About Mary

Treatment Type
Peritoneal Dialysis
Marital Status
Not at Home
Work Status
Poor Vision

One year, 61 year old Mary was happily settled with her husband in their retirement dream home in the Smoky Mountains of NC. She was working part-time in a hospital lab, and living the good life. One year later, she was training to do home dialysis. Here's her story.

Unexpected diagnosis


As someone with long term diabetes, Mary knew she was at risk for problems like kidney disease. She was careful to manage her blood sugar, diet, and lifestyle. She got check-ups and her hemoglobin A1c tests were always good. So, Mary was surprised when her doctor told her that her kidney function had dropped enough that she should prepare for dialysis. "I had no idea I had a problem," Mary recalled, "I was in shock!"

Mary's daughter, a nurse, was surprised by the sudden change in her mother's health, too. She suggested that Mary visit the Mayo Clinic for more tests. Mary went to Rochester, MN and checked herself in. Tests found a tumor in her right kidney that turned out to be cancer. She had surgery to remove the tumor, and most of her kidney.

In most cases, one good kidney works well enough to maintain health. But, Mary's other kidney was damaged. Doctors told her, once again, to prepare for dialysis.

Find a nephrologist

Mary returned home from the Mayo Clinic with a mission to find a nephrologist and choose a treatment. She went to her doctor for a referral. Mary also did her own research online to learn more about kidney failure, treatment options, and what to expect.

In her online research, Mary found out about home dialysis. The possibility gave her hope. "I liked the idea of peritoneal dialysis (PD)," explained Mary. "I thought it would help me keep my life more normal."

When Mary went to see the nephrologist, she was told she could not do PD. "I've had surgeries," Mary noted. "I had my tubes tied, my stomach stapled, and, of course, the kidney tumor. So, he said I was not a good candidate. He wanted to put in a shunt and start me on hemodialysis right away." But Mary was determined. "I got a second opinion," she reported. "The team at Union County Dialysis in Blairsville, Georgia, told me PD would be no problem for me."

A little apprehensive

Mary was a little worried about starting PD. "The first doctor told me it would not work. If someone tells you it is not going to work, you do worry," she commented. Still, Mary went ahead with PD, and traveled to Atlanta to have a catheter put in.

Mary trained at her dialysis center for 2 weeks on manual PD. Then, she got her Baxter cycler and trained for 2 more days to learn how to run the machine.

Mary's transition to home went smoothly, and the set up in her house was easy. "We have a bathroom next to the master bedroom and plenty of space for storing supplies."

Back to normal

Now, Mary does PD each night for 9 hours while she sleeps. She has her days free to do what she likes. She still works two 12-hour shifts at the lab every other weekend, and has been able to travel, as well. "I had the cycler home for about a week and I packed it up to go to a wedding in Kansas City," she reports. Mary has also gone to Iowa to visit her daughter and grandchildren. "Baxter has been great about shipping my supplies where I need them," she added.

"I never thought my life could be so normal on dialysis," says Mary happily. She cooks and eats most of the things she likes. She feels like her stamina especially at work is good. "My PD nurse Diane Raper and I have gotten very close, too" she adds. "She has been a great help to me through everything."

Mary recommends PD to other patients who are thinking about doing home dialysis. And, she urges them to seek a second opinion if they get resistance at first. "Find a center that offers PD," she said. "They will be more likely to be honest about whether or not it will work for you."