About Ken

Treatment Type
Daily Home Hemodialysis
Marital Status
Not at Home
Work Status
Poor Vision

Ken didn't have to give up his lifestyle just because his kidneys failed. Armed with a portable NxStage home hemodialysis (HD) machine, he and his wife Joyce travel and show their prized Samoyed dogs.

Kidney failure

To this day, Ken is not sure what caused his kidneys to fail. "In 2004, my kidney failure started to present itself in the form of less urine flow. My doctor prescribed prostate medicine," said Ken. "The next year, I had a stroke 2,500 miles away from my home. The dose of beta blocker I was taking doubled by the hospital I went to. My systolic blood pressure rose to well over 180. By June of 2006, I had gained over 65 pounds of water weight until I was weeping from the legs."

A deep ultrasound and biopsies found that Ken was in the early stages of kidney failure. "The results could not be classified since the experts had never seen such total destruction before," says Ken. "My doctor took me off the beta blocker in the hope that I was allergic to it. My creatinine level started to drop, and I left town for a few months. But, when I got back, my creatinine had gone up from 2 to 6."

Doctors tried to reverse the damage and got Ken's creatinine back down to less than 3 by the end of 2006. Ken recalls, "The doctor said it would be okay for my wife and I to travel out of the country." So, in December, Ken and Joyce took a 3-week trip to Tahiti. After the trip, Ken went for his monthly blood test. "My creatinine went from less than 3 up to 9," reports Ken. "My physician called and said to get to the hospital right away." Ken had 3 days of dialysis in the hospital and was discharged to do dialysis in a center.

Introduction to home HD

In his fifth month of in-center HD, Ken's arm was being mapped for a fistula. "The tech was talking with us, and we said that we traveled a lot before I started dialysis, to show our dogs," says Ken. "The tech said, 'You know, I may lose my job if they find out, but I will give you some information and a phone number to call.' That's how I found out that home HD existed."

Ken called Jerry, an area manager with DaVita. "Two months later we were training on the NxStage machine," reports Ken. "Since I was an electrical engineer, I understood the machine pretty well. They kicked us out in 4 weeks!"

Home vs. in-center HD


Getting set up the first week on home HD was tough for Ken, but after that he's had no problems. "There is no comparison, none, between the two types of HD," relays Ken. "On in-center I had to be there at 6 a.m. for over 5 hours. Then, I was wiped out for the rest of the day—it was miserable." Ken is happy he can do home HD whenever he wants to. "It's a 3-hour block of time, 6 days a week, that I can work into my week how I want," says Ken. "I can change a day if it's to our advantage, and that in itself is worth its weight in gold."

Being able to travel is the biggest plus for Ken and Joyce, who have fitted their RV for travel with the machine and the dogs. "We mainly travel in the RV for dog shows 2-3 weekends a month, in Arizona, California, and Washington," explains Ken. "Sometimes we drop ship supplies to where we're going if we're gone for a month or so. We bring enough supplies in the RV for travel time."

Another bonus of home HD for Ken is a more normal diet. "When I was in center I had to watch my diet very closely," notes Ken. "Now I watch it, but can eat anything I want and have fewer fluid limits."

With home HD, Ken has found a way to keep his interests and lifestyle, and improve his health. "There are a lot of solutions out there. You just need to find one that best suits you and your lifestyle," explains Ken. "Home HD gave me my life back—life didn't end with dialysis."