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Twenty-nine year old Tracie has many passions in her life: her 3 1/2-year-old son, her husband, her family, singing, and shopping. She also has a passion for two foods that can cause problems for people with kidney disease. “I would love to eat french fries and chocolate all day,” she confesses. But for peritoneal dialysis (PD) patient Tracie, being able to make choices about what she eats is a part of taking control of her life with kidney disease.
In April of 1999, Tracie was diagnosed with kidney failure resulting from FSGS (focal segmental glomerulosclerosis). She underwent hemodialysis while pregnant, with a lot of trials and tribulations. “I am a tiny person to begin with; before I was pregnant I only weighed 86 pounds,” Tracie says. “When I was on hemodialysis my weight dropped. That’s when I knew I needed to take control over my life and my health.”
A member of her healthcare team suggested that Tracie try PD. After meeting with a renal dietitian who worked with people on PD, Tracie learned about her limits and requirements, including getting enough protein. She was delighted to learn that her PD diet would have few modifications. “When they told me I could drink more and eat more things, that really made me decide to try it,” Tracie recalls. “PD gives me a lot of freedom.”
Because her PD diet is flexible, making the adjustment to a PD meal plan was not difficult for Tracie. In fact, she hasn’t really altered what she cooks for her family. Still, PD patients, like most people on dialysis, must modify some things like phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and calories in their diet. “I watch what I eat. For example, if I’m going to a family picnic, I don’t eat that many barbecued beans,” she explains. “I might try a little taste of the beans, but I don’t make anyone cook anything special for me.”
When she first started hemodialysis, Tracie did find herself depressed about her food choices. “So many things were ‘off-limits.’ My family would say, ‘You can’t eat this or you can’t eat that,’” Tracie remembers. Now, Tracie has a more flexible PD diet—and a more flexible attitude. Tracie believes that many people would be less depressed about their kidney disease if they took more control over their treatment, including food choices. “Some people say they’ve totally removed favorite foods from their diet,” she says. “I can’t do that because I love certain things too much. I monitor myself and don’t over-indulge, but there are some things, like chocolate and potatoes, that I just cannot give up completely—so I limit myself to small amounts and make trade-offs.” Like many successful dialysis patients, Tracie knows that moderation makes sense.
For Tracie, PD has made all the difference in her life with kidney disease. “I would encourage PD for anybody who can do it,” she declares. “It’s less wear and tear on the body and it makes me feel good. Whoever invented PD had a good idea!”
This patient has granted Baxter International Inc. permission to use this personal story for purposes of educating others about peritoneal dialysis.
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