By Cathryn Lien, Features Editor
On the morning of Monday, Oct. 2, Visionary class member Kara Aukerman visited Asbury’s Health Clinic after a series of sleepless nights due to intense headaches and nausea. Her blood pressure read “sky-high,” and tests were ordered to discover the cause of her acute migraine-like symptoms.
“They called me out of chapel to tell me that I was to go to the emergency room immediately, saying I was both very anemic, and my kidneys were not working well at all.”
Before Stage 5 Renal Failure forced her to withdraw from school, Aukerman studied communications and history, served as historian and publicist on class cabinet and worked as a TAG leader.
From Shelbyville, Indiana, Aukerman has deep-rooted family connections to Asbury University. It’s the place her parents met and married and where three of her ten siblings graduated.
“When it came time for me to do an official campus visit, I stepped on campus and it felt like home.”
Though she had episodes of pain and nausea symptoms over the summer, Aukerman said, “I noticed symptoms as far back as July, but I had gone to an immediate care facility to get them checked out and was told that it was nothing to worry about.”
And then her symptoms subsided. She went about her normal life until Sept. 9 when the first migraine hit, one too painful to sleep off.
Nausea and insomnia plagued her the day after. Two weeks later, she endured another similar episode. Six days after that, a third. By the fourth incident, she visited the health clinic and on Oct. 2 was transferred to Baptist Health in Lexington for treatment of kidney failure.
“My mom met me after driving all the way from Indianapolis only to be told that I needed to be transported closer to home for treatment and to be put on a donor list.”
According to Davita Kidney Care, Stage 5 of chronic kidney disease (end stage renal disease) means that a person’s kidneys have stopped functioning effectively. A person with Stage 5 Renal Failure will need a dialysis or a kidney transplant to live.
Migraine-like symptoms are typical for sufferers of chronic kidney disease. The kidneys primarily function to remove waste and fluids from the body. When they shut down, toxins accumulate in the blood. Other functions, like regulating blood pressure, assisting the production of red blood cells and activating vitamin D for healthy bones, also stop.
Doctors believe Aukerman has had chronic kidney failure for more than ten years without catching it. She recently underwent surgery to implant a catheter for her dialysis, a temporary treatment that filters blood in the absence of working kidneys.
“Lord willing, the only other surgery I’ll have is when I get the new kidney transplant.”
Well-wishes and request for prayers fill Aukerman’s Facebook timeline. People send e-mails and text messages to her daily, some from friends and family she has known all her life and some from people who live in China that she’s never met.
Aukerman is grateful for the Asbury community’s love and support. Her professors at Asbury have reached out to her, assuring her that she is in their prayers. A few of her classes sent card and gifts, and all of her friends have checked in to see how her treatment is progressing
“How grief binds us all together is one of Christ’s most precious gifts. I don’t know how I could ever express my gratitude in words for the amount of people we have standing in our corner,” Aukerman said.
She has seen the prayers of her friends and family work miracles in the present.
“All of the doctors are perplexed by my condition because most patients in stage five renal failure are bed-ridden. They can’t even conjure up enough energy to walk a few feet. And yet, I feel completely normal. I am up walking, driving and cleaning.”
Had she not visited the Health Clinic last month, Aukerman’s kidney failure would have remained undetected. She asks for continued prayers that she can continue to heal from the catheter surgery, that dialysis will go as planned and that she can begin the transplant process as soon as possible.
She said she’s thankful God has spared her a great deal of pain and for blessing her with a prayerful support system.
She said, “His love shines through in every small and big victory along this journey.”