Renard Williams has seen more than his share of health problems. Diabetes, obesity, and kidney failure take up full chapters of his medical history. But no matter how severe or unexpected the diagnosis, one condition has remained constant – a chronic “positive attitude” combined with high levels of patience, discipline, and self-empowerment.
No stranger to dialysis therapy, Renard faithfully used a PD Cycler every night for four years. Though grateful for the ability to treat at home, he also kept the faith that he’d one day receive a new kidney. Thanks to an organ donor and answered prayers, the only machines he’s on these days are at the gym.
With a new kidney and newer lease on life, Renard took some time to talk about the struggles he has faced and how he overcame them through a combination of family, friends, faith, and fortitude.
On how it feels to have a new kidney: I’ve definitely seen a spike in my energy, and a spike in wanting to do more than I did beforehand. If I want to go to the gym I can just roll over and go. I just feel this need to do something (active).
On choosing freedom…and Liberty®: The news was difficult, but choosing a therapy was not. Renard chose peritoneal dialysis with the Liberty Select Peritoneal Dialysis Cycler- for a variety of reasons. For one, a close friend with kidney disease had been very happy with their results on PD therapy. Second was a love of travel, and Liberty’s portability made it ideal for trips, whether across town or across the globe.
“(With PD) we just never stopped traveling,” Renard remembers. “Our attitude was Whatever we do, we do, we just have to make sure to make room for these boxes (of supplies).”
But the biggest appeal PD had for Renard was the control over his therapy caring for his own equipment, dialyzing on his own schedule, and not spending hours in the car and at the clinic three days a week, as would have been the case with in-center dialysis. Being home also allowed for better oversight of meal times, choices and preparation, helping Renard to manage his diet and weight. He was determined to be the most adherent patient he could be.
Just the thought of having to deal with blood and needles as opposed to not – also, to not have to go to dialysis appointments at a certain time, that was plus to me. And I didn’t feel the limits (often associated with dialysis). After in-center dialysis, people talk about how tired and drained they feel. I didn’t feel that way after my PD treatments at home.
On keeping accountable with treatments: I put it like this … If you have a young child, you know every night, no matter how much that child gets on your nerves, you’re going to give that child dinner and a bath and take care of the child. PD was my child. At 9:30, 10 o’clock each night it was just “OK, it’s time to set up the machine, time to take care of the baby.” It becomes something you do secondhand.
On his decision to have gastric bypass surgery: Back in 2013, I was the heaviest I’ve ever been (about 440 lbs). I was sitting on the beach with my family, and after about 10 minutes, I just couldn’t get up. I thought “OK this is embarrassing.” Then I got on the scale and I said, “I have to do something about this.”
On having a support system: My faith and my wife were #1 and #1A. My wife was 100% incredible, and still is to this day. My attitude was not always great, and I’d have those days when I would just sit there and cry. My wife would just talk to me and help me, and never had a negative word to say about it. Your support system is so important.
On being an adherent patient: I have a favorite saying when it comes to working with doctors and nurses. “I’m not here to cause trouble. I’m here to make your job as easy as possible.” I don’t want them to roll their eyes and put their hands on their heads when they see me coming. Healthy living and strict adherence to treatments made Renard a strong candidate for a transplant, and his dedication paid off Sept. 13, 2019, when he received a new kidney!
On his dialysis team: They were rock stars, and I’ve become friends with everyone in that clinic. My nutritionist, the social workers, all the nurses, the lady at the front desk, the manager, doctors. They were a godsend to me the whole time. They were always there.
On traveling while doing PD: We always had family trips and things of that nature. I’d pick up the machine, pick up some bags, and just go. Whether it was Atlanta for a baby shower or Florida, or us going on our annual cruise, we just never stopped traveling. Our attitude was “Whatever we do, we do, we just have to make sure to make room for these boxes.”
On how kidney disease changed his outlook: When you’re healthy you take things for granted. You take for granted private time with your wife, going to the park and laughing, time with family. You think “I don’t want to be bothered with them.” Once you go through something like this, you appreciate family, you appreciate life, you appreciate everything you get to do.
On his Facebook page: I started the Facebook page because I was a participant in a class as part of my transplant evaluation process. I learned how to promote myself and be proud of the journey that I was on. That this was my new job. Even though it didn’t pay cash, it paid something else so precious. My life!
I use the page now to talk to the people who follow me about my post-transplant journey. This is now my testimony to help someone else. Someone reached out to my wife just two days ago. What she watched me and wife go through inspired her. You’re helping people and you don’t even know you’re helping.
On goals for the future: I guess it’s just to help other patients understand PD. A couple of people at my clinic are already doing PD because of me. There are doctors who don’t even give patients that option! I’m looking at it like this… “I don’t know what my next step is but the kidney journey and the kidney fight is going to be part of it.”