Freedom Found in Home Dialysis

In 2006, Nancy Potter underwent back surgery and had a series of ordinary lab results completed as part of the process. But when the results came back, they told a story that was anything but ordinary. Doctors informed Nancy that her kidneys showed signs of wear. A few years later, her estimated glomerular filtration rate (eFGR) dropped significantly.

It was at that point that Nancy received a chronic kidney failure diagnosis and learned she would need dialysis several times a week. The news was difficult but made even more so when Nancy realized she’d have to travel two hours round trip several times a week to receive dialysis treatment in The Dalles—a major change and commitment for Nancy and her husband.

“I don’t drive anymore because my blood pressure drops too easily so I have to depend on my husband to take me places,” she said. “My car was getting pretty beat up and wearing out. And my body had a hard time getting used to [the drive and treatments]—my blood pressure dropped a lot.”

After a year of commuting back and forth to The Dalles, Nancy realized other options existed and found a new measure of freedom in home dialysis. 

“I started hearing about how much more convenient it could be,” she said. “So, I talked to the nurse and she set me up with appointments to get trained.” 

Nancy spent a week in Portland getting trained and then headed home with all her new supplies. Now she manages two treatments a day from her own home. 

While there’s still a lot of work and a firm schedule required, Nancy is glad to have the option to receive her life sustaining treatment at home – especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It’s a lot of work to do at-home treatment,” she said. “There’s a lot of stuff – boxes, bags, cords, but you get your freedom out of it. At a facility I would have to go three times a week, and I was stuck in the chair. At home you can be a little mobile.” 

And transitioning to at home care has been made easier by the support of her doctors and staff. 

“The staff has been excellent,” said Nancy. “f I have any questions I can just call and ask. It can get a little tricky but it’s been really helpful to have them. I can get help with my ordering, talk to my dietician, anything I need.”