Weathering the Storm
Through Hurricanes and Kidney Failure, Ralph* Stood Strong
*Ralph is a NxStage Patient Advocate
In the fall of 2012, Superstorm Sandy battered the coast of New Jersey, and severely damaged Ralph and Molly’s home in Little Egg Harbor. “I can’t describe the disarray in the house,” Ralph remembers. “Dresser drawers were filled with water; all the floors and furniture were under water. We had to rip up the floor, throw away our bedding, cabinets, everything.”
Eight years later, the coastal residence – which sits on a lagoon – is restored and looking better than ever. Thanks to Ralph’s home improvement skills, it’s a place where family and friends come for gatherings, events, and even vacations. But back in August of 2018 it was Ralph’s health, not house, that needed care.
While returning from a road trip to Florida for his son’s wedding, Ralph began feeling “absolutely exhausted.” Thanks to careful monitoring by his doctor’s he was already aware his kidney function was declining. So, once home, he went for a blood test. “My nephrologist called me a few days later from his home,” Ralph recounts. “He said, ‘Get to the hospital now.’”
Ralph didn’t hesitate.
“They took me to the ER, and I got two pints of blood and an emergency catheter in my neck,” Ralph explains. “The next thing I know, I’m on dialysis.”
In-center treatments for the first few months had Ralph feeling better, but he grew tired of 70-mile roundtrip drives to the clinic three times a week. He remembered the information presented by one of his nurses about home dialysis modalities and with encouragement from his doctor, decided to try peritoneal dialysis (PD) with the Liberty Select cycler.
He says PD has him feeling better than he has in many years, and he is able to do all the things he enjoys, whether working around the house, spending time with grandchildren, or working on his model trains. His friends are amazed at his energy level, and positive attitude in the face of his disease, which he takes in stride.
“I’m fortunate to be the kind of person where you tell me what I have to do, and I’m going to do it,” he says with a hint of humor in his voice.
Ralph loves the freedom the Liberty Select provides, allowing him to choose a therapy schedule that works best for him. He typically hooks up in the evening and watches TV with Molly while on the machine, but when life throws a curveball, he likes knowing he can adapt.
Ralph recalled a time in October of 2019 when he got a flat tire while returning from a visit with his kids in Brooklyn. “By the time we arrived home, it was 3:30 a.m.,” he said. “I brought the machine in, hooked up, and stayed on until like noon. It didn’t stop me from dialyzing.”
One of the other attractive attributes of PD and the Liberty Select, for Ralph, is that he can travel. A year after his kidneys failed, Ralph and Molly’s kids surprised them with the gift of a family beach vacation in South Carolina.
“It went great,” says Ralph. “I brought the cycler and a couple of days of supplies and had the rest delivered. I got to spend all the time with my family.” He even showed his granddaughters how PD dialysis works. “They wanted to see what I was doing. I explained how it worked and how it takes care of me, and they understood that.”
Ralph describes the Liberty Select cycler as intuitive and says the mobility of the rolling cart makes it user-friendly. In addition, the responsive customer service gives him a high level of confidence.
Looking back, Ralph credits his nurse for educating him about home dialysis. She told him some of the ways more frequent dialysis may be able to help him. Ralph is grateful for the classes he attended, which got him started on PD. “I’m not super tech savvy,” he admits. “But I’m also not afraid to try things.”
Given his success on PD, Ralph recently decided to become a Patient Advocate for NxStage Medical/Fresenius Medical Care North America, helping educate other dialysis patients about the potential benefits of therapy with the Liberty Select cycler.
“If I can come and talk to people and they can feel more comfortable hearing from an actual patient, I have no problem doing that,” says Ralph. “The fact that I can possibly offer some help to people that are on the fence (about therapy), that’s the biggest factor.”
The reported benefits of peritoneal dialysis may not be experienced by all patients. Peritoneal dialysis does involve some risks that may be related to the patient, center, or equipment. These include, but are not limited to, infectious complications. Examples of infectious complications include peritonitis and exit-site and tunnel infections. Non-infectious complications include catheter complication such as migration and obstruction, peritoneal leaks, constipation, hemoperitoneum, hydrothorax, increased intraperitoneal volume, and respiratory and gastric issues. It is important for healthcare providers to monitor patient prescriptions and achievement of adequate fluid management goals. Patients should consult their doctor to understand the risks and responsibilities of performing peritoneal dialysis.
Indications for Use: The Liberty Select cycler is indicated for acute and chronic peritoneal dialysis. The stay•safe PIN connectors are intended for use with a peritoneal dialysis (PD) cycler for drainage and infusion of PD solution during PD exchanges. The stay•safe PIN connectors are indicated for use in acute and chronic peritoneal dialysis.