Some baby boomers who saved faithfully for a relaxing retirement are getting a rude shock. Instead of traveling across the country to see the sights, they're making expensive short trips to see doctors.
"I had to go through a lot of tests at Vanderbilt," Steve Reynolds of Manitou said.
The time at a medical center in Nashville led to Reynolds being placed on a waiting list for a kidney transplant three weeks ago.
Reynolds, 63, didn't realize for years that he's diabetic. He says it was not in his family history. But a
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doctor discovered it in October
2018, and Reynolds has been on dialysis almost every nightsince then.
"It ruined my kidneys," Reynolds said. "They started getting bad in June 2017. I wound up in the hospital with fluids. My legs were swelled up. You couldn't see my knees. My face was swelled up."
Now the former coal mine employee and business owner is searching with his family for a kidney donor. It would be like an express lane to treatment.
"They told me if I couldn't find a living donor, it could be five to eight years," Reynolds said.
The doctors didn't tell him if he had that many years to live.
But if a donor can be found, the wait could be reduced from years to months. Reynolds' wife Glenda said three people in Hopkins County have volunteered for kidney testing so far.
Yet the stress doesn't end there. Glenda was diagnosed with rectal cancer in April. She's been through surgery and 10 chemotherapy treatments, with added radiation treatment scheduled for January.
"You have good insurance," she said. "But then your deductibles and co-pays are through the roof."
"You work all your life and save a little bit of money," her husband said. "Then she's been in the hospital three or four times this year, and I've been in the hospital three or four times this year. It's rough."
The Reynolds marked 45 years of marriage last week. Now they support each other through the worst of health trials. For Steve, that means nine-hour dialysis sessions at home six nights a week. He tries to find humor in being attached to a long catheter.
"It's like a dog being on a leash," he said. "I can go 20 feet, then I just stop and bark."
"It limits what you can do," Glenda added. "You have to plan everything around the dialysis." Among other things, that means regular vacations to the Smoky Mountains have been on hold for two years.
People who would consider donating a kidney can call 270-836-8499. Potential donors also can apply online at VanderbiltTransplant.com, specifying the kidney is for Denver Stephen Reynolds.