South Dakota native Paul Van Vooren has always been an active person - an avid hunter, traveler and member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Association. However, in August of 2007, Paul’s kidney health began to decline and he found himself faced with the possibility that it could affect his ability to participate in the activities he loves.
Despite this setback, Paul has not allowed his condition to discourage him or deter him from the life he wants to live. Now a semi-retired businessman, he is a home dialysis patient who continues to dedicate much of his time to exploring the great outdoors. Paul is often accompanied by his 22-year-old son, a diesel mechanic, who is trained to help him dialyze, and as a patient who dialyzes six days each week, spending days to even weeks on end in the wilderness can be quite a challenge.
In a recent trip to Gunnison, Colorado – a city marked by its scenic views and lush countryside – Paul and his son embarked on a 10-day adventure in elk hunting. Amidst the typical camping gear, such as a tent, daily provisions and sleeping bags, Paul carried along two 40-pound generators designed specifically to power his dialysis equipment, as well as 40 boxes of dialysis supplies!
“Those cartridges can certainly take up a lot of space,” Paul muses.
For the duration of the 10 days, he enjoyed quality time with his son, fishing and hunting, all the while braving the wilderness and the frequent dialysis treatments associated with kidney disease from inside their tent.
But this is not the first wilderness adventure for Paul. Past trips include an expedition to Alaska, where he and his son participated in a bear hunt 100 miles away from the city of Whittier via commercial fishing boat. For 10 days, bearing the cold, they slept and dialyzed in their tent while the dialysis machine ran entirely off of a generator.
A champion of perseverance, Paul vows to continue his adventures in the great outdoors, exploring new locations across the U.S., and offers today’s dialysis patients some sage words of advice.
“Never give up,” Paul says. “If you want to do something in life, you can do it. Don’t give up.”
When 49-year-old Jeffrey Barada of Austin, Texas began daytime dialysis two years ago, he felt as if his kidney disease had taken over his life. When he wasn’t leaving work in the middle of the day to dialyze three times a week, he was recovering from the after effects of the treatment.
“I always felt as if I’d been hit by a truck,” Jeffrey says. “It was pretty hard to pick what part of your day you wanted to give up. I tried all three daytime shifts and didn’t do well on any of them. There never seemed to be time to do anything other than hook up to the machine or sleep the rest of the next day.”
When Jeffrey learned about the benefits of DaVita’s nocturnal dialysis program, he was interested in trying it out. “I work as a janitor for a number of local bars and nightclubs. There are 900 establishments in Austin, so I need to have a lot of energy to do the job.” Thanks to nocturnal dialysis, he has that energy. “When I leave the clinic at around 4:00 a.m., I can go home and nap and then have the rest of the day to work, make plans to see friends, go to dinner. I have my life back.”
Nocturnal dialysis is beneficial in its flexibility, as patients are able to receive hemodialysis in a dialysis center overnight for six to eight hours while they sleep, instead of the traditional four hours of dialysis received during the day, with patients just waiting and watching the clock tick by. Additionally, because this solution takes a bit longer, nocturnal dialysis is much gentler on the body and gets blood cleaner.
In addition to increased energy and more free time, Jeffrey enjoys the quieter pace of nocturnal dialysis. “During the day, there are three shifts of patients moving on and off the machines, a lot of noise and a lot of people. At night, there are fewer people dialyzing and it’s much less hectic. It’s good to have nocturnal dialysis as an option - it makes all the difference in the world to me.”
Kidney dialysis isn’t easy – just ask Paul Maxwell, a home dialysis patient residing in the rural town of Robinson, IL. During an explosion at work, Paul was ejected from within a pipe that he had been painting and was knocked into a coma, sustaining severe burn injuries. But the injuries did not end there: doctors at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield found that Paul’s accident had also resulted in kidney failure, and the patient was faced with traveling to Effingham 3 days a week for dialysis.
16 years later, Paul continues his dialysis 5 days per week but has opted to do so at home. He and his daughter Jeannie were trained at Effingham Davita @ Home on how to utilize a smaller dialysis machine that is made by NxStage. They also learned how to use a portable water purification system to supply pure water for the dialysis process. Jeannie and Paul’s wife Peggy are now able to do the dialysis treatments for Paul, adding a caring and supportive touch to an often tumultuous situation.
When considering the question of why he prefers home dialysis over other modalities, Paul’s response is one on flexibility, commenting that he is able to schedule his treatment at any time that is convenient for him within a 24-hour period. Additionally, Paul has less swelling in his legs and has improved breathing since his treatments are more frequent. Paul admits that even though he really enjoyed spending time with the staff at the dialysis center, he was on the verge of giving up, tired of the constant driving and frustrated with the routine.
Below are Paul’s words regarding his life on dialysis:
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