She Might Never Walk Again

By on January 15, 2019

Five years ago, Gloria faced a long road to recovery. Her doctors told her she might never walk, drive or live independently again due to health complications. They had considered amputating her legs.

“When the doctors told me that I couldn’t do these things again, it was like fire in my blood,” Gloria said. “I knew right then and there that I was going to work hard to get back to my old self.”

Gloria had experienced kidney failure and needed immediate dialysis, a process in which blood is filtered by a machine and is cleaned of toxins and waste as well as excess fluids, to keep her alive. A person can lose up to 90 percent of their kidney function without even knowing it. Fifteen percent of U.S. adults have chronic kidney disease and most do not experience symptoms until the later stages when damage has already occurred.

The two leading causes of kidney failure are diabetes and hypertension – both of which Gloria had. After 25 years of diabetes treatment, Gloria had learned to manage her food intake, blood pressure and medication, yet she was experiencing new symptoms; her legs began to swell regularly and she felt perpetually exhausted. Her doctors initially chalked it up to depression, but when the fluid in her legs gathered to the point that she could barely walk, she sought a second opinion and learned about chronic kidney disease.

Gloria started receiving regular dialysis treatments at a Fresenius Kidney Care center in Jacksonville, FL. With the help of her care team, which includes a social worker, dietitian, nurse and nephrologist, Gloria gradually began to feel better. In addition to her team at the center, she started seeing a physical therapist multiple times a week.

Gloria’s grandniece, Kyndahl, who was only 4 years old at the time, would visit her while Gloria and her therapist practiced her physical therapy exercises. Kyndahl cheered Gloria on during her exercises. It was Kyndahl’s enthusiastic spirit that encouraged Gloria to challenge herself to get up on her feet again.

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams would echo from the speakers in Gloria’s home as Kyndahl encouraged Gloria to move to the music, first seated in a chair, then eventually Gloria stood and danced to the tune.

“Kyndahl loves to dance, and whenever the physical therapist would leave, she’d make me dance around the house with her,” Gloria said. “She is the reason I’m back to doing everything the doctors said I wouldn’t be able to do again – walk, live alone and drive.”

“Auntie Glo, as we call her, is truly an inspiration to our staff and the patients we treat,” said Fresenius Kidney Care North Jacksonville Renal Dietitian Ruth Mills, RD, LD, CSR. “She never lets anyone tell her that she can’t do something. She perseveres and makes the most out of every hand she’s dealt, which personally resonates with me.”

With support from Kyndahl, Gloria has continued to achieve new feats, most recently writing a book to inspire others living with chronic conditions.

“A child can remind you how beautiful life can be,” Gloria said. “Through this book, I wish to inspire others with health challenges and remind them that young people can influence their elders just as much as older people can influence youth.”

 

Gloria Stephens is a resident of Jacksonville, FL and a dialysis patient at Fresenius Kidney Care North Jacksonville. Gloria’s book, Auntie Glo and the Dancing Machine first published in December 2017 and is available for purchase online

 

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She Might Never Walk Again