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'Go get yourself checked': Cree rapper Hellnback recovering from kidney disease

Last summer, Karmen Omeasoo, who goes by the rapper name Hellnback, received a scary diagnosis. He had stage five kidney disease, and his kidney was only functioning at 15 per cent. 
Hellnback recovering from his surgery to receive a catheter for his peritoneal dialysis. (Lisa Muswagon)

Last summer, Karmen Omeasoo, who goes by the rapper name Hellnback, received a scary diagnosis. He had stage five kidney disease, and his kidney was only functioning at 15 per cent. 

"They say men are stubborn beings ... to all you men out there, go get yourself checked. Listen to your spouse because my wife actually had to threaten me, 'if you don't go to the doctor then we're getting a divorce,'" said Omeasoo.

Omeasoo and his family had just returned from a trip to the United States, and they had stopped in his wife's community of Cross Lake, Man.

"One night I woke up and I just couldn't breathe, it was really scary to me," said Omeasoo, who went to the local nursing station to have his symptoms checked. 

"Next thing you know I get a frantic phone call from these doctors … I was freaking out. So I went over there and that's when they just opened a whole book on me, and told me I had stage five kidney failure." 

"They were basically telling me, you know, you're one step away from dying." 

Since Omeasoo is always on the road touring, hemodialysis, a procedure that filters waste and water out a patient's blood wasn't an option for him, since it can require patients to visit a dialysis unit multiple times a week, for hours at a time.

Instead, he decided to go the route of peritoneal dialysis. Both he and his daughter, Jayla Muswagon, have received peritoneal dialysis training at Seven Oaks Hospital in Winnipeg. 

"It's not like hemodialysis, where you hook up with needles and whatnot, you go through your veins," said Omeasoo. 

"Peritoneal dialysis is a catheter that was put in my stomach, and basically it's a way for me to empty out the extra waste and bad stuff in my system daily — like four times a day — basically it works with my schedule." 

In addition to dialysis, Omeasoo has made lifestyle changes.  

"It's been about 10 years since I've done hard drugs, it's been about four years since I drank … I stopped eating pork, I stopped eating salt, I stopped eating fried foods," said Omeasoo, who said those changes helped him reverse his Type 2 diabetes. 

"I've been hearing it my whole life, 'what you put in your body is what you get out,' and that's the truth … if you put in garbage, you're going to get a garbage reaction." 

For Omeasoo, his family was the inspiration behind getting his health back. 

"When you get up to my age … it's not just about you anymore, it's about your kids, it's about your family, it's about the people that look up to you," said Omeasoo. 

"Changing yourself is something that you have to do when you get older … because you don't want to be fighting for your life like me at this age … if I can do it, anybody can."  

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