Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Caregiver Profile: Mrs.Gloria Lomax

When Steve and I attended the Northwest Kidney Centers' Breakfast of Hope in May 2009, we had the pleasure of meeting Mrs.Gloria Lomax. We were told that she and her husband were in their eighties, and that Mrs. Lomax had been her husband's Dialysis Assistant for many years.

Actually, Mrs. Lomax is 79 (she looks easily 10-15 years younger!); her husband Ted is 83. They started on the Dialysis Road in October 2000 at the Mount Rainier Center until space opened up at the Cascade Kidney Center, 1 1/2 miles from their home. The couple trained for four weeks in July 2002, and started using the Braun machine for three treatments per week at home. They took a refresher course in 2003 to begin using the Aksys PHD (Personal Home Dialysis), and began dialyzing five times a week at home. When the Northwest Kidney Centers converted to NxStage machines, the couple went home with NxStage in February 2007.

Does she have any difficulty in setting up for the runs? Mrs. Lomax told me that her helpful granddaughter stops by almost every day after high school to hang the dialysate bags, but that otherwise, the couple manages on their own.

I asked Mrs. Lomax if she'd had any formal training as a health care worker which might have made it easier to adapt to Home Dialysis. She replied that she majored in Home Econonomics at the UW, and taught for 1 1/2 years before their first child arrived in 1955. Four more children came over the next ten years, and Mrs. Lomax was a full time homemaker. Between 1980-2000, she served as a volunteer in the area of refugee settlement, teaching English as a second language and helping with housing, job skills, transportation, and addressing other areas of need.

I asked Mrs. Lomax if the couple had had any "white knuckle" moments while doing Home Dialysis.

She wrote, "Yes, I have had two very frightening experiences when I had to call 911 while Ted was on his dialysis machine. In November 2006, he became very sick during dialysis and was almost unconscious when the medics arrived. They gave him oxygen, and waited while I got him off the machine with the help of the on-call Home Training nurse....I gave the phone to a fireman who passed on instructions to me (I needed both hands). Friends driving by saw the aid car and stopped. They were sent by God for comfort, support, and to help to clean up." Mr. Lomax spent a couple of nights at Swedish Hospital, with the cause of his symptoms undetermined.

In May 2007, Mr. Lomax had an apparent seizure while on dialysis. Mrs. Lomax was able to "get his blood back and (get him) off the machine while the medics administered oxygen." But, as she pointed out, "these were our two biggest crises in our seven-and-a-half years of home dialysis. Most weeks, things run very smoothly, but I don't hesitate to call the Training nurse if there is an alarm I can't resolve. I am always amazed that the one on call can picture the problem, calmly make suggestions that work, and stay with me on the phone until the machine is happy again. We feel supported and blessed on this adventurous journey."

I saw Mrs. Lomax again at the Renal Support Network Patient Lifestyle Meeting on October 17, when we shared our new book, "Arranging Your Life When Dialysis Comes Home: 'The Underwear Factor.'" Jane McClure and I had mentioned her story in our book, and she said she had never been called a 'heroine."

Well, I am here to say that this lovely, gracious woman is one of my true heroines. If she can do it, maybe I can too. Thank you, Mrs. Lomax, for your inspirational example of calm and grace. You are, in every respect, a stellar role model.
Take care. Linda Gromko, MD

No comments:

Post a Comment