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Early detection tests can save lives. Nik Pinchbeck is living proof.

Nik and his wife, Brianna.

By Nik Pinchbeck.

Life is full of ups and downs, always moving like a rollercoaster. Normally the ups and downs don’t happen at the same time, but for me, that’s kind of how it worked out.

My name is Nik. I’m 33 and I have Stage Four Chronic Kidney Disease.

Two years ago, I was three weeks out from my wedding and was out on my bucks night with my friends. After an unfortunate slip on some stairs and a whack of the head, the next morning my fiance, Brianna, and my Dad decided to take me to the emergency room to check for concussion.

Sitting in the ER, I felt dizzy, nauseous, and just horrible all over. They assumed I’d just had a big night out, and left me to wait for a doctor. I knew it wasn’t a normal hangover, or any kind of hangover I’d experienced before, but they had already made up their minds about my condition. As the minutes passed, I was feeling worse and worse. Brianna saw how I was deteriorating and pleaded with the nurse to re-examine me. Luckily, he agreed, and within 5 minutes I was lying on a bed with an IV in my arm.

That afternoon they took routine blood and urine samples, and came to me a little while later to tell me my kidneys were failing. They figured it was acute and scheduled me in to see the renal specialist the next morning. At some point they realised there was something bigger going on, and I was officially admitted to the hospital.

I was in hospital for seven days, with catheters, cannulas and tubes going in and out everywhere. Brianna and I were now two weeks away from our wedding, with no indication as to when I would be released. At some point during those seven days they gave us the full diagnosis. Stage Four Chronic Kidney Disease.

It was a lot to swallow, but we had to keep moving on. I guess with a wedding in two weeks, it kind of gave us something else to focus on so it wasn’t all bad news. So I had a huge, life-changing diagnosis, but very swiftly followed by the most incredible day of my life. Our wedding was beautiful, fun, and followed up by an amazing holiday in Bora Bora. We were so lucky I was diagnosed and released from hospital in time to enjoy it all and be with my beautiful wife.

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“If I hadn’t stumbled on my bucks night, who knows when I might have found out?”

It’s been two years and our lives haven’t changed too much. I try to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle as much as I can, and luckily I’m doing well enough to stay off dialysis. It’s mainly our diet that has changed. It’s unbelievable how much hidden salt there is in a lot of foods. Brianna and I make a lot more dinners from scratch now instead of relying on recipe bases, but it’s taught us a lot about what’s really in a lot of foods.

It’s so weird to think I was only diagnosed because I hit my head. If I hadn’t stumbled on my bucks night, who knows when I might have found out?

When my kidneys had completely failed?

When I had to go straight from the GPs to dialysis, giving up work, Brianna becoming my carer, and my life changing forever?

Early detection is key. All it takes is a simple urine sample to get an indication of how your kidneys are travelling. It’s so simple and straight forward, and completely worth it. Caught early, kidney disease is incredible manageable. I’m proof.

A person can live in stage one or two for years, and manage the condition with a healthy diet and active lifestyle. I’m living that life now, because I got lucky.

Because once you hit the later stages of kidney disease, there’s no going back – you can’t reverse the damage done to your kidneys. So talk to your pharmacist or GP about doing a simple, non-invasive, check and track your kidneys early – it is absolutely worthwhile.

‘Kidney Health Week’ runs from May 25-31. This year, Kidney Health Australia has launched the world-first KidneyCheck Program with Amcal and Guardian pharmacies to allow people to check their urine for protein – one of the first signs of kidney damage – in the privacy of their own home.

Kidney Health Australia is a national health care charity with a vision ‘to save and improve the lives of Australians affected by kidney disease’. As the national peak body, Kidney Health Australia promotes good kidney health through delivery of programs in education, advocacy, research and support.

Head to www.kidney.org.au or free call 1800 454 363 for more information.

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