My name is Carol-Ann. This is how the Alive to Strive fitness grant program has touched me.
When I was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2012, my energy level and physical condition were so poor I could not walk from the Ottawa Senators parking lot to the entrance of my beloved team’s arena door. Kidney failure followed in 2013 due to pneumonia and the influenza virus. I started emergency hemodialysis at the General Campus of the Ottawa Hospital in February. By the time I was released, I was 50 pounds lighter due to the removal of the body fluid my kidneys could no longer filter.
Although hemodialysis was life-saving, the process took its own toll, leaving me anemic and weak from the low blood pressure inherent in the process. It was not until the miracle of Peritoneal (PT) Home dialysis in September of 2013 that I had any hope of a return to independence and wellbeing. Once I was stable on the PT regimen, the home dialysis social worker talked to me about an exciting program called Alive to Strive.
The program offered an opportunity to begin guided, regular exercise. I qualified to receive personal training sessions and a gym membership in January of 2014. Marie-Eve Chainey met with the trainer to ensure that he understood my limitations and could design a suitable personalized workout. She shared her considerable experience and provided online reference material, both of which proved very valuable to both my trainer and I. My trainer worked with me for 8 weeks, gradually increasing my activity level and general level of fitness. After the sessions with the personal trainer were completed, I continued on my own at the gym three times per week.
The call came for a paired exchange transplant opportunity in December of 2014. My physical condition virtually guaranteed my acceptance for and recovery from the transplant. I received my new kidney on December 11, 2014. This amazing gift was made possible by my dear sweet sister, Marilyn. She was not directly compatible with me, so she and her husband Steve flew to Vancouver to make her donation to a recipient there. Her donation allowed me to receive a kidney from a compatible donor, who in turn traveled to Ottawa from parts East. I will be forever in their debt…
On the three month anniversary of the transplant, I am back at the gym walking 4 to 5 miles several times per week, getting back to my former fitness level. I am learning to cross country ski, and have been skating on the canal. The financial, and more importantly, the moral support provided by the Alive to Strive fitness grant program has made an incredible difference in my quality of life, both before and now after the transplant. It was an enabler for a better physical and mental life.
I need to acknowledge the love and support of my family on this journey, without which I would never have survived. In particular the love and attention of my husband has kept me from those dark places where prolonged illness can lead. He kept and continues to keep the sun shining on my face and my spirit! I am so blessed to have such an amazing soul mate….
 For information on Paired Exchange Transplant see https://www.blood.ca/sites/default/files/english_ldpe_brochure_general.pdf
Hope to see you there in April!