Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Kidney Community Celebrates the Life of Ted Lomax

This week I received an email from Gloria Lomax. Her beloved husband of nearly 58 years had "come home to go HOME." With family surrounding him, Ted Lomax passed away at the family home on February 2, 2011.

I knew Ted only vicariously, through my dear "penpal," Gloria. Through his obituary, I learned that Ted had helped raise his three siblings after his father's death when Ted was only nine. He worked for seven summers at Mount Rainier National Park during high school and college, and served in the US Army Air Corp. He was trained as an aeronautical engineer, earning UW bachelors and masters degrees. He was to meet his future wife Gloria at the UW, where Gloria majored in home economics. Ted Lomax worked at the Boeing Company as a structural loads engineer for 40 years. He authored a textbook "to bridge the gap beween historical structural loads applications and modern design." After retirement, he worked as a consultant for Aviation Partners until April 2010. Deeply committed to his faith, Ted was a leader in his church community as well.

What the obituary didn't mention was that Ted's very full life had been complicated by kidney failure and the need for kidney dialysis, beginning in October 2000. The couple trained in Home Dialysis in July 2002, and did home treatments until Ted's recent hip fracture prompted his move to a Skilled Nursing Facility.

Steve and I had the honor of meeting Gloria Lomax at the Northwest Kidney Centers' Breakfast of Hope in May 2009. Steve was sporting a "wound vac," an odd little device that helped him heal an enormous wound left by a failed kidney transplant three months before. We were back on Home Dialysis once again, and desperate for any encouragement the Breakfast of Hope might provide.

So we met this elegant, graceful woman in her late seventies who had commandeered Home Dialysis for years - getting only a little assistance from a granddaughter who'd stop by to hang the dialysate bags each day.

I was so inspired by this woman who took the challenges of Home Dialysis in stride - calmly doing it because she could, and because it was the best thing for Ted.

I especially appreciated Gloria's descriptions of times when Medic One had to be called. (It's a singular moment for all parties when the medics come. For all their skill and expertise, Home Dialysis can make even the most seasoned firefighter stop in his/her tracks!) I can just see Gloria on the phone with the Northwest Kidney Centers RN, delivering Ted's blood back to him while the Medic One crew administered oxygen. What courage Gloria had through all of this!

Since meeting Gloria at the Breakfast of Hope in 2009, Steve has been on his own medical rollercoaster, with multiple surgeries and multiple complications. I updated friends on Steve's condition through this blog as well as more personal emails to his more intimate circle of pals.

Gloria was on our email list as Steve's medical updates were disseminated. And it was Gloria who consistently spoke to me in the compassionate language of one who truly, truly understands.

She appreciated - as I did - "the comfortable time in between crises." Who else could know this so personally?

In our continuing correspondence, Gloria shared with me that Ted was declining. And when she wrote that he had passed, she expressed her relief that her beloved no longer suffers. Her faith is strong; the support of friends and family is sturdy.

But I ache at her loss as deeply as I respect her strength and wisdom.

The Memorial Service for Ted Lomax will be held Sunday, February 6 at 3:00 pm at John Knox Presbyterian Church in Normandy Park. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be designated to John Knox Presbyterian Church (109 SW Normandy Road; Seattle, WA 98166) or to The Northwest Kidney Centers (PO Box 3035; Seattle, WA 98114).

Take care,
Linda Gromko, MD
Addendum: Read "Caregiver Profile: Mrs. Gloria Lomax" on this blog, November 17, 2009.

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