Elderly Burien man ‘didn’t understand how big of a problem kidney disease is…’


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By Cynthia Flash

Burien resident Gerry Crouch looks back and realizes that perhaps he didn’t take the warning signs seriously enough. High blood pressure. Prostate issues. Time in the hospital. Suggestions from his physicians that he pursue additional tests.

But now he knows. Those warning signs were telling him that his kidneys were in danger. In December 2015, his damaged kidneys stopped working altogether. Since then, the former bank manager has undergone regular kidney dialysis at Northwest Kidney Centers’ Renton clinic. The dialysis machine does the work his kidneys no longer can, cleansing his blood of wastes and extra fluid.

Initially, Crouch struggled with being sick and his new lifestyle centered on four-hour dialysis treatments three times a week. But now that he is used to it, Crouch is settling in.

“I went to classes and was happy to make a decision for dialysis in a center rather than doing it myself at home. The kidney center does a great job. I’ve been happy with the results,” he said.

“I ended up deciding to take things one step at a time. There’s so much to adjust to. It takes time for your body to heal. I’ve grown more patient. I had to learn. Life is learning experiences,” he added.

Crouch is back to exercising three times a week. And once a month he leads an Alzheimer’s caregiver support group meeting at the SeaTac Community Center. He’s found that a satisfying way to give back after first-hand experience with his mom’s dementia before she died at 101.

His experience in the hospital, being so ill, was a dark night of the soul, he said. In the end, Crouch said, he came to an affirmative decision to live rather than surrendering to chronic kidney failure, which is fatal without dialysis or a kidney transplant.

“The turning point was deciding that I was going to go ahead to do dialysis and the encouragement I got to do that. I’m happy I did this because I feel that everything has stabilized.”

Crouch, 81, said he was amazed to learn how many people have kidney disease – 1 in 10 American adults.

“I didn’t understand how big of a problem kidney disease is. The kidney center in Renton has 40 chairs and they’re full all the time. So it’s a much more extensive problem than I was aware of and also, people there are all the different ages.”

He hopes that by telling his story, others will be aware of kidney disease as well—and that they’ll heed the warning signs they get from their body and doctors.

While kidney disease is common and harmful, it is also treatable. Lifestyle changes and medication can delay or prevent chronic kidney failure. Here are tips to keep kidneys healthy:

  1. Have your kidneys checked regularly, especially if you are 60 or older, are obese, have high blood pressure, diabetes, or a family history of kidney disease. These factors raise your risk.
  2. Monitor your blood pressure.
  3. Control your blood sugar.
  4. Avoid or limit over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
  5. Eat less salt—no more than 2,000 milligrams of sodium per day. That means paying attention to salt hidden in processed food and cooking from scratch more often.
  6. Exercise.
  7. Don’t smoke.

If you have questions, ask your doctor or check out Northwest Kidney Centers’ website, www.nwkidney.org.

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Comments

2 Responses to “Elderly Burien man ‘didn’t understand how big of a problem kidney disease is…’”
  1. Share to care says:

    Thank you for sharing valuable life instructions. I learned somrpething from your story. Most people don’t think about how to care for the human body until something breaks down and forces us to urgent medical care. It saves us money and improves our life when we agree to take good care of our health. It may not seem like fun to make good food choices but the consequences of not caring are unnecessary pain and suffering.

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  2. Wondering says:

    Thank you for your courage in sharing personal information to help others. Keep up the good work!

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