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January 21, 2008

Kevin Reynolds: Volunteer, full-time employee, husband, father

Kevin Reynolds works full time doing public relations and special events for Cincinnati Public Radio. He also volunteers for the American Cancer Society. Home hemodialysis has given him back “a comforting sense of normal” he is grateful for. This is his story.

It’s been five months since I began home hemodialysis, a treatment that takes place while I sit comfortably in my recliner in my family room surrounded by pictures of my family with my wife and daughter on the couch nearby and all the amenities of my home close at hand - my books, my laptop, my remote and my TV.

How did I get to this place? The short answer is cancer got me here - malignant tumors in both kidneys caused me to lose them in separate surgeries just two months apart. We were fortunate that at a modality training session on the day before I was to enter the hospital for my second nephrectomy, we learned that there was such a thing as home hemodialysis.

It is astonishing the level of normalcy that I have attained through home hemo, a level that I truly thought would never be possible again. So, here I am today, fully entrenched in my life as a dialysis patient, but working hard not to let that define me totally. I am, more importantly, a husband, a parent, a son, a friend, an employee, a co-worker, a volunteer and hopefully a well-rounded human being.

In spite of my lack of kidneys and in spite of my almost daily dialysis, I’m leading a life fairly close to the one I lived before all this happened. Had you asked me a few months ago if I thought this was possible, I would have said, “No way.” But time, love, patience, modern technology and the support of great professionals has made it possible. Home hemodialysis has meant all the difference in my life and my family’s life. It’s given me back a comforting sense of normal, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.

Learn more about home hemodialysis at www.davita.com/home.

January 16, 2008

Home dialysis: You won’t be all alone.

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When you do home dialysis, you’re not alone. You have an entire medical team focused on your care. These health care professionals will educate you about the different at-home treatments so that with your doctor you can determine which form of home dialysis is right for you. They will also be there to train you, make changes to your dialysis treatment when necessary, monitor your health to help you achieve your best possible results and support you every step of the way.

Your home dialysis health care team is made up of your nephrologist, your peritoneal dialysis (PD) or home hemodialysis (HHD) nurse, your home-training nurse, your renal dietitian, your renal social worker, your care partner and your support system.

Each of these professionals specialize in a different area of your care so that you have a comprehensive team for anything you might need. If you need help understanding your health insurance, your renal social worker will be there to answer all your questions and explain things to you. If you need assistance getting your lab values where they need to be, your renal dietitian can work with you to create a diet that keeps you healthy.

You will likely come to know your health care team personally and see them as friends who genuinely care about you.

Learn more about home dialysis at www.davita.com/home.

Register now to recieve your very own pair of DaVita spa slippers, along with DaVita’s monthly Home Dialysis Newsletter.

January 14, 2008

Big news for small spaces

little-house.jpgIf there’s anyone who knows about living in tiny spaces, it’s me. After all, I live in Los Angeles, the only place in the nation (except maybe New York) where living in a studio apartment the size of a walk-in closet is the norm. Who really needs a bedroom, anyway? And on second thought, who really needs a kitchen? Give me a hotplate and a microwave, and I’m set. However, the bad thing about living in a small space is that you have to think long and hard about things like bringing home an extra nightstand or upgrading to four dining chairs instead of two; things some people never have to consider.

But today I have good news! If you’ve considered home dialysis and decided against it because you fear you won’t have room for the dialysis machine in your home, you will be happy to know, home dialysis machines really aren’t that big! I know, I didn’t believe it either until I saw one. I had the mental image of something the size of a refrigerator, but boy, was I wrong.

The newest home dialysis equipment is designed to take up less space and require fewer supplies, which means less required storage space. Some new equipment options are also designed to provide more portability, giving you the chance to travel with your machine for work or fun. In fact, home hemodialysis (HHD) machines and most peritoneal dialysis (PD) cyclers will easily fit on your nightstand!

In addition, while the old home hemodialysis equipment required patients to make plumbing and/or electrical modifications to their homes, the new home hemodialysis machines generally do not require any home modifications. Some even come complete with their very own water purification system that is both compact and easy to use.

Phew! Finally, we studio-dwellers get a break. For more information on home dialysis equipment and treatment, visit www.davita.com/home.

Related blog
Home dialysis: The equipment will fit in your home.

January 9, 2008

Marvin Burney: Husband, baseball coach

Marvin Burney’s life is finally returning to normal, thanks to home hemodialysis (HHD). The at-home dialysis treatment has given him the energy to get moving again and live the active life he’s used to. This is his story.

I started my walk down “Dialysis Road” almost thirteen years ago. When ESRD grabbed me, I was young, busy and relatively healthy, but all of that soon changed. After just a few months on in-center hemodialysis, I looked, felt, and moved around like an old, old man (and I was only 39 at the time!). My life had been very busy with working a full-time job and then spending an additional 25 to 30 hours a week volunteering as a youth baseball, football and basketball coach. But all of that stopped because my “new” life revolved around dialysis, and after treatments, I didn’t have the strength to work or coach anymore.

HHD has allowed me to reclaim my life. This is now my body, my disease, my treatment and my life, and I’m in charge. That’s a feeling I haven’t had in thirteen years, and boy, it’s a terrific feeling! HHD has also made me young again. After finishing my HHD training in August, I decided to coach a fall, youth baseball team, something I haven’t done in years.

The last year I coached when I was on in-center dialysis, I had to do all of my coaching from a golf cart because I couldn’t walk to the field or walk around during practice. On HHD, I got out on the field with the boys and led them in warm-up exercises. I walked for two hours and only stopped to demonstrate fielding and batting techniques, and I wasn’t even tired!

Yes, it’s true, dialysis still keeps me alive. But now, home hemodialysis keeps me alive, but it also lets me be young, busy and healthy again, and that makes ALL the difference!

Visit www.davita.com/home to learn more about home hemodialysis.

January 4, 2008

Home dialysis: You will know what to do.

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If you and your doctor have determined that home dialysis is right for you, you’ll work with a home dialysis provider to participate in a comprehensive training program that is tailored to your specific medical and learning needs. A quality training program will provide the education, tools and support needed to stay healthy and safe while enjoying the many benefits home dialysis can offer.

Every patient and his or her treatment are unique and training needs vary, so home dialysis providers personalize training programs to help you understand how to perform your individual treatments. During your training, you will learn all the skills and procedures needed to regularly perform your treatments independently. The wide range of topics will include how to: use your equipment, create a hygienic environment, manage supplies, handle needles and keep an organized log of your treatments, among other essential tasks. The length of training programs varies, but most people can usually learn how to safely perform their own peritoneal dialysis within a couple of weeks and home hemodialysis treatments within three to five weeks.

During training, you will be encouraged to ask any and all questions you may have. No question is too dumb, and you can never ask too many questions. DaVita’s home training nurses are great with people and truly care about each patient that they train. They spend plenty of time with each patient to make sure that everyone is given the time and attention needed to learn the home dialysis process through and through. The newest home dialysis machines on the market are also extremely user-friendly, making it even easier to learn to do home dialysis.

After the training, some patients are so confident about their skills that they say they know just as much as the nurses and could teach someone else to do home dialysis themselves.

Learn more about home dialysis at www.davita.com/home.

Register for DaVita’s monthly Home Dialysis Newsletter. And recieve your very own pair of DaVita spa slippers.

December 28, 2007

The price is right

It’s the root of all evil.  It can’t buy happiness. It sometimes burns a hole in your pocket. And we all wish it grew on trees. What exactly am I referring to? Money, that’s what. Since money influences many of my decisions on a daily basis, I was surprised to learn that money really isn’t something you should worry about when considering a home treatment for kidney disease.

If you go on home dialysis, you will typically be provided with all the necessary equipment, and most, if not all, training and supply costs are covered by Medicare and most private insurance plans for qualified patients. This leaves little to no out-of-pocket costs.

If you’re afraid that home dialysis would cost too much, talk with your social worker today about benefits offered by Medicare and other insurance providers. If you are currently employed, talk with your human resources department about the benefits offered by your company’s health plan. Chances are you will be surprised to learn how inexpensive home dialysis actually is.

Cost shouldn’t keep you from choosing the dialysis option that is best for your health and lifestyle. Visit www.davita.com/home for more info about home dialysis.

Related blog
Home dialysis: You can afford it.

December 18, 2007

George Hartman: Husband, father of 5, outdoorsman

George Hartman is a father of 5, a grandfather of 19 and a great grandfather of 2. Peritoneal dialysis (PD) gives him the energy to spend time with his family and do the things he loves. This is his story:

Before I got sick, I was very active. My wife and I had a house up in the mountains…We went hunting. We had a lake I kept for swimming. It was great. Then, it got to be too much for me to keep up so we sold it. I still did the landscaping and gardening at our home. I love working outdoors. I even built my own birdhouses.

As I got sicker, I was tired all of the time. I was always taking naps. It was getting close to Thanksgiving. My family loves this holiday. We all get together and just really enjoy each other. I was feeling so bad I didn’t even want to go to dinner. My granddaughter was getting married on New Year’s Eve. The whole family was looking forward to it. My granddaughter was upset, thinking I wouldn’t be able to attend.

On November 15, I started my PD training. I could not believe that after just one week I could feel so much better. I started raking my lawn. It felt good to be back out working in my yard. I went to Thanksgiving, and everyone kept saying how healthy I looked. The best part was I felt good. My wife and I enjoyed getting ready for the holidays.

The next best thing that happened was I was able to attend my granddaughter’s wedding, and I even danced with the bride.

For more information about peritoneal dialysis, visit www.davita.com/home.

December 15, 2007

Home dialysis: The equipment will fit in your home.

New technological advances have made more reliable and user-friendly home dialysis machines and water treatment equipment available for home dialysis patients. This new generation of machines is easier to set up, clean and disinfect while offering increased flexibility and a much more comfortable experience for patients. The newest home dialysis machines are designed to take up less space and require fewer supplies, which mean less required storage space.

The NxStage System One machine for home hemodialysis weighs 75 pounds and is 15 x 15 x 18 inches. The water purification system used with the NxStage machine is the PureFlow system. The PureFlow system is approximately the size of a small refrigerator. The NxStage machine sits on top of the PureFlow system. If you need to take your NxStage machine on a trip, you can simply lift it off of the PureFlow system and take it with you. The PureFlow system is not built to travel so you will simply need to bring bags of solution with you on your trips to use with the NxStage machine.

View an animated presentation of how the NxStage System One and PureFlow system work on the NxStage website.

Peritoneal dialysis cyclers for automated peritoneal dialysis have also been designed to take up less space. In fact, Baxter’s HOMECHOICE and HOMECHOICE PRO system is approximately the size of a VCR and easily fits on a nightstand. View a photo of the system on Baxter’s website.

These new, smaller home dialysis machines make it easy for people who live in small homes or apartments to do home dialysis.

Learn more about home dialysis at www.davita.com/home.

December 10, 2007

Home dialysis made easy

Many people considering home dialysis think they’re not smart enough to learn how to do it and that they won’t know what to do once they’re trained.  This thinking is wrong for two reasons. Number one, it gives you no credit. You’re smarter than you think you are. And number two, it gives training nurses no credit. Surely, they wouldn’t send you home without teaching you the skills you need to be successful.

If you and your doctor decide that home dialysis is right for you, you’ll enroll in a training program that is tailored to your specific needs. Each patient and treatment regimen is unique, so DaVita personalizes training programs to help you learn how to perform treatments at home with complete confidence.

During your training, you’ll learn all the skills and procedures needed to regularly perform your treatments independently. You’ll learn how to use your equipment, manage supplies, handle needles, create a hygienic environment and keep an organized log of your treatments. The length of training programs varies, but most people can usually learn how to safely perform their own peritoneal dialysis within a couple of weeks and home hemodialysis treatments within three to five weeks.

Home hemodialysis patients are encouraged to have a care partner assist them with their at-home treatments. This can be a spouse, parent, child, professional caregiver or other responsible person who can be relied upon to provide support. If you have a dialysis partner, he or she will be trained with you.

So, give yourself and your brain power some credit and give home dialysis a try if you think it’s right for you. Check out www.davita.com/home for more info on home dialysis treatments.

Related blog
Home dialysis: You will know what to do.

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