James, now 61, had always considered himself healthy. An exercise enthusiast, he biked 25 miles daily. Then, one day, he began suffering debilitating headaches, and he set up an appointment at his physician's office. After some routine blood tests, James' doctor confirmed a shocking truth: James' kidneys were near total failure. He also had high blood pressure, and his rigorous exercise schedule was likely the only thing that had prevented him from suffering a stroke. Not yet 50 years old and having felt healthy all of his life, James admits he couldn't believe the diagnosis: "I was stubborn, didn't want to accept it and I walked out of the doctor's office," he says. But, within the next week, James's body was so filled with fluid that he was forced to go to the hospital, where he immediately began dialysis treatments to survive.
For the next five years, James adhered to a grueling schedule of treatments at a local dialysis center, three to four times each week for three to four hours each session. After treatments, he said he often felt so lightheaded and tired he would need to wait some time before driving home and would then sleep and not feel better until the following day. James says he spent these years of his life "feeling okay only three or four days out of each week" and was sick often, sometimes having pneumonia two or three times in a given year. Once an active handyman and plumber, he quit his job due to hours spent at the center and feeling ill.
He then learned about a clinical trial at IU Health University Hospital in Indianapolis for a new treatment using the NxStage System One, a portable dialysis device that would not only enable him to do treatments at home but also on a more frequent basis, more like a healthy functioning kidney. At first, James admits he was skeptical of the idea of dialyzing in his home. Eventually, however, a nurse at the center convinced him to try NxStage, and once he began training and doing treatments, James says "I was hooked and wanted to stick with it because of how much better I felt." Within just one week of more frequent dialysis treatments with NxStage, James says he felt a "vast improvement" in his overall health. A self-described "hands-on kind of guy" and very independent, he found he loved learning how the treatment worked and having more control of and participation in his own care.
That was seven years ago. Today, James continues to enjoy what he says are the most important aspects for him: feeling better and spending less time at dialysis treatments in a center. He has more time to spend with his significant other and trained NxStage partner, Darlene, and more energy for their extended family, including sons, daughters, nieces and nephews who frequently visit. He even returned to work doing plumbing and insulation jobs. He recommends NxStage to other kidney disease patients and is happy to be celebrating a milestone of seven years of improved health. Also important is that he looks forward to the future because, as James says, "with better health and independence I am a more confident person."