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Chef Robert: Mastering Work, Family & Dialysis

"[Going to my job] takes me away from the fact that I have end stage renal disease, because I’m absorbed in my work," says Robert, an executive chef, proud grandfather and DaVita® dialysis patient from Houston.

For more than 42 years, Robert has been working in the restaurant business. The thought of leaving the job he loves never crossed his mind when he started treatment for kidney failure—he would find a way to make dialysis fit with his work and his life.

Similar to how many people get kidney disease, Robert’s condition was brought on by uncontrolled high blood pressure. He tried managing his hypertension but it soon led to kidney failure. Luckily, his healthcare team helped educate him about his treatment options so he could find one that kept him employed. In 2009, he began in-center nocturnal hemodialysis, which turned out to be a great fit for his lifestyle. After his evening shift at his job, he goes to his dialysis center and receives treatment overnight, three times per week. Once he’s finished and well-rested, he goes home and continues on with his daily routine.

"Even though [my doctor] classified [me as having] end stage renal disease, it’s not end stage," says Robert. "It's just another stage in your life, and you can balance it and move on with your life.… It's not going away but you can live with dialysis and live successfully."

When he thinks about other people on dialysis who grapple with whether or not they should keep their job, he says communication is a key component to making that decision.

"Talk to your work to make sure [dialysis] fits in, so you put the least amount of stress upon yourself as possible," he says. "But get the information and process it and talk to your family."

With support from his co-workers, family and DaVita kidney care team, Robert has found a way to turn his kidney disease into something encouraging.

"Every morning I tell everybody, 'There are no more bad days—there are only good days.' Some are better than others but …when that foot hits the ground in the morning, baby, it’s a good day!"