Washington DC VA Medical Center
Living Well with Kidney Disease
March is National Kidney Month and for Army Veteran Raymond Scott and his family --it’s personal. They set out in an RV, March 2, on a month-long journey from Phoenix, Arizona to New York to help raise awareness of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). They have stops planned along the way to participate in various awareness walks and outreach events and to pick up necessary supplies for the home dialysis Mr. Scott receives five days a week in the comfort of this RV.
An unexpected illness for Mr. Scott brought the family for a brief stay at the Washington DC VA Medical Center. “I’ve had exceptional care at the VA facilities at home and wherever I go,” Mr. Scott said.
For many with CKD who depend on dialysis, long travels like this are out of the question because of the need to be close to a dialysis center. According to Mr. Scott’s wife, Analyn, the dialysis unit in their RV affords them the freedom to do the things that are important; like helping spread the word about CKD prevention and giving hope to those newly diagnosed.
“It’s important for people to know that CKD is not a death sentence, life is filled with opportunities, just plan, dialyze and go live your full life,” Mr. Scott said. In spite of his serious condition, they have traveled all over the world, including Jamaica, Italy and Hawaii.
Ms. Scott says they do a lot of planning ahead and when they travel by RV, they have three days of supplies and have arranged multiple shipments to be sent ahead to future destinations. When traveling by air, they make arrangements with dialysis centers across the world. “It just takes a lot of pre-planning, but it’s so worth it,” she says.
Being on the open road this month with their two children, Keyon and Brooklyn; spreading their message of hope helps give meaning to their lives. The Scott family is on a mission to encourage more research and innovative treatments and to educate others on how to prevent CKD. Mr. Scott calls Analyn his “fierce bulldog”. “She is my chief advocate, actually she’s the driving force behind our mission,” Mr. Scott says.
“One in nine people have kidney disease and don’t even know it, until it is too late and the damage is irreversible,” Ms. Scott says. “It’s so important for people to be screened, have blood tests, urine tests, know their blood pressure, and monitor their diabetes.” If caught early, CKD’s progression can be slowed or even stopped with lifestyle changes and medications. If left untreated, however, the disease can lead to kidney failure with only two treatment options, dialysis or a kidney transplant.
“We are really excited about the future but there is still a lot that needs to be done,” Ms. Scott says. There are so many new treatments on the horizon and so much work to do to improve the longevity of those with kidney disease.
At the end of the month, the family will travel back to Arizona and the children will resume their normal lives with friends and school. But for Raymond and Analyn Scott, the work continues. They are planning another trip out west in June to participate in more kidney disease outreach events.
Mr. Scott said “There are 26 million Americans with kidney disease and most don’t even know they have it. We have a lot of work to do.”