Rural Missouri - September 2013 - (Page 36)
N E I G H B O R S
Dialysis hasn’t slowed world traveler Tim Atkins
by Alyssa Goodman
ince he was 14, Tim Atkins
always wore long sleeves
to school. It didn’t matter
how hot it got.
Tim didn’t go to school on Tuesdays either. He had no choice in
the matter if he wanted to live.
When a former girlfriend asked
about the scars on his arms, he
responded, “Oh, a dog bit me.”
He hid the truth about his life. He
didn’t want his classmates to know
his secret. After all, he wasn’t any
different than any of them. He had
similar aspirations for his life.
Now, roughly 40 years later, his
attitude has completely changed.
“I’ve worked hard for the scars on
my arms,” Tim says.
Since 1973, Tim has been receiving dialysis. He is arguably one of
the longest-living dialysis patients
in Missouri, perhaps in the country.
Dialysis does the job a person’s
kidneys usually do, taking blood
from one’s body, cleaning it by
removing excess waste and water
and then returning it.
“I do my dialysis treatments to
live. I don’t live for dialysis treatments,” says Tim, a Laclede Electric
Cooperative member who lives
near Buffalo. This is the motto
by which he lives his life, serving
as motivation as he follows his
dreams around the world.
It can be daunting for those
who learn that their options in
life are dialysis forever or a kidney transplant. Tim tries to share
his story to remind those going
through any medical issues that
their life has just
been rerouted, not
ended. It doesn’t
have to stop you from
reaching your goals and
living a fulﬁlling life.
For Tim, that meant
pursuing a career in
radio. After getting a
scholarship to attend
the Broadcast Center in St. Louis,
he got hired right out of college
to work in his hometown of Rolla.
From there, he worked his way up
to Jefferson City and then to an
even bigger radio station in Denver.
Heading to work for a shift after
Tim Atkins, former radio show host, laughs as he shows off some of his radio equipment he uses to make podcasts.
his dialysis treatment proved challenging. Regardless of how he felt when he
walked into the recording studio, he
couldn’t let it be known that he was
suffering. “When you turn that mic
on, it’s like stepping out on the stage,”
Now, he has all the equipment he
needs at home where he produces
podcasts on American Indian music
roughly once a month called “Native
Thunder” while working on videos
for future talks about his life for
churches or organizations.
The videos are made up of
clips from his time in Arizona on an American Indian
reservation. He was asked
to come to the Pima Maricopa Apache reservation to
contribute to “Sky Eagle,” a
radio and television show that features
His great-grandfather was Cherokee. Tim, now known to those on the
reservation as Timm Bear, spent ﬁve
months there doing dialysis from the
back of a trailer.
Roughly 10 to 12 years ago, Tim
made the mentally difﬁcult switch for
him to start home dialysis. Technology
has come a long way since the twice-aweek, six-and-a-half-hour treatments,
but the thought of walking into his
home and the machine always being
there was a lot for him to take in.
The machine sits next to his bed,
and the treatment takes roughly three
and a half hours, which he does every
other day. “No matter what is going
on, how busy you are, expecting company, you’ve got to put it off and do
the dialysis,” he says.
However, the home dialysis has
proved to be the best decision for
him to continue living an active life.
It affords him the luxury of doing
his treatment with his wife, Lorie, on
his own time instead of on a doctor’s
Having a kidney transplant seems
like a logical alternative to a lifetime of
dialysis treatment. Tim has had two.
The ﬁrst ended with a three-month
hospital stay, and the second
allowed him to be dialysis free for
six years before it failed. He’s not
currently on the transplant list.
While on dialysis, he’s traveled to
Ireland, Hawaii, Canada, Mexico,
Puerto Rico and lived in the Virgin
Islands for four years.
Tim has never let his treatment
deﬁne or limit his life as long as
there’s a dialysis machine nearby. As
a 14-year-old, a lifetime of dialysis
was hard to take in. Now at almost
55 years old, he only thinks about
what else he wants to accomplish in
“I’m still thinking about going
back to the reservation and doing
some things to help out there,” Tim
says. “I think the secret is being
active and having faith.”
To contact Tim for motivational
talks, please call 417-259-3472 or
e-mail email@example.com. Listen
to his podcasts at nativethunder@
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - September 2013
Rural Missouri - September 2013
Scorching the border
Blasts from the past
Out of the Way Eats
Mowing down the competition
Hearth and Home
A place for Pershing
Rural Missouri - September 2013