Courage, Love & Hope: LIVING!! on Dialysis


Jun 19, 2023

Courage, Love & Hope: LIVING!! on Dialysis

Holding onto Hope: Christina Gilchrist's Inspiring Journey Through Kidney Disease, Parenthood, and Love

At the tender age of twelve, a routine sports physical revealed the first ripples of a turbulent medical journey for Christina Gilchrist. These ripples would grow into crashing waves as she faced severe obstacles such as kidney failure, seizures, and the permanent loss of eyesight. However, through these testing tides, Christina held onto the lifeline of hope, found the anchor of love, and charted a course towards a purpose-driven life in ways she never imagined.

When protein was discovered in Christina's urine, it set off the alarm bells of nephritis, a group of diseases damaging the kidney's ability to filter blood.

"My doctor couldn't identify the exact type of nephritis I had but assured it was mild and something to worry about only in my later years," she shared. "In hindsight, I wish I had known about preventive measures like diet modifications to slow down my kidney disease."

The saga of her health challenges escalated at the age of 22 when she experienced a pregnancy fraught with complications, including preeclampsia. The severe high blood pressure, a rare occurrence, wreaked havoc on her eyes, inducing seizures, and precipitating a steep decline in her kidney health.

"The seizures caused me to lose my eyesight and my kidneys shortly after giving birth,"

Christina revealed, her voice filled with the echoes of her trials. Her baby girl, born prematurely with life-threatening complications, had to undergo three critical surgeries.

Rooted in her hospital bed, Christina grappled with her own medical crises while consumed with worry for her newborn. "Being blind and unsure about my daughter's condition was a living nightmare," she shared. The darkness in her life deepened as she lost her job, couldn't drive, and ended up battling for the custody of her daughter. However, with her unyielding spirit and the unwavering support of her parents, she reclaimed custody and began rebuilding her life.

As the phoenix rises from the ashes, so too did Christina. Her family, a strong fortress of eight siblings, rallied around her, offering her the strength she needed. Her big brother, a perfect kidney match, gifted her with a new lease on life by donating his kidney. The joy was short-lived, as a year and a half later, her body began rejecting the transplanted kidney.

The next five years, Christina admitted, were the hardest. On in-center hemodialysis, she juggled the tasks of being a single mother and dealing with her health issues. It was a constant struggle, but she pressed on for her daughter. Yet, hope shimmered on the horizon in 2016 when a second kidney became available for her.

With her health improving, Christina allowed love to chart its course in her life. A man named Michael reached out to her on Facebook. He was smitten by Christina's unwavering dedication to her daughter. As they navigated the waters of love, Christina's second transplant began to fail.

Despite this setback, Christina was not ready to give up the life she had begun to rebuild. She began exploring the possibility of peritoneal dialysis (PD). In the meantime, the lovebirds got engaged, got married, and embarked on the journey of wedded life.

The couple, anticipating the likely rejection of the PD catheter, began researching home hemodialysis. "We poured our hearts and souls into this, and on Christmas Eve 2021, we conducted the first home dialysis treatment. It was an incredible moment," Christina shared. They have since transitioned to nocturnal hemodialysis, allowing them more flexibility to enjoy life.

As Michael encapsulates it, "My role as a caregiver is to bring joy into Christina's life. To show others that life doesn't stop with dialysis; it simply requires careful planning and effective execution."

Their love story, rich in trials and triumphs, gave birth to a powerful partnership. "We fell deeply in love, and when he became my care partner, our relationship deepened to a level I never thought possible," Christina confessed. "I trust this man with my life. We've truly become partners, and I no longer feel alone."

Christina and Michael now use their experiences to support others navigating similar waters. They run an online support group and a podcast, sharing insights on living a fulfilling life while on dialysis, and advocating for kidney health. "My mantra is simple," Christina shares with a smile, "I don't live to do dialysis. I do dialysis to live." Their journey, a testament to resilience and love, inspires many to become advocates for kidney patients.

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About the Author

Rich Foreman brings over 30 years of technology leadership to his role of CEO and Co-Founder of KidneySoft.  As founding CTO, Rich led the team that developed the CordicoShield / CordicoFire Wellness App. Cordico was honored with the Sacramento Innovation Award in 2021. After achieving a 7 digit ARR, Cordico was acquired by Lexipol in 2020. Rich has a BS in Industrial Engineering from the University of Washington, an MPA from Troy State University and was an officer in the U.S. Navy. Rich co-authored his book, "Tap into the Mobile Economy." Rich's blog was listed in Top 20 Marketing Mobile Blogs of 2014. He has been featured on KCRA3, NEWS10, 1170 Tech AM PowerDrive, Business Radio Money 105.5, SiliconIndia, the Sacramento Business Journal, and the Sacramento Bee. Rich is also the Founding Director of the Sacramento Chapter of Startup Grind and served a term as Utility Commissioner for the City of Folsom. Rich is a regular contributor to and StartupSac. Rich was the Co-founder of Apptology which was named Small Business of the Year in 2014 by the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber. He was also the Founding Chief Technology Officer at Cordico. Cordico was acquired by Lexipol in 2020.  Rich also served 4 years as a Naval Officer in the Civil Engineer Corps.

Patient Education Disclaimer

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not replace the advice or counsel of a doctor or health care professional. KidneyLuv makes every effort to provide information that is accurate and timely, but makes no guarantee in this regard. You should consult with, and rely only on the advice of, your physician or health care professional.

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