Pamela is an Atlanta native with over 20 years of experience in real estate and property management. Pamela has had high blood pressure for many years but did not realize the seriousness of it. In 2003, at the age of 41, Pamela was diagnosed with renal failure and had to start dialysis. She waited 19 months and received a transplant in 2006. In 2009, she had to return to dialysis and received her second transplant from a living donor in 2011.
Now, at 54, Pamela reflects on her experience with kidney disease and all she learned along the way. When asked what she wishes people had told her sooner, she quickly mentions diet. She knew that her medical team spoke with her about diet, but she did not realize how important it was until she learned the hard way.
While on dialysis, she had a strong craving for red potatoes. So, she made a pan full and ate them. That night she woke at 2:00 a.m. feeling so sick that she was scared. She called her nurse at dialysis the next day and they explained to her about potassium and the effects high potassium has on your muscles – the most important muscle, of course, being the heart!
Pamela remembered that her father’s heart attack, which he, unfortunately, died from, was caused by high potassium. She realized that although she thought she was taking care of herself in all the right ways, she had to be more mindful of what she was putting in her body. Prior to this incident, Pamela admits, “I literally knew nothing about how my diet could affect my body. My body craved certain foods, but I didn’t realize that food could actually hurt me.”
Pamela is no stranger to the emotional and financial hardships that accompany renal failure. Now that she is living well with her second transplant, she wants nothing more than to act as an advocate for those who suffer from kidney disease, and to educate communities about this devastating disease. Pamela prides herself in being a mentor to others in both the transplant community and her community at large. And she’ll tell anyone she meets with kidney disease about the importance of diet and keeping your entire body – heart and kidneys - healthy.
Learn more about hyperkalemia.