Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

My health care crisis

Yessenia Gutiérrez
Miami, Florida, United States

Fistula in arm used for dialysis prior to kidney transplant
Fistula in arm for Dialysis. Photo by Yessenia Gutierrez.

“Mom, will it hurt?” These were the first words that came out of my mouth the day after my kidneys stopped working. The day after I found out that I had kidney failure and had to get a fistula in my arm for dialysis. I was very afraid because I had heard that the needles hurt.

I went through a lot during the year 2016. I became obsessed with my weight. I wanted to have a more attractive body, so I started exercising and skipping meals. I began to eat less and lose weight. Before I knew it, I was underweight and was taken off the waiting list for organ transplants. I had to get a feeding tube because I was not eating at home. I was anemic. I lost my hair. I ended up feeling depressed. I did not want to leave my room.

My doctor came to talk to me. He said that he could not help me if I did not help myself. He told me to get up and eat. He told me to get up and walk. He motivated me to get out of bed and fight. He gave me his word to visit me in the hospital once I received my kidney and liver transplants. He helped me recover.

I began to regain the weight I needed to get back on the waiting list for organ transplants, and I needed to get back on that list fast. So my doctor prescribed a pill that increased my appetite. He spoke to the manager of the hospital cafeteria to bring me whatever kind of food I wanted. He also spoke to the people at the hospital to make me a priority on the organ transplant list. When my hands and knees began to swell, he arranged for a rheumatologist to examine me and take some fluid from my knee.

They did a lot of tests but they did not show anything. Everything was fine. They even sent samples of the fluid to different doctors, but no one had answers, and we never really found out what caused the swelling.

If it were not for my doctor’s care and support, I would not have had my kidney and liver transplants. I will be forever grateful to everyone who helped me recover.

YESSENIA GUTIERREZ was born with poly-cystic kidney disease and since then has been trying to find a good kidney. She is also a liver recipient. What keeps Yessenia motivated throughout the struggles is writing. Writing is her life, it is her passion. She loves to read and dance too. She graduated from high school but has not been able to attend college due to health problems. She has one book published in Spanish on Amazon.

Summer 2021



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