He may not have use of his legs, but that doesn’t stop him from spreading his message to anyone who will listen.
“You have to take care of yourself,” he said.
Jimmy Dyess, 67, has been living with kidney disease for the past 18 years. He is on dialysis and gets around in a wheelchair. However, he doesn’t let that dampen his spirits.
“You want to live for your family,” he said. “High blood pressure killed my kidneys, so take your pill and check your blood pressure whenever you can.”
After losing his brother and nephew to kidney disease, both at age 34, Dyess said he knew he had to take charge of his health and not let kidney disease take him, too.
“I never miss an appointment,” he said. “My body is real clean now.”
High blood pressure runs in Dyess’ family, and it is the second-leading cause of kidney disease in the United States, behind diabetes, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease.
According to the NIDDK website, when the force of blood flow is high, blood vessels stretch so blood flows more easily. Eventually, this stretching scars and weakens blood vessels through the body. If the vessels in kidneys are damage, they may stop removing wastes and extra fluid from the body, which is their primary function.
“People will ask me how did I know,” Dyess said. “I went to the doctor and he said my kidneys were failing, and to come back in two weeks. But in less than two weeks, my heart was racing, so I had to go to the hospital. I was lucky I made it in time, but then I found out I had to go on dialysis.”
Dyess now warns people to take care of their health before it is too late. According to Mayo Clinic, high blood pressure can cause damage not only to the kidneys, but also to the arteries, heart, brain, eyes and bones.
“You can avoid it if you get your blood pressure under control,” he said. “I talk to people young and old, that you have to take care of yourself. Thanks to my power chair, I can go around the neighborhood and talk to people. I say just because you feel good doesn’t mean anything. I never did feel bad, but my kidneys were catching up with me.”