Stayin’ alive

A kidney dialysis/transplant diary


I’ve been thinking sbout Catherine this week.  She was one of the first dialysis patients I buddied up with in the waiting room.

Large, boisterous and black, she was in her 70s but still had a lust for life, loved opera and an occasional bottle of wine.  She was still looking for Mr. Right or at least Mr. Right Now. She had no time for weepy men.  She liked them strong and a bit randy, at least enough not to be shocked by her own ribald sense of humor.

She laughed easily and had her opinions, voiced strongly and often, on most topics of  discussion around the large table in the waiting room.

She held no truck with death. An understandable attitude for many dialysis patients since death seems to walk  only a small step behind us. When the husband of a friend – longtime to Catherine but new to me – died, I asked Catherine if she intended to be at the funeral. “I don’t do funerals,” she said, a tinge of  gruffness in her voice.

Because I was asked to change my dialysis days, our paths seldom crossed the past year. I missed talking with her but didn’t carry the thought far enough to call her. Several weeks ago I learned from talk in the waiting room that Catherine had decided to discontinue her dialysis and let nature take its course, a certain and relatively quick death.

After 20-plus years she said “no more” following her December 27 session. She is tired: tired of the treatments; tired of the deadly boredom and butt-numbing time spent in the chair; tired of  the poking and prodding; tired of the constant denial of food and drink required; tired of not being able to travel unless arrangements are made well ahead of time; tired of feeling tired; tired of fighting an uphill battle with health issues; tired of kidney disease being the center of her life,

As of Wednesday, she was in a local hospice. Her pacemaker was turned off and her medicines discontinued except for a medicine that calms her stomach and allows her to eat. The visitor who told me these things said eating whatever she wanted was one of her last wishes.

Choosing death is not an easy decision to make. She and her family are at peace with it, the visitor said, and Catherine is “her old self,” laughing, telling stories and enjoying her last days.

When she passes, I wish her a beautiful aria playing, no pain, and loving arms to greet her.


January 3, 2009 - Posted by | diabetes, dialysis, fistula, health, kidney, renal diet, weight loss


  1. This is a wonderful tribute to Catherine. Thanks for writting it.

    Comment by Cindy | January 6, 2009 | Reply

  2. Reminds me of my mom.. God bless you.

    Comment by Subashini | February 27, 2009 | Reply

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