Three times a week Andie Patterson rises before dawn breaks and makes her way to a medical office in Turlock where she spends the next five to six hours undergoing dialysis in an effort to keep complete kidney failure at bay.
The 46-year-old Turlock resident was born into a family with a history of kidney issues. Both her grandmother and aunt died at young ages because of kidney failure, so Patterson was aware of what could be in store for her future, but many individuals never know the dangers lurking in their kidneys until it is too late.
“The thing about kidneys is once you lose that function, you can never regain it fully back,” Patterson said. “It may improve just a tiny bit, but noting to where it should be. That’s why it’s important to find out if there is a decline and take steps that could help prevent a further loss of kidney function.”
Once kidney function drops to a certain point a person has to start undergoing dialysis, which is a process that cleans the blood, but can also strip patients of needed proteins. It’s a timely process that has to be done on a regular and frequent schedule.
“Being on dialysis, you can never really count on being well, but if I didn’t have it done, I wouldn’t even live a month,” Patterson said. “It’s something that you have to work into your lifestyle, but it’s not anything you would say you enjoy. In fact, on my first time I was looking at the door and giving serious thought to just running out.”
Patterson hopes she can spare other people from ending up on dialysis by helping spread the word of the National Kidney Foundation and their effort to raise awareness on kidney issues. The NKF is using the Keep Healthy campaign to raise awareness about the kidneys, risk factors for kidney disease, and steps to take to keep kidneys healthy and reduce risk. The two leading cause of kidney failure are uncontrolled high blood pressure and uncontrolled diabetes, according to the NKF.
KEEP Healthy incorporates nearly two decades of the NKF’s experience providing national kidney health screenings and risk assessment activities. It is intended for individuals 18 years of age or older and includes a brief health survey, blood pressure check, body mass index measurement, urine test for protein, nutrition education, healthcare resource info as needed, and an opportunity to speak with a clinician. Program participants receive a copy of their results and are encouraged to discuss them with a healthcare provider. If they do not have a provider, NKF will offer information on how to find a medical home.
“Chronic Kidney Disease impacts one in seven people, many of whom aren’t aware they have it, hence the need for screenings to enable early detection and improved outcomes,” said Lauren Gard, a spokesperson for Satellite Healthcare, a not-for-profit dialysis services provider that serves more than 6,800 patients, including Patterson at their Turlock branch.
The KEEP Healthy program will be coming to Turlock from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 14 and are prepared to screen 150 people who are at risk for kidney disease. The screening will be at Pitman High School at 2525 Christoffersen Parkway. Participants must pre-register and can do so by calling 888-427-5653 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.