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Veteran Patient Overcomes His Fears with His DaVita Care Team by His Side
Hey y’all! My name is Carl Stewart and I’m a 70-year-old Air Force veteran in Raleigh, North Carolina. I have been on dialysis for five years and have been diabetic for eighteen years.
I am currently on in-center hemodialysis at a DaVita center in Raleigh, and I thank to my DaVita team for helping me live into retirement. My nephrologist, physician’s assistant, dietitian, social worker, nurses and patient care technicians work with me to give me a quality of life so that I don’t fear striving to reach almost any goal.
Avoiding drinking and not smoking also keeps my health in balance, from my mood and mental wellness to physical well-being. I feel so much better since I’ve been on dialysis. I admit that I was somewhat resistant, as I was actually diagnosed with end stage renal disease (ESRD) about seven years ago by my Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors. At the time of the diagnosis, I felt that I had too much to do to let dialysis slow me down, after all I am a tough veteran and survivor of the war in Southeast Asia.
I had just returned from a month-long trip to the Philippines and New Zealand. I had lost almost twenty-five pounds and could barely walk a city block without being totally out of breath, to the point of bending over and throwing up. Now that I look back on it, I should have taken hints from my friends who constantly asked me if I wanted a ride to the emergency room.
I finally came to my senses and sat down with a DaVita representative after a local seminar. I agreed to visit the local DaVita dialysis center to allay any apprehension I may have been experiencing and EUREKA! That visit changed my life!
I was stunned by how much better I felt after just the first week of dialysis treatments. My doctors at the VA hospital had been used to me coming in so often that they were getting ready to give me my own cubicle in the ER. After starting dialysis, my visits to my primary care physician went from monthly to quarterly, then dropped to semi-annual. Life became infinitely more livable.
I hope to be an example of living life fearlessly. I have traveled to all seven continents and I continue to travel now! My advice for others experiencing kidney disease is this: don’t be fearful. Whether it is planning a trip and visiting a new center for dialysis, or starting dialysis in the first place, the fact is, that it is all doable. I’ve learned that a positive outlook is contagious and that this isn’t a death sentence, –you can live with CKD, it just requires lifestyle changes.
I have been cycling for over twenty years. Although dialysis can be exhausting and make it difficult to get in the mood to ride, I have found that I feel better when I continue to exercise. In fact, before I retired, I remember riding my bike five miles to work, three miles from work to dialysis and then three miles from dialysis to home!
Since retiring, I have taken up photography on a freelance basis and have traveled to plenty of destinations to see relatives or take photos. I have also ridden in Tour DaVita for the past three years! A nurse, Kathryn Dion, a technician, Kristi Patton and a dietitian, Adrienne Valentino from my center have ridden along with me. I must say that without the encouragement and support of my health care team, I would never have dreamed of participating. It is now one of the things I look forward to each year.
DaVita and its people have been a blessing. No matter what DaVita center I’ve traveled to, I’ve encountered caring, superbly competent and professional people at every point. My journey is not over and I’m so grateful that I have DaVita as my companion.