More powerful than the best artillery is information in the hands of those who want to use it.

Despite it being among the top ten non-communicable disease killer in our country, kidney disease has continued to receive a wide berth as far as resource allocations go. There is so much the government, present and future could do to make sure that this is rectified. However I believe that the steering wheel of your health, #TeamPhoenix is not one you carelessly leave to other people. It must be your vehicle, your wheel.

The goal of many of these #KidneyWednesday articles are to make you feel empowered enough to approach Kidney Disease from a point of some sort of know-how. There is a need to perceive Kidney Disease as a primary ailment rather than a cause-effect phenomenon. That means we can talk about kidney disease and the disparaging misery it has brought to many households. That means we can now include Urine analysis as a mandatory baseline test for anyone visiting our health facilities.

#TeamPhoenix, my desire is for you to be informed. Shall we start some information therefore?


I know I have said it before but shall I repeat anyway. There is a major difference between Acute Kidney Injury and Chronic Kidney Disease. Now, the former is easily reversed if the right measures are put in place and I have a thousand and one words to say on this topic on my Facebook Wall before we gave birth to this blog. Most of the patients we handle , however, are suffering chronic kidney disease and unfortunately are in the fifth stage of the illness called End Stage Renal (Kidney) Disease.

Diabetes Mellitus and Hypertension are the two leading causes of this disease and I can’t overemphasize that point. There is however, a rather little known disease called Polycystic Kidney Disease. More often than not this is discovered while one is being treated for a totally different condition. It is a situation where the kidneys develop cysts (water -filled growths). These tiny little monsters compress the normal tissue of the kidneys. The result is reduced surface area for the kidneys to do their work. That increases the blood pressure in the kidneys and the general systemic circulation leading to a further damage to the kidneys.

A feedback cycle from hell you could call it.

That usually presents in the early thirties. I must say I never thought much about it until I went to the Renal Clinic at Kenyatta National Hospital during my training. I encountered so many young people on management for Polycystic Kidney disease, the reality was staggering for me.

It presents with very high blood pressure. Time and again a patient can be mismanaged–albeit genuinely, as having a migraine. Wait, now that I have written that down, I think I need to make some calls…funny how real things appear when one writes them down!

Where were we?

Polycystic kidney disease detected early is managed and the disease progression slowed. We may do little to reverse it as it has everything to do with our genetic make up. The reason I am highlighting this is to make you realize the need for this conversation surrounding Kidney failure.

We need early screening and staging of the disease so as to inform management. Last time I told you a story of a Patient we are dialysing who we shouldn’t be, at least not yet, had the attending consultant identified the staging early enough and referred the patient to a Nephrologist.

See, there is a culture of indomitability within medics circles, and Kenya has not been spared, that really needs to come to an end. This is where a consultant or doctor or another medic delays a referral to specialists in the name of figuring it out. I daresay medicine is dynamic and nobody will have all the answers. What you do is put these patients at risk as you focus on what to do or not do. As you become too afraid to be labelled incompetent just because you referred a patient. This is why we have so many cases of terminally ill patients whose stories look like they were scripted by the same writer.

That is how patients start dialysis and they tell us that they have been undergoing treatment for stomach ulcers, Malaria, Typhoid and a horde of other illnesses which if we take a proper history, were all related to the failing kidneys. The Chronic nature of this type of kidney disease means that it does not befall us as a thief in the night. Surely there are signs.

If your patient isn’t responding to particular management after a set timeline, why on God’s green earth do you want to keep treating them for that same condition till Jesus comes? What happened to effective referrals being part and parcel of management?


#TeamPhoenix, do find out the type of Kidney disease you are dealing with. I always say sometimes you do not know because you do not ask. Please ask the medical team handling your loved one, you or a friend or a neighbor what type of Kidney disease they are dealing with.

If it is Chronic, I want you to be part of the team that supports these families. Please encourage them to attend dialysis sessions because if the kidneys are failing, we are accumulating wastes in the blood and excess water which by and by will lead to complications.

Drop them at the renal unit, provide some eggs for them, ask about their next session, talk about the need for kidney transplant, link them to people who have undergone transplant and are doing well. Link them to people who have been on dialysis for a couple of years. Be there. Be available. If a village brings up a child, then the village should indeed help one to be well again. Let us put to action those community values we boast of as an African village.

It doesn’t need a title but here we are

Let us have conversations about Kidneys and how to keep them healthy. As well as how to manage the disease if it comes to that. End stage renal disease is a terminal illness in itself but it should not be the way life comes to an abrupt halt.

People can dialyse and still attend school, work and be productive. People can undergo kidney transplant and change the whole ballgame altogether. However this is a multi-pronged team effort. I keep saying that the most important player of the medical team is you, #TeamPhoenix–the patient/client.

Ask questions. Seek simple explanations. If not for anything else, for the sake of your consultation fees. That is what you pay for, right? Consultation. Then by all means , Consult.

Next week , we shall talk about functions of the kidneys. I know we had talked about it on my Facebook wall but I have this unsettling need of going through them again.

It has been a pleasure having you today.


No sassy quote can describe the sound of loneliness as it carries your heart.

This is the last time I am typing this paragraph. I have offered burnt offerings to the gods of my forefathers hoping that just this once, I write half a page. Writing is supposed to be meteoric for me but lately it has been a constant skid in the mud and a painful drag on earthen floor. As earthen as my grandma’s hut.

I have been an average female who has refused to let go of what defined her when she was still starting in her career. I have refused to move on. Moving on is a sexy idea. What with feminists preaching self-love and the internet saying how cool it is to be a new person. New mindset and if you please, a new wardrobe. Unfortunately, what I lack in flexibility I cannot even compensate in fashion. I am as old as a cat. Why a cat? I think cats don’t have nine lives. They are just old.

I finally received the complete judgment of the judge who laid a final verdict on my marriage. She wrote in such exaggerated legal jargon that I wondered if that was my story summarized in a few words. The words cut through the blackest of spaces. And I am very black to be fair.

As much as possible, I am supposed to be happy and relieved. Happy or relieved.Both.However there is an unceasing gnaw of ache in my spirit. I keep going back in my mind to days I spent as a happily married girl-or what I imagined was happy. I especially keep rewinding the month of August before I walked down the aisle in September. Sometimes the voices in my head suggest time travel.

I recall days the choir of lassies invaded my privacy and candidly reminded me that I was a means to some end. I ignored them and labelled them envious. In positively glowing ways exactly as I would have loved to see them in hell at that time.

All signs indicated that getting married to my then fiancé was a terrible idea. For starters, he was yet to make peace with his demons. Talking of which, you can’t escape your demons. I enrolled mine in a circus and we are having the time of our life. They are the eye of the fire in my life. I stare at it and no, it won’t blink.

There is a certain shame one feels when they realize that the castle they built was made of eggshells. There is an undeniable loss when one realizes every dream they had was actually a dream. I have been wanting to scream and shout at the son of my former mother in law. I swear I had a few wonderfully crafted things to tell him. Words that cut across me like a network of dry riverbeds. I wanted to talk to him on a bright dawn just before the sun slit through the curtains.

It was the suggestion of the Demon-In-Chief in my head to remind him that he was the first tree in my forest yet he burnt it.The Deputy Demon said he burnt it down because it was never his forest.It was my uncanny ability to make terrible decisions. I had to choose whether to wallow in the cesspit of pity or learn the lesson and hope to make more creative mistakes in future.

I have not stopped to preach to myself that I will be alright someday. I have not lied to the girl in me that someday it won’t hurt. I know that it will hurt. Especially when I look at the judgment and the Decree from the court. There is abusive marriage and there is something about seeing the details on paper.

I asked my lawyer if he was sure that that was my story. He sadly reminded me the day I went to make an Initial statement. You see, divorce must be factual. You must be able to prove to the law that you have grounds for it.That was when I hated my life a little bit. Do not get me wrong, I am grand. However I can be a wee bit daft too.

I typed the exact things that had been happening in my otherwise perfect home and I broke down staring at the screen. As the cursor left space after space after every diabolic atrocity nobody should do to another human being; especially a human being they walked with down the aisle, my heart ripped open. Small rivulets of thirsty blood spilled out. Small tributaries of anguish welled up and overflowed in the form of tears. Unhappy tears that dripped drop after drop on the desk of my solicitor. I asked for a lawyer, not a therapist. It seemed like I needed both.

So with the inevitable sheet of pain lying idly on my desk, I had to choose.

I made the choice to embrace that part of my story. To stare at it and wink sometimes. To hug it to my warm bosom and then throw it off a cliff. There is no prison greater as the one in one’s mind. The moment we break the chains and set sail towards Island Freedom, no gates of captivity can contain us.

It pays to be at perfect harmony with the ghosts of one’s mistakes. The heart may be fragile and coated with a thin layer of hurt but it is all we have sometimes. Much as I hated looking at the full judgment, I had to surrender myself to the emotions it brings.

I decided to give in to the pain and brokenness this particular writing would bring me.To dive into the darkness emanating from a strike of the pen and a dropping of the gavel. To actually take a walk into the bottom pit. It is only by going dark can one see the rays of light. When we hit the rock bottom of desperation, anxiety and foreboding, we can see so many pathways to the top.

I have become good at feeling bad. I have allowed negativity to latch and suck onto my soul like a baby unquenched at the mother’s breast. That is how I am able to walk into positivity. Not because I believed in myself but because I did not. I do not win at self-motivation and maybe that is what someone wants to hear. That they are perfectly fine feeling terrible. That they are perfectly dandy even if hours and hours of psychotherapy have not helped to ease the pain.

That it was not meant to work like some pixie dust. It was meant to be grilling and as long as they are putting in the work, we shall all be alright. Probably not fully but we will not sit and stare at our wounds forever.

Getting out of bed and doing something other than count the number of tiles in the room, going to work and actually loving it, waking up to meet some much needed friends and going out in the bright sunshine or wintry night; these have become my absolute tiny victories. I have found solace in the written word. It is funny how it leaves me when it is out there. It is hellishly liberating.

Words are the sauce with which to serve a perfectly ruined lunch.


you are about to exceed the limits of my medication

Linda is an 88 year old lady with a hump on her back. I initially stared when she first was brought by Rose, her daughter, to our Renal unit. I know I should not have stared I know but these my eyes! Humped she might be but her humor was as straight as a roundabout. She joked that what God denied her in shape compensated in her buttery mouth.

Linda had been attending a medical outpatient clinic somewhere in the leafy suburbs of Nairobi. The consultant she had been seeing had declared her to have a myriad of age-related problems. These are Rose’s words not mine. Hypertension to Diabetes to Arthritis and an array of others that I have forgotten to remember.

The events leading to their visit on that sunny Thursday afternoon was a more recent hospitalization at yet another well-to-do private hospital. Interestingly, the same consultant saw her at this hospital with a severe case of headache, irretractable vomiting and diagnosed her with End Stage Renal Disease and acute hemodialysis was started.

Later, Rose and her mother were to learn that that was just the beginning to a lifelong visit to renal unit. Given the close proximity of our Unit to the interior parts of central Kenya where this family lives, they came to book a slot for this fine lady. Linda had a prescription of about fifteen medications and supplements most of which counteracted with each other. I remember calling Doctor K with palpable anguish in my voice.

He is our renal pharmacist. He has become a darling to all the patients on hemodialysis. He has helped many manage their medications with a rationale behind each and every tablet. He came and I could see the look of dismay as he went through the prescription that dear old Linda was on.

Mom and daughter were initially skeptical seeing that it is a consultant who had been dealing with them in a major private hospital but here we were, in a government owned facility, with some young-ish lad wearing a white lab coat telling them that we had to get rid of some of these impossibly expensive drugs. It has been five months and the blood parameters of Linda have greatly improved painting a vivid picture of adequate dialysis. A fete impossible to achieve if the medication regime is a display of rumors and suggestions.

#TeamPhoenix that brings me to the gist of our #KidneyWednesday today. In our Kenyan setup, rarely does End Stage Renal Disease happen overnight. Moreso in the elderly, and those with Diabetes Mellitus and/or hypertension, End Stage Renal Disease does not come upon us like a thief in the night. Linda did not suddenly develop renal failure. It was a case of omission from the doctor attending her. He had omitted telling her that she was in the early stages of renal disease and therefore refer her to a nephrologist early enough.

The medications that a renal patient uses must be carefully examined by a clinical renal pharmacist. Most of the drugs used to treat hypertension will more often than not raise Potassium levels . Now ,in a Patient with end stage renal disease, high Potassium levels is the last thing you want to deal with. Some of them will cause fluid retention in the body. In end stage renal disease, fluid retention in the lungs, heart and other areas of the body is the last thing you want to handle.

Renal Pharmacology is a very ignored area as far as management of renal patients go. That coupled with our lack of regulation of public chemists place our patients at dire risks of renal emergencies and deterioration of the disease. #TeamPhoenix, We learnt that the only thing we can do with chronic kidney disease is slow its progression, right? Please tell me you remember that lesson…

In our endevour to slow the disease progression, we alleviate the sting of complications and help the patients live lives that are as close to normal as possible. Unless we do not really mean what we say, these tablets must be evaluated to give them a clean bill of health. These tablets must come with renal instructions. Pharmacists at the chemist must at least ask the customer about their kidney health. You as the mwananchi must learn to ask the pharmacist if the drug you want to buy is safe for you or someone suffering kidney disease.

Learn to ask because there are always safer options.

As the Nephrology nurses, we can only do so much in terms of dialysis. We need a robust support from the Pharmacists and the general medicine-buying-culture in Kenya to achieve some sort of milestones in our ardent fight against Chronic Kidney Disease. There are many classes of anti hypertensives and not all are to be used in a patient on dialysis. The same applies to anti-diabetics. I must say I am proud of Doctor K. He manages to explain to the patients the WHY before changing the drugs for the patients. That is a character lacking in many of our doctors and nurses in Kenya.

Not many medics teach before treating. That to a great extent, explain the huge percentage of non-compliance to treatment modalities. It is futile to tell people to follow some way without explaining why they need to follow it. I am an avid advocate of public health education so this touches my heart.

It is your health and that of your loved ones. Please ask questions as far as medications go.

Thank you for passing by.


“I am a prime example of the way kidney disease strikes silently,” Sean Elliot

Despite being one of the top ten common claimers of life,chronic kidney disease still struggles to receive visibility in Kenya.It is worthwhile to note hat the poverty of statistical data has not stopped the Global Burden of Disease (2015) study from ruling that5-10 million people die annually due to kidney disease.”The common lack of awareness and frequently poor access to laboratory services ,such numbers underestimate the true burden posed by kidney disease,”concludes WHO.

Mine is not to bore you with lengthy academic papers.Let us make that a little digestible to us.When we talk of disease burden especially with End stage renal disease,we need to be awake to some of the struggles of daily living in the life of a patient.

What I have had to grapple with and most renal nurses I am sure is the constant poly-pharmacy. A renal patient of dialysis will most likely have medicine to lower their Phosphorous level while adding their Calcium level,medicine to add the level of blood,medicine to lower the blood pressure,medicine to regulate blood sugar ,medicine for the heart,medicine for nerves and the list can’t be exhausted.The problem is the utter intimidating nature of all these tablets one person is expected to take and remember to take.

It is overwhelming even to think about it. I am a nurse and the idea of swallowing medication or receiving it in any other form makes me cringe. The families are faced with the constant fact of buying these drugs month in month out and it is not a wonder to see most of our patients going without them.

Just like the infamous American heath system,the Kenyan one is perpetually making a patient choose between treatment and food. Between taking children to school and proper healthcare.This should never be the case in a country that indeed loves her people.

The good old NHIF can and should pay for these essential drugs but the drugs are always conveniently missing from the hospital pharmacy.Maybe I need to say it again. There is a mismatched relationship between low income status in Kenya and the prevalence of end stage renal disease. Perhaps because the rich are able to deter the progression of the illness at its early stages.

Perhaps because the haves can access better and timely medical care as compared to the have nots. It has become a death wish to be below the poverty line in Kenya.It is a rich man’s country.

I can’t stop the activist in me now,can I?

Let us go back to our topic…

I implore you as #TeamPhoenix to be so kind as to check on those among us with kidney disease and are on dialysis. They too are part of this daunting team. It is financially and emotionally exhausting. This is compounded by the fact that they may not ask for your help for fear of being a constant bother. Most die in silence if not saying all is well.

All is not well.It is not when someone has to prepare two meals at every mealtime. One for the rest of the family and one for the patient. It is especially difficult when that meal is not easy to come by.

Yet they have drugs to buy and laboratory tests to take and a dialysis session to attend to.

That is where I advocate for a renal counselors and social services care contact persons in every renal unit.We need a safe place where the caregivers and the patients can express their challenges.The nephrology nurses can only do so many dialysis sessions.We need help. I believe there is help out there. If not for anything else,for availability of all these medicines without which the quality and length of time of patients on dialysis is reduced. Let us stop unnecessary and premature deaths.

And to you my #TeamPhoenix,do not expect a sufferer of kidney disease to ask you for help. Offer it anyway. Please help. That is the only way we can beat the burden of end stage renal disease. It does not matter what you do. Probably buy a week supply of drugs, maybe find out their dietary needs and provide that for a day or two, there is something all of us can do.

This Nephrology nurse will keep writing to tell you about it.

As always, having you read is my honor.


She did not know what made her more sad

I am a good girl. I know that is what most bad girls say but believe you me on the one-to-ten scale of badness, I rank between 4.5 and 6.That is grand. A few people have talked about it too. Even written about it.Okay, not anything publish-able but I wish I could show you my text messages from a few years ago. Oh, I keep them for reference. Because people no longer tell me cute things about myself.Meanies.

Having fed myself with that positive outlook of who I am, I walked out of a marriage. It was a typical day. The wind blew, dogs barked and Kiambu constituents still sung #KabaKabogo and Chelsea was still the best football club in the English premier League.

Because it was a quintessential Kenyan day, I envisioned my husband fighting for me. I dreamt of beautifully crafted apologies. I looked forward to a “ let’s meet and talk about this.” Is this where I sing ndivyo sivyo by Professor Jay?

A day became two. Before that could give birth to a third, he sent a message in the most magnificent sarcastic manner.

“Seems like you left. Send me a thousand bob to sort something here”

Yes. That simple. I was gone with everything to my name but my dear hubby wanted some cash. Because I had become his Mother Teresa wanna-be, I quickly applied for a KCB-MPESA loan and sent the money. I also started the conversation of why I left. I must have missed the part where nobody asked.

Our relationship was wrought with so many irreconcilable differences that I excused and explained his disinterest in his wife. When I look back I laugh because he lost interest in me as soon as he put a ring to my finger. Stark reality I had to face. Probably I needed to breathe.

After a few more days of him not talking to me and me praying that he does, he talked.Goodness!You should have seen me hop from my mattress on the floor in a studio apartment in the outskirts of Thika town to my phone which lay on the old wooden floor charging.

The message was however to ask for more money. He called me so many sweet things and said how he’d never know what to do without me.By the way why do people like that line? Can’t y’all see it is a joke? That notwithstanding, our sick relationship of I-am-broke-send-me-money-I-love-you continued for a few more weeks. If I had no cash I would get gas lighted and told how horrible I was for leaving.

If I dared tell him exactly why I left he would dismiss it by telling me he was broke and needed to be busy looking for money not listening to my petty things. He would remind me I am his wife and that was enough for me to know I was important to him. I thought I was going mad.

Why I sent cash despite sinking deeper and deeper in debts? Because I wanted his attention. His birdy, fleeting attention. I had no idea I was actually helping raise his child with another girl.

I thrive in open communication and it was hard to mother this thirty something old boy. It was challenging to have an adult conversation. Not once did he address the elephant in the room.  I wanted was him to say he knew what was wrong and was willing to discuss it finally. But he couldn’t. He was socially sick and I was his hospital. The hospital.

I had tried so many times to sit his fine bum down and discuss our glaring differences. I remember this evening I was dog-tired from a 72-hour shift. It was a boring Sunday just like any other day since I said I DID. I had been at school on Thursday, working at night, Friday at school, work at night and Saturday at work in another place.

I am a nurse and nurses must eat. That may or may not involve crazy shifts in the name of some extra coin. Why I had to do that? Story for another day.

Where were we?

So I asked him to meet at our favorite (turns out it was his favorite) place along Kiambu road. Now here is a knackered girl who’d want nothing besides sleeping but she’s such a dedicated Proverbs 31 girl that she feels her marriage should come first. Remember my story of seeking counseling? He is the reason I sought help. I wanted to be a better wife for him. I wanted to solve my anger issues and murderous rage. I really wanted to be better, or so I thought. We were to meet at 4 p.m. since he had gone to church.

Dude was a wonderful youth leader or something like that in his, sorry, our church. I was this close to becoming a pastor’s wife. Never mind we met at a not so Jesus-friendly place.

Long story short, he showed up at 1037pm drunk and smelling like he had been marinated in a tub of exotic perfume. In another world, I could have asked for the contacts of the girls. For the perfume’s sake you know. I love smelling like midsummer afternoon. The lucky angels had even left me a few lipstick smudges on his tweed jacket as evidence. Girls can be so thoughtful!

After a few more days of hoping and waiting. After a few more sunrises of fearful premonitions, I made the mistake of telling him we needed to discuss our marriage. I sent an unnecessary paragraph complete with references arguing my point of why I wanted us to work things out but I first needed him to realize what was ailing us. After a daylong pensive wait, he replied.

Wait for it….

“Send me fare and I will come.”

My countrymen and women, daughters and sons of my forefathers, you people of the clan that I come from, how did we get here? It suddenly became crystal clear, all the jigsaw puzzle pieces finally fit!

He never loved me or wanted me and he was very elated that I left. My world couldn’t have been more calamitous. Me leaving was a blessing in disguise. All the horrors he took me through in the short time we were together was geared towards this moment. This was the hilt of mission accomplishment. This, friends of God, was betrayal on steroids.

I suddenly snapped and told him it was fine if he did not think we were important. Just like the sick narcissist he was, he asked me if he thought I was unimportant when he took me down the aisle.Man, I felt gas-lighted and a little hateful towards myself. He was not going to discuss the marriage and I had two options; either go back and persevere because happy are the meek because they will inherit the earth; or realize my value as a person and gently close the door. I slammed it shut though.

I am not famous for sticking to the plans I make.

That was the most trying period of my dramatic life. I hated myself. I ate, then starved myself, then ate. I worked too like crazy until I got afraid I could drop down dead. There are days I shut myself in the tiny house on my occasional one day off and cried myself to sleep, then cried to wake up then cried to fall asleep and the cycle continued.

I wanted to know what was wrong with me.I remembered my hours of counseling and the pieces of wood in my eyes started dropping one after the other. No longer could he manipulate me to going back. He had tried it.He was actually VERY good at guilt-tripping me.My therapists could not understand why I stood him. Why I even replied to his messages.

This is where I tell you that I have no idea. That is as motivational as I will get on this one.

I neglected myself too. Wasn’t it for my job, I did not think I had a reason to wake up every morning.

I prayed for death too. I wanted to die but I knew if I tried suicide for the third time, it might actually go through and I could die. Maybe because I had learnt new and quicker medications to stop a heart in school. By the way who thought taking me to nursing school was a brilliant idea? I will be back…

Maybe, but maybe because just like a child who can’t really blow out one candle on his birthday cake, there was a flicker of hope in me that refused to be snuffed out. This solitary star that looked as if it was to be swallowed up by the sulky clouds but it defiantly maintained its shine. Refusing to leave, Daring the clouds to do their worst. One of my friends lived in Thika town and knew the hell I was going through. I remember many dark dawns and even darker twilights where she would bang on my door to make sure I was at least out of bed.

Evenings she would come and sit on my microscopic couch and simply look at me until I was brave enough to get out of my makeshift bed

Yet he still sent text messages, yet I still replied with apologies. I have no idea what I kept apologizing for. I badly wanted to go back on some days.

That is what I like telling people, a victim of abuse has no idea why they get attached to their abusers. I no longer ask why people don’t just walk out of abusive relationships. I do not ask. I mean, you may expect me to be strong having undergone counseling and stuff but I was a beautiful mess of wet tissues.

That was a whole paragraph of motivational speech. I swear I am getting good at this.Hehe.

If there is a time I needed a friend, it was that time. I took up another hobby too. Writing. I wrote sunshine-filled posts on Facebook while balancing another rivulet of tears. I cracked jokes. I sent friend requests, I encouraged people. I listened to strangers. I held peoples’ hands. I became the Empress of rainbows and light. Yet I wanted the pain to stop so so bad. I longed for days without tears. Yet in my darkness, I became a light. That sentence is cute. Go ahead, quote me.Ha ha.

There is nothing as hurtful as building then watch what you build crumble right in front of your eyes as if hit by a Tsunami.

I realized I was not a great girl. But I was good. I was not perfect. But I was enough. Enough for me. Enough to heal me. Enough to be strong again. Enough to say goodbye. Enough for the surprises the future held and most significantly, enough to withstand the shame of a marriage that ended as soon as it begun. I wasn’t as good as I thought. I just became good at feeling bad.

When I did, I filed for divorce and even then, I had to face the magistrate all by myself because my loving husband couldn’t be bothered with such trivialities. But he could afford a few insults to keep me going. I had to relive the horrors of my few months to the court as I shook and trembled from the ice inside my soul. Every ground for divorce, a hot knife into my chest.

 Time, they say makes you forget the pain. No, time makes you forget something else—love. Time obscures what love is and what it is not. Time makes you tired of small talk. Time makes you focused as if you are a man on an impossible mission. Time, friends is not a healer of wounds, it reopens healing ones. But like the phoenix that we are, we stare at the open wounds and know that scar tissue will form again if we wrap it up. We get afraid and do it anyway. We are scared but do something anyway.


When you say it, it stops being as dangerous as it sounded in your head.

#TeamPhoenix,these past few weeks have seen me tackle a little about acute kidney injury. I want us to have a look however at hemodialysis.This is what is common in Kenya and maybe what we are used to.

There is an aspect of care I want to delve into–The families of the patient. I wonder who takes care of them. Let me expound.End stage renal disease means that we are staring at end of life.It takes a toll on any family.

Taking care of a patient is tasking. Even more demanding is a patient with a terminal illness. The reality of renal disease,however,is that progression can be deterred if we actively engage kidney replacement therapies. Hemodialysis is more often than not where our people start.

The National Kidney Foundation Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (NKF KDOQI) recommends preemptive kidney transplantation for suitable patients. See,that is not possible in Kenya. I would hate to write for you things here which I know that you will most likely not see be practiced. Unless you have some serious cash flow.Cash flow for majority of our people is not anywhere near serious. If anything,like a pendulum,income keeps swinging to the poverty line and back under.

What that body of regulators say is that as soon as we diagnose end stage renal disease, a kidney transplant should occur without having to go through dialysis. Do you understand it now? That is common in First world countries.

Ideally, patients should dialyse thrice a week. Due to the intimidating cost and general limitations of resources, patients in Kenya dialyse twice weekly. That is unless in special circumstances where we dialyse them thrice weekly or more frequent depending on the condition. All factors constant, however, chronic hemodialysis occurs twice weekly.

We are yet to get to a point of accessible renal units in every village and town. This means patients travel far and beyond their county borders in search of dialysis–a lifesaving treatment.

More often than not, a family member must accompany them to the unit. That means not only one person, but two (sometimes three or four) will have to be divorced from their daily duties to visit the renal unit. Dialysis is not only time consuming but emotionally and spiritually exhausting.

Once Rosie asked me why we had no family support center in our renal unit. Rosie is a daughter to one of our patients. She went ahead to share with me deep concerns which she feels could be addressed in such a centre.

I thought about the other patients and their families. I realized they all underwent similar agony!

1 ) Time management

That someone must stop their activities to attend to one person perpetually is draining. Carers suffer from burnout and they may come off as aggressive if we the healthcare workers do not pay attention. Dialysis costs money and time is money. This is especially felt for patients who are old, children or too weak to go to the renal unit by themselves.

#TeamPhoenix, that is why I advocate for talking sessions. Identify a staff you can discuss the whole challenge of time management with. Nobody should guilt-trip you for feeling like you spend a lot of time on one person.

You should not feel guilty for wanting time off. Believe you me we all need time out. Your wanting to take a break from caring should not be misconstrued for neglect. Not by you or anyone else. It does not matter if the patient is your spouse, parent or child, it gets deeply draining. Take a break. Rest. Allow others to take care of your patient even if it is for a day or two. Let them be taken to the renal unit by someone else .That allows you time to rejuvenate and catch up with other things. Manage your time by letting others help. Ask for help too if none offers it readily.

2)Fear of the unknown

Dialysis takes four hours if everything runs smoothly. However machines fail (they are ALWAYS failing in the unit I work at), emergencies happen, vascular access fails and generally complications occur. What started out as a straightforward procedure becomes life threatening and you can’t help but feel confused. If nobody is offering any explanation, you are constantly on edge. In some cases, your loved one wastes away on your very sight and you are unsure of the effectiveness of dialysis.

A nagging uncertainty stares at you like a looming mount and dares you to climb. Lack of a solid plan for kidney transplant make it even worse.

Breathe. Just breathe. Done? Let us talk. In the simplest of that sentence, let us talk. Knowing a disease and its progress and what to look out for as a carer helps you take an active role in management of the patient.

Involve your renal nurse, renal counselor or nephrologist in charge of your patient. Talk about it. Share your fears. You might be surprised that whatever you are so antsy about has the simplest of explanations. I like informing relatives that no two patients are alike. Refrain from using one patient’s experience and expecting it to apply to whoever you are taking care of. You will really mess it up and interfere with the management.

By the way that explains why people keep moving from one specialist to another and another. There is something they want to hear and they are hoping the next consultant will say it. Medical nomads. Information pastoralists.


The typical renal diet is a mix and match of carefully selected foods. Now, from a family that can barely afford three daily meals, how do we expect them to afford special food preparation? Potassium, Phosphorous, Sodium and strict fluid restrictions make most foods off the menu of a renal patient. If they remain, they require extra preparation and the cost of fuel. If there is nobody to help, or they can’t do it themselves, renal patients end up eating the same diet as people with healthy kidneys.

That results in acute complications of high potassium levels and fluid overload in the lungs. It is vital to have a chat with a renal nutritionist. Please note the difference. Not your day to day nutritionist. We need a renal dietician or nutritionist. That is because they have extensive know-how in our local cuisine and will advise on what to eat and how to prepare it.

All renal units should have a renal nutritionist or dietician. These professionals are integral players in the renal team. Without them we work in futility.

4) Cost

National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) has made great strides in ensuring renal patients get twice weekly chronic hemodialysis. However, the cost of serial imaging and blood tests still remain uncatered for by NHIF. This has increased the cost of hemodialysis. Furthermore, the fact that NHIF does not pay for anti-rejection medication post transplant is a factor that makes many of our people shy away from transplant.

Before introduction of a dialysis package in NHIF, many passed away for lack of funds to pay for the life-saving treatment. I believe more can be done if we are to achieve excellent health of the renal patients.

The above are just a few things carers battle with in the journey of taking care of a patient on dialysis. We need to talk about it and help them because they can not do this alone. If indeed it takes a village to raise a child, surely it must take the same to heal one?

As always, feel free to contact me here or elsewhere for any of these or other concerns you have as a carer. Talking is always the first step towards a solution. We are grateful for the dedicated work you do of taking care of our patients.

It has been a pleasure having you.



A good slow run is better than a bad stand.

Two Secondary Schools sent me an admission letter after my Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE). Karoti Girls’ High School and Ngiriambu Girls.I loved them.I had seen them perform at the music festivals when I was at Rukanga Primary School in Mwea Division,Kirinyaga county. The students were so confident.They spoke English and Swahili.Two languages that I adored. Especially English.How could they speak English in English? I had all along believed English was Kikuyu with an ‘s’!

I wanted to be them.Those girls with chests strapped in traditional brassiere.Those girls with hips wide as the river ocean. Hips that shook and gyrated to the beats of the African drums as the adjudicators nodded their heads in judgement.Those girls with skin smoother than pebbles.Oh how I wanted to be them!

I do not even know how to properly direct you to my primary school.They dissected our pishori-producing division into West and East and I have no idea where my ancestral home should be. All I know is on an earth-road towards Boto area in Rukanga Village,my placenta was buried. I was born by the roadside.

I have a point stop rolling your eyes. If I do not tell you,my mother and father will tell you so as to embarrass me and have a good laugh about it. So I have beaten them to it. Take that parents! here is where I smile…

My village does not produce rice.We are not near the irrigation schemes.We therefore planted other things and slyly,like hungry foxes, produced another product;chang’aa. We were good with that stuff. Not not us as in my mum and dad,no. Us as in the villagers. My father’s brother for example was a connoisseur. Dad worked in the big city of Nairobi as mum hopped from one shamba to the next breaking her back through tilling people’s lands for a little money.

She threatened to divorce Papa if he let her brew Chang’aa. I think that is how we were spared. Women and threats! lol.

My sister and I perfected the art of rice farming by walking about ten kilometers to Mwea Tebere irrigation schemes to weed the rice farms. Or plant in the bilharzia-infested flooded farms or to harvest with sickles during school holidays for a nickel and a dime.

Dad had a vision taller than his legs. The vision was to rescue his daughters from the prospects of an early marriage and ultimate chang’aa large scale production to offer them a better chance in life.

Karoti and Ngiriambu,though I really wanted to be there,were unaffordable to my poorer-than-the-poor parents. Dad brought us to Soweto,Kayole where we joined Bahati Community Centre Secondary School with only 200 shillings that dad could afford for registration.

I received an admission letter to pursue my Honor’s degree at a local university in the recent past. It is a bittersweet feeling. Most girls and boys my age are done with their Masters. I am pursuing my first degree. It is funny because others have told me I have done well but if you are an education junkie like me you must surely know the ouch feeling.

True heroism I believe comes from gulping pain and making sure that others do not experience it. I do not want students to be as confused and clueless as I was when I joined and left high school. I want to give opportunities to them. Better than I had.

When Affecto was born and fronted to me,I knew I will always be a part of it. This foundation is doing what most of us would like to do but lack the means to–help a student in school.

As a beneficiary of sponsorship in my Nursing Education,I know it is painful to have your school fees paid yet you have no money to do any shopping. Also to be able to focus while you are certain that your siblings, Mom and Dad do not even have a meal for the night. That is where many lose it. Affecto has sealed this loophole by ensuring that a student’s personal needs are addressed as well as their tuition fee.

Affecto flys on the wings of the all giving Kenyan spirit. I have tried to hold a neighbor’s child through high school by myself and I failed miserably. That is because I did it from my own salary which can barely suffice my own needs. That plus the many bills I keep paying for different purposes. My story is actually a replica of your story and many others who are willing to help but do not know if the little they have can even cover themselves leave alone others.

This initiative borne out of necessity promises to join all our little and big contributions towards a complete financial grooming of at least one student through high school.

Having attended a mentorship day at Karima Girls where two students are Affecto stars,I couldn’t help but feel a little envious of them. I mean,if only I had had a chance to attend such a prestigious school..if only I had had someone to hold my hand through the schools I had qualified for..I remember emphasizing to the students that they were thoroughly blessed to be where they were. I looked at Ndung’u Nyoro (The brain behind Affecto) again and wondered where he was when I was desperate for high school.

I smiled knowing that at least,many girls and boys in my shoes won’t have to take long detours towards their dreams. The challenge of a full sponsorship are as many as the stars in the sky.

Affecto has hit icebergs that have threatened to tear the ship into pieces of precariously hanging screws and wood. This explains the gala that has been planned at the exquisite Villa Rosa Kempinski on 22nd November 2019.

Not money,not favors,just give me an education.

That is why I plan to attend the gala. That is why I will spare 5,000kshs to go have dinner at Kempinski. Who knows,I might even eat from the same place that President Barack Obama ate from. I may even feel like I have made it in life for that one night. That plus take selfies and strike a few poses to brag about.

Villa Rosa Kempinski will have the coolest spot in heaven with their own Garden of Eden. They will host all parties in heaven with waitresses as gorgeous as Vashti and waiters as muscular as Goliath but with the hearts of King David . The choir of heaven will practice their oohs and aahs at the coffee garden of Villa Rosa Kempinski. A restaurant that offers its presidential services for 5,000kshs to common Kenyans like myself must surely be written in the book of life,right?

I will even go to Gikomba market in advance and get myself a camera-camera dress and some chunky heels to don that evening. Kariokor market and Dubois Street will see me buying cheap accessories to compliment my look. Njeri wa salon will have a field day that afternoon making sure I look like I stepped from the moon. I might even comb my hair,who knows.Ha ha. You better run away from your social media accounts because 22nd November 2019 is the day I ruin your online lives with pride.

We are not depending on outsiders to come and save us. We will start saving ourselves and whoever joins us is a major bonus.

So folks,cheers to influencing care,right?