An Australian man bumped his head during his bachelor party — called a buck’s night in Australia — and went to the hospital. His diagnosis was stage-four kidney disease.
Nik Pinchbeck, 34, said he had the worst day of his life shortly before the best day of his life.
“I was out on my buck’s night, and it was just like any normal buck’s night really,” Pinchbeck told News.com.au. “We all drank too much, we ate too much, and I fell up the stairs on my way home and hit my head. I woke up the next morning feeling really nauseated, more than if you’re just hung-over."
He said he saw his future wife and his father the next morning, "and they thought straight away that something wasn’t right.”
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His now-wife Brianna and father were right.
Pinchbeck was taken to the hospital and after a few blood tests and doctors diagnosed him with stage-four kidney disease.
“It was absolutely a shock. I was 31, 6 feet tall and 80 kilograms (176 pounds), and I’ve always been fit and healthy,” Pinchbeck said. “To find out that I only have 20 percent of function remaining in both kidneys, I was shocked, my family were shocked. I was three weeks out from my wedding! It was all very unknown, and a very scary time.”
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Pinchback managed to make it to his wedding but had to undergo major lifestyle changes, such as frequent blood and urine tests and diet modifications.
“I take medication to help regulate my blood pressure, but the main thing I have to monitor is what I eat,” Pinchbeck said. “I have about 150 grams (5 ounces) of protein a day, a lot less salt, no processed foods, lots of veggies.
"The first two months were really difficult, it was high stress," he added. "I was measuring my food and going above and beyond, but after a few months it was fine and I settled into a routine.”
Pinchbeck is now sharing his story as a part of Australia's Kidney Health Week, from May 24 to 30, and hopes to raise awareness about the disease, which affects more than 1.7 million Australians, according to Kidney Health Australia.
The biggest thing for me is that if I hadn’t found out when I did, I would have been directly on dialysis, or on the transplant list straight away. Even thought (sic) I found out in an unconventional way, I wouldn’t have known otherwise. You can’t reverse the effects of kidney disease. Once you damage them you can’t go back. Fifty-six people a day die from this; it’s unbelievable.
But you can halt the process. There are plenty of people in stage two who stay there forever. I’ve been able to prevent further decline due to early detection. The hardest thing with kidneys in general is that people aren’t aware of what they are or what they do. But they are like our cleaning system, you literally can’t live without them. Like now, I can’t take any kind of painkillers anymore because my kidneys have trouble processing them and just keep them churning around in my system.
You know the saying that the best things in life are free, but it’s easy to take free things for granted. Our kidneys are free, but we forget about them! We should make the effort to look after them. It really needs to be brought up more in the media and spoken about with family and friends, so people are aware of kidney disease and what it looks like.
People with diabetes and high blood pressure should be getting tested tomorrow. They’re high risk. If you’re urinating more, you’re unusually tired, a loss of appetite, if you’re getting headaches, if you have a metallic taste in your mouth — these are all things you might have because you work too much, but if you feel all these things at once, get tested. Catch it early and don’t let your kidneys decline to 10 percent functionality when it’s too late and you need a transplant. If I can keep my kidneys for as long as I possibly can, I’m in the best place — and that outcome is only possible because of early detection.
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