Rural Missouri - September 2013 - (Page 36)

N E I G H B O R S Battling adversity Dialysis hasn’t slowed world traveler Tim Atkins S 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 Buffalo 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 36 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,” Tim says. 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 native artists. 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 schedule. 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 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP 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 his life. “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 Listen to his podcasts at nativethunder@ http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - September 2013

Rural Missouri - September 2013
Merchant miniatures
Scorching the border
All aboard
Blasts from the past
Out of the Way Eats
Mowing down the competition
Hearth and Home
A place for Pershing
Around Missouri

Rural Missouri - September 2013