Sunday, March 16, 2014

What was Sidney the Kidney Doing at the Rat City Roller Girls' 10th-Year Anniversary Bout?

Hey, I know that blue kidney-shaped figure standing in the distance! It was Sidney the Kidney in the stands of the Rat City Roller Girls' 10th-Year Anniversary Bout held in Seattle's Key Arena March 15. 

Don't know Sidney? Here's a picture Sid with Steve, Dr. Thakur, and me at a Northwest Kidney Centers Breakfast of Hope a lifetime ago:

Dr. Smiley Thakur, at left, with Sidney, Steve and me.

Sidney was visiting the Rat City Roller Girls crowd to remind us all that March is International Kidney Month. And to remind us that 1 in 9 people have kidney disease, though most don't know it. Sidney recommended that we all check with our health care provders about our own risk factors and kidney status.

Thanks, Sidney, for reaching out!

Take care,
Linda Gromko, MD

Monday, March 10, 2014

My Recent Visit to Bangkok Kidney Center: Travel if you Can!

I recently had an opportunity to attend a medical conference in Bangkok, Thailand - the trip of a lifetime. Bangkok is enormous - a bustling mix of eight million people, hundreds of glorious temples, and an abundance of tropical sun. The trip from Seattle took twenty hours each way - and it was worth every minute of the journey.

It's sad to recognize that I am more mobile since Steve died, and it made me think, "What would we have done to make such a trip?" Granted, we did travel with our NxStage machine and Steve dialyzed in our hotel during domestic travel. But international travel is more of a challenge. My curiosity led me to consult the concierge at the Anantara Resort where the medical conference was held. He directed me to Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital ( and to Nisarat Jaidee, MD. A visit to the center was arranged.

With Sirinapa Cheethanaghai at
left, and Dr. Nisarat at right
Dr. Nisarat and the staff welcomed me graciously. They guided me through the
dialysis center: a spotless, airy unit consisting of fifteen dialysis stations. The beds were separated by permanent partitians, not curtains. I recognized the Fresenius dialysis machines - the same type used in Seattle. I imagine that such familiar equipment would be comforting to traveling patents. And clearly, there is an atmosphere of professionalism and respect among the staff.

The staff consists primarily of RNs,
mostly medical-surgical nurses who
have received advanced training in hemodalysis. Central line access and fistula punctures are performed by Registered Nurses at this center. Line infections are rare.

Dialysis patients traveling in Thailand may make advance arrangements for treatment in Sumitivej Sukhumvit Hospital. Treatments are available six days a week, Sundays excluded. As in the US, most in-center patients dialyze three times a week, with treatments lasting four hours. Thailand hosts many patients for surgeries and treatments of all types.

Dr. Nisarat and the kind group of nurses explained that kidney disease is a growing problem in Thailand - usually the result of diabetes or hypertension, as in the US. Kidney transplants are encouraged. Home dialysis is generally peritoneal dialysis and is performed by RNs. I also learned that patients rarely ask to stop dialysis.

Near the entrance of the dialysis center was a lovely photo of patient celebrations, i.e., birthdays and such. Clearly, these nurses care deeply about their patients - just as the dialysis nurses in Seattle do!

 I valued my visit with the dialysis staff in Bangkok, and I wouldn't hesitate to have a patient or family member dialyze at the Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital while traveling in Thailand! How unfortunate it would be to miss a visit to Thailand - truly the "Land of Smiles!"

Take care,
Linda Gromko, MD