Rais­ing dial­y­sis aware­ness

Re­gatta crew rais­ing aware­ness for dial­y­sis pa­tients

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NICHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

Kay’s Kid­ney Kats is a group of first­time row­ers com­pet­ing in the Har­bour Grace Re­gatta. What makes them unique is they all have a con­nec­tion to the dial­y­sis unit at Car­bon­ear Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal, in­clud­ing a 26-year dial­y­sis pa­tient. Anne Pen­ney had al­ways wanted to row, and de­cided to do so this year.

Anne Pen­ney had al­ways wanted to row in the Har­bour Grace Re­gatta.

How­ever, her weekly dial­y­sis treat­ments had pre­vented her from do­ing so.

“It was al­ways in­ter­est­ing to me, but I’ve never rowed be­fore,” Pen­ney told the Com­pass.

The 51-year-old Salmon Cove na­tive has been on dial­y­sis for the past 26 years, and is cur­rently tak­ing it four times a week.

How­ever, at the end of last sum­mer Pen­ney de­cided she wanted to give rowing a go.

Talk­ing amongst the nurses she deals with ev­ery week in the dial­y­sis unit at Car­bon­ear Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal, the group of six nurses and Pen­ney de­cided to form a crew.

Now that the group had de­cided to be­come a rowing crew, the next step was to find an ex­pe­ri­enced coxswain to show them the ropes.

That’s where So­nia Wil­liams comes in.

She is a para­medic with Moore’s Am­bu­lance Ser­vice and an ex­pe­ri­enced coxswain.

Wil­liams fre­quently vis­its the dial­y­sis unit at the hos­pi­tal and when she heard of the idea of form­ing a crew she was all for it. “It’s great,” she said. With a coxswain in tow, the group set about com­ing up with a name for their group.

They came up with Kay’s Kid­ney Kats, in­cor­po­rat­ing one of their spon­sors, Kay’s Restau­rant, and that all mem­bers of the crew have a con­nec­tion to the dial­y­sis unit. Some are nurses, while oth­ers have fam­ily mem­bers who have been touched by the treat­ment.

Along with Pen­ney, the rest of the crew in­cludes Jill Gosse, Bev­er­ley Baird, Dana Cambden, Jackie Sharpe, Deanne Squire, Donna An­drews and El­iz­a­beth Baker.

“Anne brought this up last year, and we said, ‘just tell us the time and the place and we’ll be there,’” said Gosse.

The team’s other spon­sor is Har­bour Grace Cold Stor­age Inc. First time row­ers Ev­ery mem­ber of the crew is a first-time rower.

That meant there was a steep learn­ing curve ahead of the re­gatta, which runs July 27 at Lady Lake in Har­bour Grace.

De­spite that, each rower at­tacked the process with vigor.

“It was dif­fi­cult at the be­gin­ning,” said Pen­ney. “We had to get used to it.”

But, with each prac­tice, the crew start­ing to come to­gether and ev­ery­one was start­ing to pick up new as­pects of rowing.

Whether it was learn­ing the dif­fer­ent parts of the boat or how to sit in it cor­rectly, the Kid­ney Kats are start­ing to re­sem­ble a rowing team.

“I ’m im­pressed with how far they’ve come,” said Wil­liams. “We’re proud,” added Pen­ney. Gosse said one thing she re­ally en­joyed about the new ex­pe­ri­ence was the “to­geth­er­ness” that came with shar­ing a rowing shell with six other peo­ple.

“It was nice,” she said. “We’re hav­ing fun.”

Keep mov­ing

The main rea­son for form­ing the crew was to have a bit of fun and do some­thing nei­ther of them had ev­ery done be­fore.

How­ever, there is an un­der­ly­ing theme to the crew.

There is a stigma at­tached to dial­y­sis that you have to stop liv­ing once you have started.

But, Pen­ney and the Kid­ney Kats are hop­ing to help shed that no­tion.

“I don’t see it as a hand­i­cap,” said Pen­ney. “It’s not sup­posed to tie you down.”

With the re­gatta set to go this week­end, Gosse said ev­ery­one is ex­cited to get go­ing.

“We’re pumped, we re­ally are,” she said. “We’ve re­ally en­joyed it.”

“They’re start­ing to look like a rowing crew,” added Wil­liams.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Photo by Nicholas Mercer/the Com­pass

Kay’s Kid­ney Kats are a group of first year row­ers who all have a con­nec­tion with the dial­y­sis unit at Car­bon­ear Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal. Mem­bers of the team are (l-r) — spon­sor Kathy Tet­ford, Jill Gosse, Bev­er­ley Baird, Dana Comb­den, Jackie Sharpe, Donna An­drews, Anne Pen­ney and coxswain So­nia Wil­liams. Miss­ing from photo are Deanne Squires and El­iz­a­beth Baker.

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