howard-vincentI am an Anishnabe man and belong to the Lac Seul Band. I have led an interesting life. From 1963 to 1980, I led a street life, alcohol and drugs and all the lovely stuff that entailed. From 1980 to present day, I have been turning my life around, clean and sober, healing from childhood trauma and helping others.

Currently, I am working in the community of Tachet of the Lake Babine Nation, with head office in Burns Lake, BC. My job is providing counselling services in the area of mental health, addictions, grief and loss, historical trauma and be a crisis responder. In my position since 1996, I have experienced many individuals who are dealing with many health issues including Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). A lot of people such as myself need or needed a determined push from health care providers to acknowledge that we are living with a chronic condition and to take this very seriously.

It has been about 5 years that I had some knowledge that something was not normal with my kidneys. My doctor at the time kept telling me that my kidneys were “spitting out protein”. At that time, I thought it was because I was popping too many Tylenol pills for every ache and pain. I did not have any awareness that there was such a thing as kidney disease. Besides, if there was such thing, it only happened to some other unfortunate soul.

When Dr. John my current doctor broke the news to me, two things happened: One is that I went into total denial—I thought he was telling me that I MAY get CKD, if I was not more careful about my diabetes and keeping my sugar levels at acceptable levels; another thing was that I went into shock as he meticulously explained what CKD was and its eventual consequence if I was not serious about my overall health.

My current diagnosis is CKD as a result of my diabetes. My day-to-day life is now having an AWARENESS that I have CKD, and the outcome is still well within my control. The bottom line is that it is up to me to check my sugar levels on a daily basis, keep those sugar levels between the 4 to 8 range, monitor more carefully my diet and regular blood work, get plenty of quality rest.

What has come out of being diagnosed CKD is that I have chosen to participate in the Can-SOLVE CKD initiative as a patient partner. We are a diverse group from across Canada. Our aim is to help to provide the best care with the best treatment possible to people with CKD. I got involved through Dr. John’s encouragement. I have been feeling positive about being part of the work to move forward in improving care for people living with CKD.

In June 2015, I attended my first meeting and my whole world opened up as I heard stories from people with CKD, caregivers who attended to family members, loved ones and others. We were presented with possible research projects, we had an opportunity to ask questions and grade the projects.

Personally, participating in the Can-SOLVE CKD activities so far has been quite a moving experience while living with the serious impact of CKD: I felt inspired and enlightened with a new road to walk on. Being involved in Can-SOLVE CKD is an opportunity to bring an awareness and a message to all who are dealing with CKD, especially the marginalized of our society. They need care, love and knowledge of CKD so they can have a chance to a good life.