I am here in a desperate attempt to help one of the most incredible girls I have ever met, she is a pure spirited and truly compassionate young woman , always doing what she can for those she loves no matter the cost, and now it is time for her to get the help she deserves. The girl I refer to is my best friend, and my love, Janine Vitales.
It all started 3 months ago when Janine started to display symptoms that progressively got worse over the course of 3 weeks, she was dizzy or had head headaches most of the time, was weak and tired, often sleeping most of the day. She went to 2 different doctors and was sent home both times despite her prolonged and worsening symptoms. After being sent home 2 times with out any interest from the doctors, we called and specifically requested a blood test. When we arrived home from having the blood test, Janine was unable to walk up the stairs to our apartment, this is when I made the decision to bring her to the emergency. 3 hours later the emergency doctor informs us that her kidneys are not functioning normally. Her hemoglobin was drastically low and her body was on the verge of shutting down. At this point they told us she would need to stay the night and that they needed to give her a blood tranfusion right away. The fear that something was very seriosuly wrong began to set in. One very long night later and we were told she had kidney failure but that the degree and whether it was chronic or acute was unknown. She was then transfered to VGH where we spent the next 10 days in the acute care ward. Words can't describe what she went through during this time, and the emotional roller coaster of hope followed by disappointment she had to endure.
During her 10 days at VGH, Janine had to endure immense pain and discomfort, hours after arriving she had to have an emergency central venous catheter (CVC) surgically implanted into her chest going directly into her heart for dialysis as her toxins were still dangerously high. She was imobile by this point, unable to walk or even get out of the hospital bed alone. The head doctor on the team of kidney specialists informed us that he was leaning towards chronic kidney failure which would most likely result in the kidney not being able to fully heal if at all, but that there was still a chance for it to be acute, meaning it could be treated. In order to confirm this they had to perform an emergency kidney biopsy despite her inherit risk of internal bleeding due to her high blood pressure. After a couple more agonizing days of waiting to find out the results, the head doctor came to see us. Unfortunately the results came back as we had feared, in one minute her life was drastically changed for ever. The doctor told her the results were not good, that she has IGA Nephropathy (complete kidney failure) and that her kidneys were only functioning at about 1%, which meant she would have to remain on dialysis for the rest of her life or until she got a transplant. Despite such devastating news Janine has been an inspirition, her ability to look at the postitive is remarkable.
She is now on a life support system known as dialysis which she has every monday, wednesday and friday. This treatment is very hard on the body, and as a result leaves the patient often very uncomfortable and with very little energy. She has discomfort and pain to some degree each day and has to walk slow and very limited distances, leaving her feeling very helpless and confined. Janine had just started her schooling at Blanche McDonald to follow her dream of becoming a make up artist this year and was working full time at Cactus Club when this happened. She has had no choice but to drop out of school and to quit her job as she simply does not have the physical capabilities to do so and has dialysis 3 times per week. As you can imagine this has all been very devastating and very hard on her both physically and mentally. Janine is waiting to find out if her mother is a match for a kidney transplant but even if she is it can't be done until 3 months from now at the earliest, followed by substantial rehabilitation before she will be ready to work and try to live a normal life again. We are very grateful for this possibility however as some people wait for 5 or more years for a transplant. We really hope her mom is a match otherwise she will need to get surgery for long term dialysis treatment.
So here is her problem financially. The system has completely let her down. She applied for disability but they said it will take months so she applied for welfare, a process that has turned into a complete nightmare. To make a very long story of ups and downs dealing with the provincial government short, she finally recieved a call yesterday and was told she is not eligible for assistance due to her lack of hours in the work force. This is a major flaw in the system, basically if you are no longer a minor and have no guardian to support you, but have not been in the work force long enough you simply will not be helped. Further more we were told that if she can not qualify for welfare she can't qualify for disability leaving her with no money for rent, food, or living for the foreseeable future. We have tried other avenues to no avail. This has been beyond frustrating and has made us lose all hope in the system. Her mom has been helping as much as she can but is already helping support her sister and her family and is unable to continue to support Janine. Fortunately I had some small savings for school and travel we have been able to fall back on but even working full time with one job and part time with another I am spending my savings and will run out soon. We don't know what to do, I can't afford to support both of us and we have been let down by the government, this is the last thing I could think of to try. Janine at best will have a transplant in 3 months and will need another few months to rehabilitate. Worst case scenario, her mother is not a compatible donor and she is put on the waiting list which could take years. She has rent, insurance for her car to get to and from dialysis, food and bills, all of which she has no money for. I am asking help from anyone who is in a position to do so, no amount of money can replace the freedom and health she has lost, but it can help her keep a roof over her head, and food in her stomach until she is able to get a transplant or until she is transitioned into long term dialysis and becomes healthy enough to return to part time work. Even then she had to drop out of school and has no credentials so finding work she will be capable of doing and that is more than our ridiculously low minimum wage will be very diffucult. We are taking it one day at a time and she is staying as positive as she can although she definitely gets overwhelmed some days. She can use all the support and good energy she can get, so positive vibes and kind words would be just as nice as donations in its own way! She is only 20, kidney disease is relatively rare, especially in someone this young, so if anyone out there is going through the same thing, we would love to hear from you, it would be nice to have someone to talk to who understands what she is going through. Thank you for your time reading this, god bless and happy holidays! One love.
- Shelby Mckinley
- Boriz Safi
- Andrew Brough