Encouraging chronic disease patients, their family, & employers throughKNOWLEDGE & UNDERSTANDING!

January 8, 2018


I remember my first day of hemodialysis at the local clinic. As I gathered my belongings that I would need, I realized it felt as if I was packing the essentials as I turned myself in to the authorities. I was nervous, scared, and frustrated, but I knew it was something I had to do.

A dialysis patient care package includes the likes of a blanket, phone, headphones, and perhaps a small snack. I had my sweatpants on, my sandals, and I did not waste time in trying to make sure I looked like I would if I were headed to a party or out with my friends.

I gathered my belongings and I headed to the clinic which was quietly located along the river. It was ironically a very dreary, rainy, and miserable day. It is almost as if I could control the weather with my attitude and emotional state.

As I arrived at the clinic, I had to wait to be buzzed to the back from a secure lobby area. Signs of warning where all over the door that you shall not be admitted past this threshold if you were not sentenced to do so. In the lobby waited family members of loved ones whom they were waiting to be released from behind the secure door. There was merely a Coke machine, a bathroom, a television, and the coldness of an all tile floor with generic seats that made this holding room what it was.

After waiting for fifteen minutes for my name to be called to the back, I had the opportunity to see the despair and desire for release in the eyes of the family members. The clicking sound occurs and the nurse steps from behind the door and calls my name. I gather my little bag and I head to the back where my sentencing awaits. The clip clap of my sandals on the tile rang high in my ears as I crossed into the area of machines and others just like me.

As part of my intake, I had to empty my pockets, put my bag down, and stand on a large steel scale in the floor. It reminded me of the scale they use in the television show, The Biggest Loser, which was ironic in ways that could not be seen on the outside.

I was told to walk over to the sink and wash my arm in the area where my sentence would be carried out, because an infection was not an option. I was walked to my chair and told to place my belongings to the side and to have a seat. It was so quiet in the area that it was deafening with faith, hope, and happiness swirling out the window that was cracked open.

As the nurses began to prep me, I was shackled by the blood pressure cuff and told to stand for a proper reading. I will never forget seeing them for the first time. They laid there by my side on the chair, in their packaging, accompanied by their tubes and alcohol swabs. It was the needles. I had not asked for this sentence nor did I understand why I was there. I wanted to run out, bust through the door, and rejoice in my freedom I once had.

I remember as they stuck the needles in I had to bite my lip and clinch my fist because of the sting. I looked around me and all I could see was chair after chair that held their visitor hostage. They had blankets pulled up to their chins, they were asleep or at least resting their eyes. All you could hear was the sound of the machines as they circulated the blood to and from my body.

I was not allowed to move due to the needles, I had to ask permission to use the bathroom, and I was only allowed to chew on ice or some crackers. I realized that I was sentenced to a chair that I had not asked to be. I had not committed a crime, I had not made the decision to be here through bad choices, and the only choice I had in the matter was whether I wanted the chair or to suffer and possibly die. This was my only option if I wanted to say good morning to my wife tomorrow, if I wanted to see the beauty of God’s creation through the eyes of somebody blinded by chronic illness and depression, or to continue my journey of wanting to be a father.

I had been handed down my sentence, and my only chance at bail would be the kindness of another human being. For some, bail never comes, for others it comes when least expected, but until that day comes, dialysis patients will continue making their trek to their sentencing three times a week with the hope that today could be the day they make bail.

This day came for me after a year and three month of being incarcerated to the chair. My bail had finally been posted and when I came outside, blinded by the sunlight that had only been imaginary to me during the day, my vision focused and there stood my hero. It was the superhero who had paid my bail, it was my angel, my life saver, and my guardian angel…..it was my wife.​​. 

Steve Winfree Blog