was high and what was supposed to be high was low. The world had truly turned upside down. And every day brought a fresh onslaught. You could barely keep up with what Trump had done and it seemed his mission was to wear you down. And who were all those white guys? What an anemic staff. And that’s right. I had anemia now. There was hardly any red in my blood and I felt as if I could barely walk to the train to get to work.

But there’s a drug for that. CKD is a treatable disease. My doctor prescribed it and it took me three weeks to get it — lack of communication and bungling — just as in the Trump administration. The pharmacy never told my doctor the drug wasn’t covered by my insurance. And then it was. And then it wasn’t. It was like Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer trying to get straight what Trump was saying and doing.

But guess what? I got that drug. It’s injectable. It’s going to tell my body to manufacture red blood cells. It’s already making me stronger. And I have something else waiting in the wings and that’s a younger sister. She’s also a match. And she’s been working out and losing weight. That’s the Democratic Party. This isn’t over yet, people.

She comes out for heath-testing in March. She’s flying in to JFK. Remember that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I could have my transplant by June. And when that happens I’ll be thinking of all the people around me who are responsible for helping me through. Those are all the journalists and the protesters and the comedians and the late-night hosts who’ve kept us going in this trying time. CKD is unpredictable. So is Trump. But it’s a treatable disease and I’m told that a transplant will restore my health completely. How long will we have to wait before that can be applied to our country? Because in the meantime, it does a whole lot of damage to your body.

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