Two years ago, Lakeland resident Mike Carey was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Six months after that, he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Mike knew he needed to make some lifestyle changes that would help him manage his conditions in order to live a healthy life.
CKD is permanent kidney damage or decreased level of kidney function for three months or more. If left untreated, CKD can lead to total kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant for survival. More than 900,000 Michigan adults over the age of 20 have CKD.
Mike received information in the mail about the Personal Action Toward Health (PATH) program from the U-M Transplant Center, and immediately knew he would benefit from the program. He’s had positive experiences with other group-orientated programs and felt that PATH would be a great fit for him.
PATH is a 6-week health workshop offered by the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM), which helps individuals manage long-term health conditions. PATH provides information and skills to adults with all types of chronic health conditions such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, bronchitis, asthma, depression, and more. The workshops are conducted by trained leaders who hold informal, small group discussions and provide easy-to-understand course materials. Leaders discuss ways to reduce pain and stress, cope with fatigue, use medications wisely, and benefit from physical activity.
When Mike started his first CKD PATH workshop in February 2014, he was on peritoneal dialysis. “I was pretty sick when I started the program,” he explained, “I was struggling managing everything I had going on, but being in a group with 12 others who also had CKD was very helpful.”
Participants are encouraged to create personal action plans and set practical, achievable goals by applying the self-help devices they learn. Mike explained that being in a group setting makes it easier to achieve those personal goals. “Being in a group with others who have a similar disease is reassurance that you’re not alone in this battle. It’s good for one another.”
Good nutrition is also a big part of the PATH workshop. Mike said it can be difficult at times for him to balance a renal and diabetic diet because they both follow different guidelines. “My approach to eating is simply common sense,” said Mike. “Anything I put in my mouth will affect me in someway, so I have to be cautious.”
Mike explained that he follows the “200 calorie a day diet,” recommended in PATH as a way to lose 20 pounds in a year. He tries to burn 100 calories a day from exercising, and the other 100 calories comes from swapping certain foods for healthier options. For example, he will always opt for fruit or vegetables instead of sweets. He has also eliminated alcohol from his diet.
Since participating in the PATH program, Mike has regained kidney function and no longer needs dialysis. He credits the program for helping him get to this point. Because Mike had such a positive experience with PATH, he wanted to take his involvement to the next level – he became a PATH leader in July 2014. “I wanted to pay it forward,” Mike said.
Mike has led one PATH group and said it has been a rewarding experience thus far. “I believe this program can make a life changing difference, and recommend it to anyone who is suffering from a chronic disease.” Studies have proven that PATH helps participants reduce symptoms, communicate better with their physician, and have a better sense of control over their health.
For more information on the PATH program, contact the NKFM at 800-482-1455 or visit www.nkfm.org/PATH.