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Loi's Story

How I found a way to keep camping while on dialysis
Hi, my name is Loi. I am 45 years old and live with polycystic kidney disease.  A couple of years ago, my kidney function started to drop very quickly. It fell from about 40 per cent to 10 per cent. Before that, I had been trending down slowly. I was in shock and couldn’t believe this was happening to me; I didn’t think that in my forties I would be starting dialysis. 

I began training for peritoneal dialysis (PD) in November 2019. After the initial shock subsided, I started thinking of ways that I could continue to enjoy the outdoors while on dialysis. I am hard-wired to go camping. I have been doing it for 25 years, and love every aspect of it. I love prepping for it. I love looking at gear, I love watching other people camp on YouTube. So, there was no doubt in my mind I was going to continue camping. It was just a matter of, how could I make this happen? How could I do this safely? 

During dialysis training, they show you how to use the manual PD bags for exchanges. I suspected that was the key to completing treatments on a camping trip. Last spring, I started taking my canoe on short day trips to build up my energy levels and strength. Then last July, a friend suggested we go camping up north. We drove to Restoule Provincial Park and moved our gear to our boats. From there, we travelled by canoe and found a site in the backcountry to set up camp.

I brought along three days worth of PD bags, and a sturdy mesh tent. I knew the tent would not collapse when I hung my PD bags for the exchanges. I fashioned a tarp over the tent, to be protected from the rain and continue to have airflow. I was comfortable doing all my treatments in the tent and the trip was a success! I plan to continue camping in this way next summer.

My advice to others is, never give up on the things that you love. I really believe that for anybody who is about to go on dialysis or is on dialysis you can still live a great life.