(The following is an article Sabine recently submitted for the Wisconsin Dialysis Center Newsletter)
At first this was extremely overwhelming! I had only retired five years earlier from policing at age 50 and had many plans including visiting our adult children spread across five states. I chose early retirement because my husband, David Couper, who had retired from the Madison Police Department five years earlier, was older than I was and I wanted to be able to spend more time with him. Dialysis, however, complicated everything – or so I thought.
My HMO would only pay for my treatments at the Wisconsin Dialysis Center so it was not feasible for us to consider doing any out-state travel. I was devastated because I knew our children had limited time to get away from their jobs and busy lives. Six months into our thrice-weekly clinic dialysis schedule we were presented with an alternative – home hemodialysis. It would require training, but would permit us to travel. For the past three years we have gone to Florida two weeks during the winter season. Home dialysis permitted us to continue to have a winter vacation in a sunny and warm place. So, two years ago, we purchased a slide-in camper for our pickup truck and drove to Glacier Park, hiked, camped, and dialyzed in, perhaps, some of the most beautiful mountain settings! This year we have two more road trips – house boating on the Mississippi with kids and grandkids and, in the fall, going to Branson, Missouri.
All of this, however, has not been smooth sailing! It took three failed fistulas before we were able to button hole and get rid of the tunnel catheter in my chest. I was fortunate enough to be able to receive a stem cell transplant in the Spring of 2009. This put my cancer under control for a while and I was working toward getting on the kidney transplant list and possible transplant if my cancer behaved itself for 24 months. I didn’t and it returned. I was back on chemotherapy and, again, devastated. I gave myself twenty-four hours to cry, feel sorry for myself, and used word I hadn’t used since our children arrived!
Each of us has a responsibility to live our lives fully and celebrate our life every day.