Back in 1983, when he was just 30-years-old, Joseph Sawndara Raj found out that he had Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). Diagnosed with Acute Glomerulonephritis (AGN), he was told that his kidneys would gradually lose their ability to dispose waste and excess fluids from his body.
Though the diagnosis was devastating, there was a silver lining. Joseph's CKD had been detected early and he began an immediate treatment plan that included specific medication and a strict diet. The father of three shares, "I was advised by my doctor to control my diet in order to obtain the right amount of nutrients. By adhering to my doctor's advice and complying with my medication plan, I was able to prolong my kidney function for many years before being diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) in 2009."
Joseph is currently on Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD), which involves a machine that assists with his daily exchanges (whereby a soft catheter is inserted through the skin and into the stomach area that allows harmful fluids to be drained) while he sleeps at night. "This is convenient, as I can carry out the exchange in the comfort of my own home. I am also able to carry on with normal routine during the day."
Of course, living with CKD is hard and it has not always been a smooth journey. However, Joseph credits the support of those around him and his own positive spirit in helping him cope with the many challenges he has faced.
Joseph recalls the crucial moment when he learned about his diagnosis. "That same year, I was supposed to get married. I told my wife-to-be that we should call off the wedding. She told me that my disease was fated and we are fated to be married." Love has indeed kept their relationship strong and through thick and thin, his wife remains his pillar of strength. Now, at 63, Joseph can rely on the love of his three children, aged 30, 28 and 23. He is also thankful for the support of his close friends.
Joseph shares a special moment which he treasures to this day. "I went on a camping trip after my diagnosis and I poured out my feelings to a close friend because living with this condition felt like a slow death sentence. My friend advised me to take one day at a time and his advice helped me to live a happy life with my family."
All in all, Joseph is thankful for the blessings bestowed upon him. "My family has always been there for me. They are the ones who have kept me strong and confident when facing life's many challenges." As for his friends, he reveals that, "I still go out with my friends once a week and when we're together, we play a game of cards. I am happy."
Despite being diagnosed with CKD, Joseph ensures that he lives life to the fullest. Previously an Assistant Health Officer at Hospital Raja Perempuan, he is now retiree who devotes his time to gardening. "I enjoy gardening and getting my hands dirty. I first started planting vegetables, followed by flowers, among which are jasmine flowers," he says, with a hint of pride.
What began as a hobby has now grown into an income source. "I collect the vegetables and sell them as a side income. When I am able to sell my own produce, it gives me personal satisfaction, as it clearly shows that I reap what I sow," he says. "When I tend to my plants, I give them individual care and when they flower or bear fruit, the enjoyment is beyond description."
Joseph sees dialysis as a part of his life now. "It is not something to complain about." His message to others diagnosed with kidney disease is, "We should not limit ourselves because of a health condition. We should have the freedom to live and do the things we enjoy most."
hen it comes to CKD, Joseph would like to highlight the importance of early detection. "With early detection, the progression of kidney disease can be slowed. Take my story as an example." As for his parting advice, Joseph's message to all is to also have a healthy lifestyle and go for regular health checks.«back to news & events