Helena Garvao began Hemodialysis in 1974 and is still a Dialysis patient up to the present day without interruption. However, over the course of her 44-years conducting Dialysis, Helena has found a way to overcome her challenges and turbulence she faced to improve her life and live on her terms regardless of limitations. The following are some tips and insights she has generously shared.
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"It was as if they had taken the floor from under my feet!" Helena said when she had to stop her rhythmic sports gymnastics at the early age of 12-years-old to start Dialysis. By age 13, the long-time Dialysis patient began experiencing deformities in the knees and spine. She has never been able to receive a Kidney Transplant as a result of "severe respiratory restriction" due to Kyphoscoliosis (deformity of the spine characterized by abnormal curvature).
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Even with her health conditions and limitations, Helena completed her Undergraduate (Languages) at age 21, Master's (Linguistics) at age 31, and Ph.D. (Portuguese Literature) at age 47. After enjoying a 30-year career as a Portuguese and French teacher she is now retired and offers the following insights for ways that Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients may also consider to live life on their terms:
- The Rational Diet - Helena noted that "I haven't followed a strict diet," but instead she eats everything in a "rational way, always listening to what my body says."
- Sleep - Helena sleeps for about 6 to 7 hours a night and she enjoys going to bed late.
- A Glass Of Wine - The veteran Dialysis patient said that, "I do not smoke and I only drink a little wine with meals." This may be tempting for many patients. However, in an abundance of caution, it is best to discuss drinking wine or any alcoholic beverage with your Healthcare Team to determine what works best for your personal lifestyle.
- Getting Outside - A sportsman at heart, Helena cannot do physical exercise, but in the spring and summer, she enjoys going on hikes in her electric wheelchair which provides her more freedom.
- Her greatest advice - The greatest advice that Helena said that she could give to Dialysis patients is "knowing and being attentive to the signs of your body." While it is important to listen to your Nephrologists, the 44-year Dialysis survivor stated that a Dialysis patient's body "is your best advisor."
Helena attributes family encouragement and support to her success. She also suggested that patients will be met with turbulent times, physical obstacles, and fear, but with courage and support, they can overcome their challenges.
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Click here to read Helena Garvao's full story in her own words. Share Helena's story with at least one other Chronic Kidney Disease and/or Dialysis patient to offer hope and inspiration.
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