Larry Rhodes has always liked his sports. As is his usual practice, a tennis match was on the large screen TV in the living room and although the volume was turned down, he could still occasionally glance at the set.
“I like to keep track of how the Canadians are doing,” Rhodes said. “So-so today.”
Born and having spent much of his life in Trail, he says he was “fairly active,” playing tennis, softball, and umpiring for almost 30 years for local ball games, until a knee injury limited his participation.
Then in 1990 he encountered a situation that he says truly limited his activities.
“I had kidney stones and went to the doctor,” said Rhodes. “He didn’t like the blood work and sent me to a nephrologist. I was diagnosed with polycystic kidneys.”
Rhodes has been designated the 2013 regional honoree for the Kidney Walk in Trail, which will be next Sunday, at Gyro Park from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The annual Kidney Walk is a fundraising and awareness initiative of The Kidney Foundation of Canada, B.C. Branch, that has raised over $860,000 for kidney patients in B.C. since its start in 2008. The goal of this year’s walk is to raise $340,000 province-wide.
Kidney disease is an under-recognized, incurable condition, that has increased 60 per cent in Canada over the last ten years and is now estimated to affect one in 10 Canadians.
After Rhodes was diagnosed with kidney disease he says he tried fighting it, modifying his diet and food intake but once his kidney function had fallen to about 13 per cent in 2000, he no longer had any choice, he had to go on dialysis.
“Three times a week, in by 7 a.m. out by noon,” said Rhodes. “At the end of every dialysis run you feel pretty drained but there’s no avoiding it. With kidney disease you only have three options; dialysis, transplant, or dying.
“It’s hard to make any long term plans and hard to go anywhere because you always have to make sure you get your (dialysis) run in three times a week. You can book into renal units at other hospitals if you’re travelling but it makes everything more complicated.”
Kidney disease is frequently undetectable in its early stages and often patients don’t notice any symptoms until their kidney function has decreased by 50 per cent.
Some of the more common symptoms that may occur include; fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, frequent night-time urination, puffiness of ankles, feet, or eyes, and shortness of breath.
Among the highest risk factors of kidney disease are; diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and a family history of kidney disease.
Rhodes says he has been on the transplant list for some time, and is probably getting closer to being eligible, but that you just have to wait your turn.
“It becomes very complex, there are a number of factors to suitability to (be eligible for) transplant. You go through a battery of tests and you have to worry about availability, blood type, what kind of shape you’re in,” said Rhodes. “When you get near the top you could get a call anytime. But you never know.”
The Kidney Foundation suggests there are several ways to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease, many of which are regularly recommended for better overall fitness and health benefits:
Keep fit and active, which helps to reduce blood pressure. Keep regular control of your blood sugar level if you have diabetes. Monitor your blood pressure and reduce salt intake. Don’t smoke cigarettes and don’t take over-the-counter pain killers on a regular basis.
For more information and for those interested in registering for Sunday’s Walk or making a donation can go online at www.kidney.ca/bcwalk and scroll down “Interior B.C” and click on Trail walk.