In 1997, Gracie Castro faced the first of a succession of choices, all of which remain as relevant to her day-to-day living as the day she made them.
She learned she had kidney disease, and her first choice centered on where to receive the renal replacement therapy she would need to keep her alive. She picked Fresenius Medical Care Chula Vista, close to her family’s home in Bonita, California. But kidney patients need much more than dialysis, and Gracie knew her attitude, actions and spiritual faith would have a direct effect on how she managed her illness for the long haul.
Facing challenges with advice and support
When Gracie first became sick, her nephrologist advised her that her church could provide valuable support. Gracie believed it was additionally up to her to chart the best approach to her specific care needs and she chose to learn as much as possible about kidney disease and her life on dialysis.
“My main concern was to stay healthy. It isn’t just one thing, one vitamin or one medication. It’s a number of things all pulling together to a healthier life. I didn’t let the lack of knowledge rob me (of being) a healthier me.”
On an ongoing basis, Gracie asks questions of her dialysis health care team, including her doctor, nurses, patient care technician, dietitian and social worker. She follows her renal diet, takes medication as her doctor recommends, exercises and stays active. She also chose to pay her knowledge forward and joined Fresenius Medical Care North America’s Patient Advisory Board when it was created in 2009. She and fellow board members meet monthly with Clinical Services staff to share advice on patient education programs.
Looking to the future
“As a Fresenius Medical Care Patient Advisory Board member, I’m glad to be able to participate in the improvement of quality care within the dialysis clinics. As a dialysis patient, providing ideas and input makes a difference in the quality of care for now and the future.”
Gracie’s appreciation for the present moment and plans for the future lends itself to an active life with her husband, Tony, and their three sons and 15 grandchildren. It also keeps her engaged in her community and her hobbies, including travel.
“I can still live a fulfilled life and focus on the things I can do and be energized in a different direction,” she says. “A positive attitude makes a difference when having a demanding disease and is a way of staying encouraged and living one day at a time with hope for tomorrow.”