Meet Kenneth. Ken was moving through his life like most of us. In some cases, even better. He developed the early productive belief on to find out “love what you do and figure out someone to pay you to do it.” He was a technician in the theater business for about 25 years, currently at the Broward Center for The Performing Arts. Like many of us, he was in the flow of his routine, without the weight of a burden he was about to carry with him everywhere he would go.
Ken was working an unusually long day at the theater, running a show for close to 17 hours. When Kenneth returned home, he was so drained he couldn’t lift his arms above his head. This was not normal, he thought. He made an appointment and visited his doctor to immediately investigate what was going on. What they found was profound. Kenneth’s kidneys were failing. He needed a kidney transplant.
Ken, the diligent man he is, kept working the job he loved. He would arrive at 5am at the clinic for dialysis and hemodialysis so he could work his full day. In that early shift he met Dr. Cassaretto, one of our doctors. They connected immediately, rooted in a healthy sense of humor and energy for life. They could crack each other up at the drop of the hat. A great ally in such an emotionally draining life experience. Ken had found his doctor, his friend. The feeling was mutual and Dr Cassaretto worked and advocated for Kenneth to get the care he deserved and needed. Ken was floored, he felt the importance of his own life through another. A real gift.
As we all know though, the kidney disease can rear its ugly head in any moment. About a month into dialysis Ken had a rupture in his peritoneal sac. A very dangerous prospect. Dr. Cassaretto and his partner Dr. Parham Eftekhari, worked tirelessly to ensure Ken’s safety. Eventually guiding him out of that existential threat. Ken responded in kind, kickstarting his recovery. Ken credits everyone at the hospital, including the nurses, dietitians, and the social workers. Gratitude overwhelmed his experience, grateful for a doctor that would look him in the eye in every conversation, and be honest. Honest about what he needed from Ken for his recovery to be successful.
Ken is a Stage Four kidney patient. Neither kidney works. He is on a transplant list. These are all things that can send anyone into an emotional spiral. But with gratitude and humor, next to a good doctors, a friend, supporting his recovery, Ken is ready, ready to fight, ready to thrive, ready to live. We are all Ken, and Ken is us.