Lifestyle

Bub Dennis: Health issues can't keep him from riding strong

By Elaine Porterfield

Bub Dennis can be forgiven for being a mite tired, what with the six-hour horseback ride on Taylor Mountain the previous day on Jet, his Tennessee Walker.

“Also, I probably did too much the day before that pruning trees,” Bub mused, “I was up and down a ladder for about three hours.”

Bub, who turned 80 on April 12, is apparently unstoppable. Yes, the Maple Valley resident may be advancing in years, and yes, he may be grappling with chronic kidney failure along with prostate cancer, but none of it is any reason to hit the recliner. At least as far as he’s concerned.

And that’s a key message Dennis wants people to know about kidney disease: it doesn’t mean the end of an active lifestyle. It’s a message that should resonate with many: One in seven American adults—more than 30 million people—have chronic kidney disease. It is progressive and irreversible, although that progression can be slowed through lifestyle changes and careful attention to diet and medication.

Dennis is part of the 17 percent of Northwest Kidney Centers’ patients who give themselves dialysis at home. The life-saving treatment replaces his kidney function, filtering waste products out of his blood. Across the country, only 8.5 percent of patients do dialysis themselves rather than visit a dialysis center three times a week. Home dialysis is convenient and excellent for health—patients on home dialysis have a 61 percent higher survival rate than patients who dialyze in a center.

“I would recommend doing home dialysis,” Dennis said during a recent March day as he reflected on Kidney Health Month. “It frees you to do things during the day.”

Bub’s kidney issues began two decades ago. “I went to have a back operation,” he recalled. “They took my blood for some tests and came back and said I had kidney problems. So I started going to a specialist every three to four months, and my kidney function stayed at about the same level for those 20 years. I didn’t have any medical effects or anything. Finally, last spring, my kidney doctor said I’d better go on dialysis."

Recently, the Boeing retiree found out he has prostate cancer, but it hasn’t spread. He’ll begin radiation treatments later in April.

Meanwhile, he’s spending his time riding horses, caring for his acreage and enjoying his family. The Bozeman, Mont., native was raised riding horses, and he’s pleased that some of his two children, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren enjoy riding as well.

“It’s going good,” Bub said. “I really feel pretty good.”

For further information about kidney disease, visit www.nwkidney.org, the Northwest Kidney Centers website.

 

Elaine Porterfield is a freelance writer based in Seattle. She wrote this article on behalf of Northwest Kidney Centers.

 

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