Saturday, July 14, 2018

Aloha, Jarand

We bid our final farewell to our second son Jarand in a Celebration of Life last weekend. Our family was overwhelmed with the outpouring of love from such a diverse group of people who all were positively impacted by Jarand in some way. The stories people shared about our son were heartwarming and made us proud to have raised such a generous and caring person who made others feel welcome and included.

I grappled with the idea of going public with why Jarand was taken from us when he was just 38 years old and lived life with purpose and passion. It was a difficult decision, but one I think needs to be shared.

Back in January, Jarand went to renew his prescription for his contact lenses. During the examination, his optometrist was alarmed that his eyes were hemorrhaging and immediately sent him to the emergency room. He was hospitalized for five days while they ran tests. Jarand's blood pressure was highly elevated, his heart was enlarged, and he was diagnosed with Stage 5 Kidney Disease. How could we have missed the signs? Jarand was an active young man, and now, his world as he knew it, was about to change drastically. I was ignorant and needed to do research on Chronic Kidney Disease. I knew people who were on dialysis, but I never knew that it is called "the silent killer" because often, there are no symptoms. According to an article, "Chronic kidney disease takes heavy toll in Hawaii," 1 in 7 adults in America are affected by CKD, and the number of deaths has doubled in the past twenty years. In Hawaii, according to statistics, the number of kidney dialysis patients rose 42% between 2006 and 2014. Sobering statistics.

At first, Jarand was in denial; he insisted that he felt fine and was not experiencing the symptoms associated with CKD. To his credit, he read the information that was shared with him, listened to his doctors, followed up with his blood tests and medical appointments, took his medication, changed his eating habits (this was difficult because he loved good food and posted photos on Instagram with the hashtag 'foodporn'), took his blood pressure every morning and evening, and started exercising more regularly. He went to an information session about kidney transplants, and we were ready to be tested to see if any of us were a match for him. Whenever we called or texted Jarand, he insisted that he was doing well. After his last appointment with the nephrologist, Jarand was optimistic; his numbers were improving, and he was very close to being Stage 4 instead of Stage 5. His diligence seemed to be paying off.

On May 19, Jarand went on a Pokemon Go raid with his brother, his nephews, and some friends. When they parted, he hugged and kissed his nephews and said he would be at Jace's soccer game the next day. He called Randy and me and said he had an early appointment with some clients. He went to sleep and passed away peacefully sometime that evening or early the next day. The cause of death, according to the coroner, was Stage 4 Kidney Disease.

I share Jarand's story because so many of us neglect to take care of our health. Jarand didn't look sick. He had actually lost weight (sudden weight loss is a symptom of CKD) and I, as well as others, complimented him on how great he looked. If only I knew . . . In hindsight, we were being optimistic (or were we naive?) that if  Jarand took care of himself, and if one of us were a match for a transplant, he would have a second chance at life, albeit one with restrictions. Sadly, that didn't happen.

On July 11, 2018, the Honolulu City Council unanimously approved Resolution 18-134 to name the tennis complex at the Patsy Mink Central Oahu Regional Park after our second son. We are humbled by this honor; this 20-court world-class facility hosts national as well as local tournaments, and it is well-utilized throughout the year by players of all ages. Jarand loved tennis and other sports, but he also loved coaching. He had a positive influence on his players, and they and their parents were among the many who attended his Celebration of Life. At the City Council meeting, Randy shared our testimony, then he read a card we received from one of Jarand's players:

Dear Jarand's family,
       Jarand was my soccer coach when I was in middle school. We were called "Chaos!" I played soccer at MHS and then on to college at Pacific University in Oregon. I remember at one practice he made us practice celebrating because he said when we score, we were emotionless. LOL! So he made us scream & jump & even do a victory dance if we scored! I used my celebration skills throughout my whole soccer career. I am now 30 years old and am so grateful for Coach Jarand and that time he gave us . . . He coached us for free! We all loved him.  
Love, Brenda Sekigawa

Brenda substitute taught and coached fitness until she became a flight attendant for a major airline. Presently, she works with youth at her church, so she is paying it forward by positively impacting other young lives just as Coach Jarand influenced her's.

We lost Jarand to a disease that is preventable. By sharing Jarand's story, I hope that all those who knew him - as well as those who will see his name at the Jarand M.Y. Iwase Tennis Complex - will take the time to get regular medical checkups so any symptoms, can be addressed immediately before it gets to Stage 4 or 5. As Glen Hayashida President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii stated, "The solution to address the issue of chronic kidney disease cannot be building more dialysis centers, but unfortunately, that seems to be the track we're on. It's just too expensive of a solution, so we really need to look at prevention. That's really the key to chronic disease."

As a parent, we never think we will outlive our child. I know that Jarand is giving us permission to tell his story so that others will not have to experience the pain of losing our loved ones to chronic kidney disease, the silent killer. Let's take the time to hug those we love a little harder, to live each day to the fullest, to treat others well, and most importantly, to take care of ourselves.


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