Navigating the Balance: A Nurse’s Dialysis Story


Can you imagine undergoing dialysis treatment three times a week while continuing a full-time career as a nurse? For Marina Craig, patient care facilitator with the Labour and Delivery Services of Eastern Health’s Children and Women’s Health Program. Each week, Marina balances 12 hour shifts with the 12 hours she spends in the Waterford Hospital Dialysis Unit, but her love for the job makes it a little easier.

Patient Care Facilitator Marina Craig (6th from left), along with her colleagues

Patient Care Facilitator Marina Craig (6th from left), along with her colleagues

“I have been a nurse for 40 years, and spent 38 of those years working in Labour and Delivery,” says Marina. “I could have retired two years ago but I just love the work! It’s like the old saying goes…it’s not work if you love what you do!”

Marina was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease when she was 12 years old, but lived a relatively normal life until she was about 55 years old.

“There are two types of polycystic kidney disease, some patients will not need dialysis and some will… unfortunately I fell into the latter category,” explained Marina. “After I was diagnosed at the age of 12, I just required blood work once a year…that was until about five years ago when my results started to go off. After that, I was monitored by a very calming nephrologist –a physician who specializes in kidney functions – every three months, and after two years of being watched closely, it was time. I have been receiving dialysis treatments ever since…about three years now.”

Dialysis machine

Dialysis machine

For Marina, the biggest adjustment to dialysis treatment was having a lot less spare time.

“I work 12 hour shifts and receive treatment at the Waterford Dialysis Unit from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” said Marina. “I usually have very little energy to do much after treatment; three days of my week are shot whether I’m working or not.”

Having supportive coworkers has greatly helped Marina balance her treatments and work.

“The treatment hasn’t impacted my work a lot because I have a very supportive manager and coworkers,” explained Marina.

Marina’s coworkers have been like family to her, but these past three years, her family has extended to include the staff in the dialysis unit!

“The nurses in the dialysis unit are fabulous! I have gotten to know them so well because I am there so often. They really are like family. It’s evident that the employees working in the unit are there because they are so well suited for that area of care…they have definitely found their niche.”

Supporting the Health Care Foundation Dialysis Dash

On August 8, 2015, Marina will support the Health Care Foundation’s First Annual Dialysis Dash, a family pledge-based event at Bowring Park that will raise funds for the dialysis units in St. John’s! Why? Because the cause hits close to home for her.

Proceeds from the dash will be used to replace all of the dialysis chairs at the Health Sciences Centre, St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital and the Waterford Hospital.

Marina, like so many other patients, will spend approximately 550 hours this year sitting in a dialysis treatment chair.

“The current chairs are definitely in need of replacement,” explains Marina.

These new chairs, which will cost approximately $5,500 each, are next generation in technology and comfort.

Standout features of the new chairs include:

  • Remote technology, which makes independent mobility in the chair much easier for the patient, all while providing a much greater level of comfort.
  • The ergonomic chair has an attached foot rest which is beneficial if a patient is experiencing cramping in their legs and also reduces the risk of blood clots and improves blood flow.
  • The sleek features of the chair provide a more restful posture for supporting the patients during dialysis and also recline so many patients can sleep during their long treatment.
  • Nursing staff will be able to maneuver the chairs into various positions, similar to an electric bed, preventing occupational injuries.

“My biggest issue while on dialysis is low blood pressure and when my pressure drops, I need to lie down, “said Marina. “Dialysis patients will still have to undergo treatment, but with these new chairs, we will have more comfort and mobility, and that will certainly help.”

The Dialysis Dash gives participants three options based on their preference, a 10k or 5k run/ walk or a 1k family fun run through Bowring Park. Participants will receive awards and prizes for supporting this great cause and we will also have refreshments, food and activities for the whole family, including bouncy castles, snow cones and a balloon maker!

“I am going to do the 1K walk with my friend Kathy,” said Marina. “We hope that our friends and family will join us in the walk, or if they cannot come, support this cause!”

Detailed information about the Dialysis Dash is available at hcfdialysisdash.ca. ■

This story was written by Jackie O’Brien, manager of communications and stewardship at the Health Care Foundation.

About the Health Care Foundation

Health Care Foundation Logo

The Health Care Foundation is committed to raising and stewarding funds for the advancement and enhancement of patient comfort and care, medical equipment, research and education at five Eastern Health adult hospitals serving the St. John’s region: St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital, Health Sciences Centre, Dr. Leonard A. Miller Centre, Waterford Hospital and the Dr. Walter Templeman Health Centre.  Through its fundraising initiatives, the Health Care Foundation assists these hospitals in providing health care for the St. John’s region and specialized tertiary health services for the entire province.

5 responses to “Navigating the Balance: A Nurse’s Dialysis Story

  1. Work with Marina & her great colleagues in the Caseroom. She is a dedicated & wonderful nurse…proud to know you Marina!

  2. She’s a very strong and dedicated nurse and I so enjoyed working there. And I too is very proud to know her.

  3. It takes a lot of willpower and dedication to be a nurse but to be a patient as well, this is a whole different story. Marina is a powerful woman who most likely worked with thousands and thousands of moms and her desire to keep on going is amazing!

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