Chuck Bowden keeps on going and deals daily with kidney disease
By Cynthia Flash
Chuck Bowden is like the Energizer Bunny – he just keeps going and going and going.
After retiring as a technical writer and product planner from Fluke Corp. in Everett, Chuck and his wife, Tessa, moved to West Seattle. Now he’s a super volunteer repairing electronics at the Senior Center of West Seattle’s Stop ’N Shop Thrift Store.
In addition to electronics, he enjoys photography, astronomy, sailing, cooking and, most of all, spending time with his grandchildren. And in between other activities, he undergoes kidney dialysis five times a week at home.
Chuck’s health problems began when he was 29 due to a rare autoimmune disorder. He was racing a sailboat in Vancouver, B.C. and came home sick with a fever. Initially diagnosed with a virus, he eventually learned that his kidneys had failed and that survival would require dialysis to remove waste and fluid from his body.
After four months of three-times-a-week dialysis in a clinic, he received a kidney transplant. That kidney served him for 24 years until about a year ago, sending Chuck back onto dialysis.
“I started hearing and reading about home dialysis. I said, `I want to do that,’ so my wife and I took the home dialysis introduction class at Northwest Kidney Centers. It’s really brought us closer together,” said Chuck, who now receives dialysis at home five days a week.
Tessa sets up the machine and Chuck spends the three hours he’s connected researching things on the Internet, planning items he wants to make and listening to audiobooks.
Following his treatments, he walks a block from his apartment to the senior center or 1.6 miles to his own workshop at a nearby ActivSpace location.
This time of year is especially important to Chuck because March is National Kidney Month and March 12 is World Kidney Day. Fifteen percent of Americans have chronic kidney disease, and the vast majority, 90%, of those don’t know it because kidney damage usually occurs without symptoms.
Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of kidney disease. Those with a family history of kidney disease as well as people of African American, Asian American or Native American descent have a greater risk of kidney disease. People who are overweight and those over age 60 are also at risk.
Find out if you are at risk by taking the quiz at www.nwkidney.org/quiz.
“People with a risk factor for kidney disease should have their doctors check their blood pressure and do appropriate lab tests, such as possible blood and urine tests to check their kidney health,” said Dr. Suzanne Watnick, chief medical officer at Northwest Kidney Centers.
“The advice that works for heart health is also good for kidney health: eat a healthy diet, be active for 30 minutes five days a week and don’t put harmful things into your body. All of us should minimize the salt we eat by cutting back on fast food and processed foods. And know that long-term use of drugstore NSAID pain relievers such as ibuprofen and naproxen, with brand names such as Aleve and Advil, can be hard on kidneys,” Watnick said.
Eventually, Chuck hopes to get a kidney transplant. He says he’s surprised how little people know about kidney transplants and urges them to find out more at www.livingdonorvm.org
Northwest Kidney Centers offers these tips to keep your kidneys healthy
• Follow prescribed treatments to control diabetes and/or high blood pressure.
• Lose extra weight with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
• Eat less salt by limiting fast food and processed food.
• Don’t overuse over-the-counter pain medicines.
• Don’t smoke.
• Ask your doctor to test you for kidney disease.
Find more information about kidney disease prevention and treatment at www.nwkidney.org.
Great article, Chuck! Thanks for sharing...see you around the Senior Center when it opens back up :)