Patient marks her 25th year of straight dialysis treatment
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 3, 2009 1:46 PM
Dr. Robert Dunmire, left, medical director of DaVita Dialysis, and Alice Hill, facility manager, talk with Emogene Williams after her dialysis treatment.
Emogene Williams has not missed a single dialysis treatment in 25 years. And the day she was to be celebrated for that accomplishment, she was not about to miss.
The actual anniversary date was the week before, but DaVita Dialysis arranged a time when members of her family could accompany her. Staff decorated her special chair, ordered flowers, balloons and a cake and were all set Tuesday for the lady who shows up "like clockwork" three days a week.
"She usually comes in at 6 a.m. and stays for about three and a half hours," said Diana Rogers, office manager.
That morning, however, the 74-year-old fell as she was being transported from Britthaven and wound up in the hospital emergency room. She had a broken collarbone.
Several hours later, after completing her treatment at DaVita, Mrs. Williams was wheeled into the lobby wearing a crown and corsage fashioned in her favorite color, yellow.
She was struck by the outpouring in her honor. Several friends and staff members paused to speak to her, and a number of them had written messages on a large framed sign.
"This is my day, my whole day," Mrs. Williams said. "I claim it."
Son Melvin Christian of Goldsboro was there with his wife and other family members, taking pictures and sharing in the celebration. Altogether, Mrs. Williams has four children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, he said.
It's probably been a hardship on all of them, watching their matriarch face treatments three days a week, every week, for the past 25 years. But none complained, not even Mrs. Williams.
"It's like getting up every morning, going to a job," she said.
She has had other jobs -- Wilber's Barbecue and Goldsboro Milling among them -- but retired when she got sick in the mid-80's, she said.
She has been on transplant lists, Ms. Rogers said, but never received a transplant.
"It's very unusual for somebody to make it 25 years (on dialysis)," noted Alice Hill, facility administrator. "The most we have is about 12 years."
Mrs. Hill has been at DaVita for two years but had worked with one of Mrs. Williams' doctors five years before that. They also had a connection through Mrs. Hill's father, David Crisp, who had worked with Mrs. Williams in the '70s at Wilber's.
"She is one of the strongest ladies I know. She once spent about three months in the hospital, can't get around except in a wheelchair, but is just as happy, bright and smiling," Mrs. Hill said.
Dr. Robert Dunmire, medical director at DaVita, has worked with Mrs. Williams for about 19 years.
"She's a tough lady. There's no doubt about that," he said. "She's a great lady. I think her spirit and her drive is what's kept her going. She's far exceeded the normal life expectancy of most dialysis patients. Plus she's got good family and good nursing care."
Mrs. Williams has been a model patient, Ms. Rogers aid.
"She more or less followed her diet, has done what the doctors told her and watched her fluid intake, that's the key," she said. "And to come to every treatment."
"I have never missed a dialysis treatment," Mrs. Williams said. "Never missed a day. I don't worry about dialysis. It's just a job."
Still, the wear and tear of the routine could get anybody down. What's her secret?
"I guess not worrying about my problems, just going ahead, doing what I have got to do," she said.
And as others may opt to while away the hours doing crossword puzzles, watching DVDs or knitting, Mrs. Williams has chosen to cultivate friendships -- with other patients, the nurses and staff.
"It becomes like family," Dr. Dunmire said. "We get to know them real well."
"They're my children away from home. I claim them all," Mrs. Williams said.
Of course, an occasional nap doesn't hurt.
"By the time I wake up, it's almost time to go home," she said with a smile.