(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
The dialysis machine, called NxStage System One, sits in Boardman's living room next to her recliner and has become a part of her daily life.
"I call it my miracle," Boardman of Sikeston said.
Boardman has End-Stage Renal Disease, which is the slow, progressive and permanent inability of a kidney to remove excess bodily fluid, minerals and wastes. The condition affects nearly 400,000 Americans, and chronic therapy or transplant is required to maintain life.
But before Boardman received her "miracle" almost two years ago, she survived a failed kidney/pancreas transplant and colon cancer. In 2001, she began dialysis treatments for four-hour sessions, three days a week at a nearby unit.
The treatments left Boardman feeling drained and ill.
"For one thing in between treatments, the toxins build up in your body. It destroys your energy level and appetite," she said.
It seemed like she would just begin to feel better and then it was time to go back to the unit to start the routine all over again, Boardman said.
Boardman said she began losing interest in her life because it took too much of her strength to do the things she wanted. She threw away her golfing shoes and vowed never to play the sport again.
"My attitude started to change about trying to fight the disease. I had been walking faithfully several times a week. ... But I began to feel that it was pointless even to do that. I was starting to give up. I didn't like that at all. I've never been a quitter," Boardman wrote in an
Finally in 2002, Boardman learned about a new invention that allowed patients to give themselves home-based dialysis treatments. She attended a meeting at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where she learned about NxStage.
Three years later Boardman was the first patient at Washington University of Medicine in St. Louis to use the machine in 2005 -- the year the machine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Before using the NxStage, Boardman and her husband, Marc, underwent a three-week training session to learn how to use the machine and insert needles into the veins of arms.
For almost two years, for two hours a day, six days a week, Boardman has hooked herself up to the 70-pound machine and receives dialysis treatment.
The machine is color-coded for easy use. It even hooks up to the house plumbing system.
Unlike dialysis treatments received at a hospital, Boardman's free to look out her front window, watch TV, visit with company or take a nap.
"I didn't want to be in my bedroom like I was hiding it," Boardman said about having her machine in the living room. "I wanted people to feel like they were free to visit, and it's part of my life and it's here."
And the home treatment doesn't leave her feeling sick and tired, Boardman said. Almost immediately she noticed improvements.
Boardman's blood pressure has reached normal levels, and she no longer has to take medication to control it. Also her levels of potassium, cholesterol, blood count, hemoglobin and others were better following her treatment with NxStage versus in-center dialysis.
Not long after she began using the machine at home, family and friends noticed a difference in Boardman.
"I had lost that yellow glow (before), and now I have more energy and started to gain some weight," Boardman said.
In addition to Boardman feeling better, the machine makes traveling easier, too, she said.
"Before I was always trying to find a dialysis unit that will take you when you're on vacation. Now the machine just packs up, and we can leave in a moment's time," Boardman said.
Boardman encouraged other people on in-center dialysis to check into using the machine from home.
"A lot of people are scared of sticking themselves," Boardman said about why others may not be using the machine. "And you have to do it six days a week. You cannot be one of those who will fudge on it, and you have to somebody living with you."
Improvements continue to be made with NxStage machine. Last month Boardman was even invited to speak at the International Dialysis Symposium in Denver.
Meanwhile, Boardman has purchased another pair of golf shoes and returned to the golf course -- with a new attitude on the game.
"I don't think I'm as competitive as I once was," Boardman said. "Even when I play bad, I know there are worse places I could be."
Some information for this article was obtained from an article written by Boardman in the February 2007 issue of Nephrology News and Issues magazine.