The rich soil of America’s southern states produces a bounty of fresh fruits that are used to make pies nationwide. Strawberries are an important part of that bounty, and they make a fragrant, juicy, colorful pie. Kay from Georgia provides a delectable recipe for Kay’s Strawberry Pie that is recommended for the renal diet but is a hit with everyone.
Born in Louisiana, Kay often travelled between Texas and Colorado while growing up. “I started college and my masters’ studies at Louisiana Tech in Ruston. I graduated from Northeast Louisiana University (now University of Louisiana at Monroe) and interned at Stephen F. Austin in Texas,” says Kay.
“I thought being a dietitian meant I would be cooking and working more with food,” admits Kay, “but I quickly found out there was much more to being a dietitian than just being the ‘food lady.’”
Kay says she became a dietitian “to help others, especially those who have become ill and need someone to educate them in the best food choices for their medical problems; also, because I love to cook and create recipes.” According to Kay, “There is no greater satisfaction than to share with others something you know that could benefit them in some way.”
Personal experiences have helped Kay have a deeper understanding of what her dialysis patients go through with their renal diet challenges. “As a cancer survivor myself, I know how hard it is to follow any regimen or make permanent changes to a lifestyle you are comfortable with. Sometimes, it may not seem worth it, but it’s my job to convince people every life is special and meaningful and they have a purpose here. I educate, inform, encourage and try to put a little fun and laughter into my patients’ lives. The most rewarding aspect of my job is when a patient takes me seriously and has health and quality of life improvements — that’s my reward.”
Kay has a great sense of humor that her dialysis patients appreciate, although she knows the renal diet can be serious business. “I hope I make a difference by giving patients the education and encouragement they need to improve health and remain healthy. I am honest with my patients. I try to give them pictures and make them aware of the consequences that can occur when their lab work continues to be outside the goal range. I praise them as well as provide rewards for following the diet and dialysis regimen. If I’m not laughing, they know I don’t think they are doing what is in their best interest,” shares Kay.
Expecting perfection is not realistic to Kay, and she lets her patients know that each day is a new opportunity to improve their health. “I feel the key to keeping them on track is to encourage them to follow everything the doctor and dialysis team members advise. If a patient ‘falls off the horse’ they just have to get back on. We are all human. I tell them to do the very best they can. After all, the best you can do is the best you can do,” states Kay.
Kay reveals that her dialysis patients are a competitive group and love having contests. “Even though contests can be very demanding on the staff, patients sometimes make improvements if they have something else to work for. It brings them together for a common goal. Our clinic put together a cookbook that the patients, teammates at the center and family members contributed to, and it was a big hit.”
Teamwork is something Kay appreciates. She says, “I have been with DaVita for four and a half years. I especially love having a regional group of renal dietitians to call on for help. We can’t do this alone, no matter how smart or educated one may be. I also love having the many wonderful resources DaVita provides.”
Unlike other areas of dietetics, working at DaVita has also given her the opportunity to get to know her patients. She says, “The most surprising thing I’ve learned is how much I like working with renal patients — more than any other field of dietetics. Though the challenges are great, the rewards are greater.”
Kay enjoys making a difference in the lives of her dialysis patients and going to work everyday. “My center is located in a little, historic town only 7 miles away from my home. I love my patients and I’m fortunate to have a wonderful facility administrator and great teammates. If I could choose the people I wanted to work with, I’d choose every one of them again,” beams Kay.
You should choose to give Kay’s Strawberry Pie recipe a try. Kay’s Strawberry Pie is bursting with all the juicy goodness of fresh fruit. It’s not hard to make and it’s one of those desserts that can make any day feel like a special occasion.