By: Isha “Ice” Cole
In 2007 approximately 110,000 people started treatment for End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or kidney failure in the United States. In 2010 3.9 million adults were diagnosed with noninstitutionalized kidney disease, and more than 20 million people age 20 and older were diagnosed Chronic Kidney Disease.
Author Theodore Goyins knows what it feel like to be a part of those alarming statistics. After being diagnosed Irritable Bowel Syndrome years ago, his doctors prescribed Goyins a medicine that later damaged his kidneys and nearly ended his life.
In his new book Expressions of a Man: Expressions of Faith, Family, Life & Love, Goyins discusses his physical and emotional journey in dealing with kidney failure. Expressions of a Man was a vice for Goyins, who shares many other personal moments dealing with family, love, and much more.
In addition to his writing career, the New Jersey native is also an academic adviser and adjunct professor at Camden County College. In this exclusive interview with UrbLife.com, Theodore Goyins offers advice for first-time authors, gives us some insight on his bout with kidney disease, and shares a tip on how we can all express ourselves better.
What events in your life inspired you to write your new book?
Theodore Goyins: There were many life threatening and life altering events that shaped every word in this book. As a child and young man I was unable to express myself, I held a lot of pain in. I needed to find an outlet and I needed to find it soon because my life depended on it. Writing is cathartic for me and has pulled me through some really tough times.
Just a few of those tough times included divorce of my parents, an ailment called Ulcerative Colitis and the diagnosis of kidney failure which eventually caused me to have a kidney transplant.Through writing I was also able to express the depth of love I have for my family and friends who were there for both good and bad days. Fortunately, because of my family, my good days more than outweighed my bad days.
This book was my liberation from all the pain and anguish that was going on inside. More importantly this anthology expresses the faith I had to get through tough times, the family who held me up when I wanted to give up, the love that allowed me to overcome my pain, and a life worth living because of the rewards that came with overcoming. My writing became my life line and I truly believe that it saved my life, that and my mother being my kidney donor.
In the book, how detailed do you get with the story of your health issues?
TG: This anthology is full of many free verse poems that discuss very poignant moments in my life. I discuss my near death experiences, faith that got me through those moments, and the family that supported me through the whole ordeal. But this book is not only about one man overcoming challenges; it is also about every man and woman around this country who are hoarding their emotions and pain.
I am on a mission to help expression come naturally for both men and women. So in fact I have been very vulnerable within the pages of my book, in hopes that readers will see themselves in the words and realize how important releasing of negative emotions are to the state of both their mental and physical health.
You were diagnosed with kidney failure, what was the actual disease that caused your kidneys to fail?
TG: Some would call my diagnosis with kidney failure a “freak accident”. At a young age I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, namely Ulcerative Colitis which can be very debilitating. After several years of trying to find a medicine that would ease my symptoms, the doctors came upon a medicine which they said would help.
Unfortunately, after years of taking this medicine and lack of check up by my doctor, the medicine left me with severely damaged kidney tissue. So after years of kidney failure it was finally time to receive a transplant. It was a blessing that every immediate family member was a match to be my donor, which is a miracle. In the end it was my mother who donated her kidney, giving me life twice.
Did you have any symptoms that led to this diagnosis?
TG: Yes there were many symptoms. Some of those symptoms included severe fatigue, pain in lower back, fever, weight loss, skin discoloration, and many other symptoms.
Do you have any health advice that you may have received from your doctors on how on how to keep your kidneys healthy?
TG: All individuals need to get a routine check up by their doctor annually. Always be aware of the side effects of any prescription medication that you are taking. Proper exercise and healthy eating are the only ways to ensure you are healthy and in the best shape of your life!
Explain how going through this health scare changed you as a person?
TG: My kidney transplant is a constant reminder of how precious life is and that it should never be taken for granted. I will forever have a scar to remind me of the life battles I have been through and the visual image to also remind me that those life battles are now in the past. I live every day like it is my last and eagerly pursue my passion, writing.
I have a personal mantra I live by; I’d rather struggle doing something I love than to be miserable doing something I hate. My health scares have reconnected me with my love for writing and I never plan to divorce this love. Life is for the living and I have chosen to live it to the fullest.
What do you hope people will gain after reading your book?
TG: First, I want all to know that this book is not only for men but for women as well. I am determined to help expression come naturally for both men and women. I want men to know that it is not emasculating to express yourself in order to release some of your most inner thoughts.
Lack of communication and expression is ruining relationships of every form. Furthermore, it is very important for women to release the hurt of past relationships and traumatizing abuse. Releasing this inner most pain will allow you to live freely without weights holding you down.
It is my prayer that men and women see themselves in these words and are encouraged to express themselves more in order to allow it to take its’ natural course. Readers should know that there is a man that went through some challenges and out of those challenges a dream was birthed.
Do you have any advice for any first-time authors?
TG: Never give up on your art. Protect it, believe in it, and stick with it. Nobody will believe in your art more than you do and that will prove true when you start promoting your book to readers. You must research all avenues to allow your voice and words to be heard.
The whole process may seem long but nothing feels better than the birth of a dream. My book was a several year long dream and it all is still surreal that I am now able to hold it in my hands. Remember your art may save a life one day and that is the greatest satisfaction.
Can you give us one tip on each of the areas that you discuss in your book – Faith, Family, Life and Love? How can we all improve in the way we express ourselves in those areas?
TG: Faith for each individual is different. Find something to believe in and give you hope no matter what your religion. Faith is a strong tower to lean on when things get rough. Family is the greatest support system. Never take them for granted.
My family has kept me even when I felt like the rest of the world was against me. Forgive and love those you call your family. Life is something we are blessed with each day. Live life without regrets. Love is the greatest gift. Love replaces pain, it heals hearts, and it is what binds us together. Keep love at the center of everything you do.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
TG: This is the million dollar question. Every time I choose to set up a plan for the future God always has the better one, but I will give it a try. My plan is to change the world one word at a time. I pray that I am able to create art that changes lives whether it is through books, plays, or movies. I seek to become an all around writer. I am just trying to improve my art each day.
You can definitely look for a play and another book within the next five years. For me to see another five years would be a blessing being that just a year and half ago death came knocking. These years will be spent making my company Art of Expressions Inc one of the premier companies to produce the written arts.