Kidney dialysis is no picnic

Published 9:55 am Saturday, March 10, 2012

by Deanna Hunt

Have you ever just wanted to scream into a crowd and wonder if anyone can hear you?

That is what I feel like at this exact moment, while I am composing this article. I have been trying to get my voice heard in regards to kidney disease in this area, and I feel as if no one is listening, or either they just don’t care.

If they were to walk in my shoes, then they would understand that it is not a game. Due to hypertension, my kidneys failed in August 2008, and I did not have a choice. I had to immediately start dialysis.

In that same year, I was also evaluated and placed on the transplant list in the Tidewater Region at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital’s Kidney/Pancreas/Heart Transplant Center.

To me, my life was just beginning and then in a blink of an eye, my life as I knew it came to a screeching halt. I had to leave a job that I loved and co-workers who were more like family because the environment was not conducive to my condition or the brand-spanking-new catheter that was placed in my chest for temporary access for dialysis.

In the beginning, I had all the support in the world. My friends from work would call, some of my family members would call to show their support and it felt wonderful.

As the years passed, I was passed along as well. The phone calls are not as plentiful as they used to be. My support circle is not as large as I thought it would be; it only consists of a small number of individuals who I know without a shadow of a doubt are there for me.

My dialysis mates have become my family. I look out for them and they, in return, do the same, well most of them.

The dialysis center that I go to is not very supportive at all in this special month. There is no information about the month. They do not know the color of National Kidney Month (it’s lime green), and they don’t even know that March 8 was World Kidney Day.

To a patient, that’s very disheartening to know that the place where you receive treatment from does not care about others and their quality of life.

I approached the dietician and clinical manager, and they advised me that it was not their duty to inform others about either this day or the month for that matter. As far as they were concerned, this was a preventive measure and they cannot see doing anything to assist.

Translation — that means they are saying, “Why am I going to spend time and effort in educating individuals on what they need to do with their bodies and kidneys? It is not me, so why bother?”

It is upsetting because this area isn’t doing anything about this month. There are constant fundraisers for cancer and heart disease, but kidney disease is the redheaded stepchild. No recognition, no fundraisers hardly, nothing.

So, all I can do is write this story with hopes that someone will read it and understand that I am trying the best that I can to keep others from going through what I have to go through, three days a week for 3½ hours.

What I want to stress to individuals who read this article is this:

* Take care of yourselves. Go to your primary physician for your annual checkups.

* Keep your blood pressure under control. High blood pressure or hypertension is one of the main causes of PKD/CKD and ESRD.

* Stay away from salt. Keep it to a minimum because salt can really mess with your kidneys.

* Stay hydrated. Drink water, which is so much better for you, and if you have to drink a soda, stay away from dark colas and high-caffeine citrus sodas.

* Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

* Keep your weight under control. Obesity is one of the leading causes of kidney disease; it is not just diabetes anymore.

I pray that this article reaches one person, or maybe even two people and encourages them to get tested; early detection is the key because I would not wish this on my own enemy.

Please be blessed and be informed. Thank you for allowing me to express myself.

Deanna Nicole Hunt is a resident of Newsoms and was diagnosed with hypertension and end-stage renal disease in 2008. She does kidney dialysis three times a week. She can be reached at