Her 17-year-old daughter helps out mom and dad when she can. Her two youngest sons, nine and six, kiss their care aide mom on the head before bed and say they wish she didn’t have to be sick.
Miriam Hoekstra wishes that, too. So does her husband, the three kids, her extended family and friends.
Hoekstra, 37, is in dire need of a new kidney. The two she has are both working at less than 10 per cent.
“I got a call this month from the kidney doctor who said, ‘Look, your kidneys are never going to recover so let’s look around for a kidney for you,’” said Hoekstra, formerly from Lumby but now residing in Armstrong.
Hoekstra presently receives dialysis twice a week at the Vernon Renal Clinic, a procedure that leaves her feeling sick. A day after dialysis she’ll vomit, her body will be itchy all over and she’ll have massive migraine headaches. When she starts to feel better, it’s time for dialysis.
“It’s hard, actually,” said Hoekstra, whose story the Morning Star chronicled in July 2020 after sister-in-law Kate Hoekstra began a GoFundMe campaign.
Hoekstra began having extreme pain in her abdomen in April of last year, and a cyst the size of a melon was discovered on her ovary and fallopian tube. She underwent a hysterectomy on June 15. And while recovery should have been smooth, it was anything but for Hoekstra, who was still really sore from the procedure. A scan showed that her bowel had been lacerated and she was immediately taken into surgery.
“That surgery saved my life,” said Hoekstra, who was given an ostomy bag, and a nasal tube was inserted down into her stomach to drain fluid.
It was then, she said, that doctors noticed her kidneys didn’t work. She had been in intensive care at Vernon Jubilee Hospital but was transferred to Kelowna as VJH, Hoekstra said, did not have dialysis machines in ICU.
She was in KGH for about four weeks, which included being in a medically induced coma for a day or two after her lungs filled with fluid. Hoekstra returned home to the North Okanagan on Aug. 7, 2020, and immediately began dialysis.
Hoekstra is scheduled for surgery Monday, Feb. 1, to reverse her ostomy bag which would allow her to go to the washroom normally, and she has reached out to girlfriends and to her three brothers to consider testing to be a live organ donor.
She could be placed on the waiting list for deceased organs, but there’s a two-year waiting period with COVID-19 playing a big part in that.
“For my overall health, I’m better with a live donor,” said Hoekstra, who has been unable to work since her original surgery.
You can find information on being a live donor from the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s website, kidney.ca.
The GoFundMe campaign organized by her sister-in-law netted more than $5,600 to help with Hoekstra’s expenses.