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Michael Machado

Kidney Failure & The Meaning Of Life

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Machado Journey

Kidney Failure & The Meaning Of Life

Michael Machado_meaning of lifeWe had a party this past weekend for Amanda, Michael’s girlfriend. In attendance, about 60 people in our back yard and the pool was full of both adults and kids. Michael hired a Taco Vendor to keep everyone happy and even bought a keg of beer to keep them happier. I never thought much about kidney failure & the meaning of life until my son went into kidney failure.

It was a celebration to commemorate Amanda’s Graduation–she received her Master’s Degree after a rocky start–the stop and go journey because of Michael’s Kidney Failure. If you remember, she had already quit her job in southern California, moved in with Michael in Monterey and then, less than 3 months living together, he was diagnosed with Renal Failure and she ceased all of her higher educational  studies.

This interruption lasted for 15 months and she suddenly found herself unemployed, scared, living with her boyfriend’s parents and caring for the young man she loved. Education was  the last thing on her mind as we all united and worked toward understanding Kidney Failure and the meaning life.

After his kidney failure diagnosis, we didn’t spend much time in our grief. Sure, we cried all the time, myself included, but simply watching your son/boyfriend/brother struggle for life was motivation for this family to fix the problem, which meant a kidney transplant.

If you are a regular reader of this Blog, you know that Michael Machado received a kidney in about 6 months, one of the fastest times from failure to wellness most doctors have ever witnessed. And now, we were celebrating another event, but it wasn’t simply the advanced degree that Amanda had received. No, it was her guts we were admiring, the determination to pursue a dream despite heavy odds and utter despair.

Going back to school had to be hard and when she discovered her student loans continued to accrue interest, even as she acted as caretaker, her grit continued. What a girlfriend!

And as I sipped my beer and watched Michael and Amanda, I couldn’t help but to wonder about this Kidney Disease business and the challenges we face in life. If I ever needed a dose of humiliation, I have received it. If I ever thought my life was winding down, it wasn’t. And if I ever needed a reason to stop this horrible trend of waiting for people to die, so a kidney patient can live, well, I have my life’s work clearly in front of me.

Our efforts, through The Charles and Jennie Machado Foundation, will be to multiply the Michael’s of the world and turn Kidney Failure into Kidney Transplant. Our goal will be to ensure that another girlfriend can laugh and dance with someone she loves, someone who received a kidney transplant and another chance at life.

Kidney Failure

Doctor’s & Kidney Failure

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Machado Journey

Doctor’s & Kidney Failure

Doctor's and Kidney FailureMany doctors are revered and some rightly so. This image of the doctor’s at Loma Linda transplanting Michael Machado are an example of true professionals, but sometimes a patient has issues with doctor’s and kidney failure.

Because of various medical situations in my life,  I have experienced tremendous medical care and I have witnessed horrible doctors with more interest in ego and status than patient care.

My recent experience with Doctor’s & Kidney Failure and Kidney Transplant was no exception.

When Michael was diagnosed with Kidney Failure, I knew the first thing we were going to need was a team. Our group would be smart, educated and committed to our goal of getting Michael a Kidney Transplant. You should know that I knew nothing about Signs of Kidney Failure before his diagnosis, but my mind is trained to solve problems and get to the end after setting a series of goals. Perhaps it is my business mind, perhaps not, but I knew that if I could put aside my emotions, I could help my son.

An attorney was first on my list, which wasn’t difficult at all. I have used lawyers all my life and am comfortable with them, so I called some I knew and figured we would have no problems in the legal department.

Next, and probably most controversial and met with heated debate and at times, contempt, was my decision to hire Medical Advocates. What is a Medical Advocate?  Never heard of this? Not many people have, but if you are faced with medical situations that you do not understand, or are willing to add personnel to keep doctors in line, a Medical Advocate may be for you. Beware though, they can be expensive.

Normally, retired nurses or individuals with higher educational prowess, these advocates require a Power of Attorney and they step into your shoes. We had a team of three women, all Registered Nurses, one a surgical assistant and another a former Kidney Transplant coordinator. I was not intentionally trying to create a wedge between the doctors and my son, but poor medical care, and inattention to some important details required a couple of telephone calls and the doctors changed their plan and method of medical care once our Advocates were brought in to consult.

I realize that most doctors are humanitarian people who care and want to help people. There are others who add the special ingredient of ego to the mix and I have found that this often clouds their judgement. To some, being right is more important than the patient’s care.

As we moved through the Kidney Transplant process, medical personnel became aware that we were represented by professionals other than just us. How could we not be? At this point, I knew very little- that we had two kidneys and that was about it. To advance my study I needed experts to help us and to also look out for the best interests of Michael.

A Medical Advocate is also willing to go into the Operating Room to observe the surgery. Since we were already on solid ground with Loma Linda and their team, I knew we were in perfect hands with medical care and decided that we did not need to send anyone in the O.R. to observe.

During the six months of kidney failure, I was looking for a dietician, or a chef, or somebody who knew about a renal diet. Food is the number one item we can control and besides medication and dialysis, it would be crucial to keeping Michael strong for Transplant Surgery.

Phosphorus, potassium, sodium are all crucial to keeping the body working properly and who would know that this small pair of organs, four inches in length, could monitor all of this and keep the body in sync. Blood pressure is controlled by the kidneys and this is essential for the heart to function properly.

I started with interviewing chefs and went through a culinary school, but nobody even heard of a renal diet.  All suggested that if I could come up with the recipes, they could implement this fine fare. The problem was that I had no idea how to cook a kidney meal or even what ingredients to use to make bland food taste good.

Some suggested I consult a dietician and I did this, but soon discovered that many can give you the ingredients, but nobody I spoke to had a clue how to prepare a meal. This was beyond issues with doctor’s and kidney failure. I was stuck and Michael was hungry, so I became the new Renal Chef of the family. Check out my other sections to learn how I learned to prepare meals that rocked!