The Student News Site of Yutan High School

Chieftain Times

The Student News Site of Yutan High School

Chieftain Times

The Student News Site of Yutan High School

Chieftain Times

Wacker wrestles with unique kidney condition

Normally, people are born with two working kidneys that filter and remove waste products and extra fluid from their blood. But sophomore Nicole Wacker was born with only one working kidney and one “dead” kidney and has dealt with stage two chronic kidney disease (CKD) since she was a few months old. 

Nicole Wacker smiles after a successful surgery while eating Cheerios at the age of one. Nicole only had one surgery to help save her working kidney. (Courtesy Photo)

“It’s basically the gradual loss of kidney function,” Nicole said. “There are four stages, so I fall somewhere in the middle.”

First showing symptoms of high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythm and kidney failure at birth, Nicole’s doctors realized that as her age advanced, so would her condition. Nicole’s mom, Kara Wacker, recalled that after about a year, they realized there truly was something wrong.

“At a checkup, they realized that she had an obstruction in her healthy kidney that needed to be fixed,” Kara said.

Following this appointment, the Wackers had two nephrology clinic appointments followed by two trips to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

“They performed surgery to fix an Ureteropelvic junction obstruction or blockage,” Nicole said.

After her surgery, Nicole had six-month checkups at Mayo Clinic for a few years and now goes annually.

“Each time I go, they do an ultrasound, lab work and a clinical exam to make sure I am completely healthy, especially since I only have one working kidney,” Nicole said.

Nicole Wacker and her dad, Adam Wacker, play together while at a hospital. Her parents recall that they had to keep reminding her that she had to keep track of her IV bag while playing. (Courtesy Photo)

Even though the Mayo Clinic is farther away, the Wackers keep going back because the doctors know Nicole’s case inside and out.

“They gave us hope in the beginning and enabled her to live a very healthy, active, happy life,” Kara said.

Kara recalled that after Nicole’s initial surgery, Nicole was a much happier and playful child.

“She felt so much better that she was wild. We tried laps around the hallways in a wagon, but she wanted to run and play,” Kara said.

As she grew, CKD affected Nicole in many ways, such as making her want to eat an adult size plate of spaghetti due to restrictions before her surgery. But as she has gotten older, Nicole has progressed positively and is still able to do normal teenager activities. She likes to play volleyball during the fall and do wrestling during the winter. 

Nicole Wacker wrestles with an opponent during a match. Wacker is currently in her second year of wrestling. (Halle Arlt)

“I like still being able to play sports, but I do have to make sure that I don’t do certain movements,” Nicole said. “A sudden hit to the back is one of the most harmful things that could happen because it could harm my good kidney.”

Along with her movements, she still has to focus on random things such as salt intake and only sitting on the left side of a car to preserve her healthy kidney.

“I struggle to remember those things sometimes, but I know it’s important so I try to execute it every day,” Nicole said.

Even though it takes adjustments, Nicole has tried to maintain a positive outlook on her condition.

“I’m learning new things every day about my condition, and it makes me realize that I am still able to live life and do the things I love,” Nicole said.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Kylie Krajicek
Kylie Krajicek, Sophomore writer
Kylie Krajicek is a sophomore and in her second year of journalism.  She enjoys taking pictures.  Outside journalism, Kylie is involved in volleyball, track and dance.
Donate to Chieftain Times

Your donation will support the student journalists of Yutan High School. Your contribution will help cover our annual website hosting costs, as well as allow us to purchase equipment and produce more in-print editions.

More to Discover
Donate to Chieftain Times

Comments (0)

All Chieftain Times Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *