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Proctor continues fight for life despite kidney disease

Madalynn Wilson and Jennifer Stultz
Bill Proctor, 81, never misses a chance to great his wife, Darlene, also 81, with a kiss. The Pratt couple has learned to appreciate each day of life as they deal with health issues, including his kidney disease.

A positive outlook on life as well as being surrounded by a medical team dedicated to survival keeps Bill Proctor, 81, alive these days, despite an ongoing eight-year battle with kidney disease. His love of his wife, Darlene, and an attitude of thanks make each day worth living, the Pratt man said.
“I have regular visits and exams by seven physicians to hold me together,” Proctor said. "My Parkwood team also plays a big part in my fight to stay alive. It's not easy but I have the best people around me."
Bill and his wife Darlene Proctor moved to Parkwood Village in Pratt two years ago, where they depend on staff to help with their daily care, including a ride for Bill to 4:30 a.m. kidney dialysis sessions at Pratt Family Clinic.
"I've been going three times a week, every morning, but one day I forgot to reset my clock for daylight savings time," Proctor said. "My people here got me up and to my appointment in time. It's what keeps me alive. I appreciate so much those who care enough to help me stay alive."
Proctor's battle with kidney disease started eight years ago when he noticed he was having trouble breathing. Originally, his doctor believed he had congestive heart failure, which has similar symptoms to those of kidney failure. Luckily, a physician's assistant was able to spot it before the kidney failure lead to his waste filling up his lungs and suffocating him, which is what happens when the condition is left untreated.
"When my kidneys failed I was already too old to be added to the long, long list of people waiting for a kidney transplant," Proctor said. "Even if I had been young enough, I couldn’t afford to get one as Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of the anti-rejection drug that costs around 25,000 dollars a year."
Proctor's only options were peritoneal dialysis or hemodialysis. He chose hemodialysis which requires him to get hooked to a machine for five hours, three days a week, which clears his blood of his waste now that he doesn’t have kidneys to do that for him.
He has a special "sticker," an integral part of his fight for life team, named Josh Powell, whom he particularly enjoys visiting with at each early morning session at the Pratt Family Clinic.
"Josh is good at what he does," Proctor said. "He is a fine, young man. He inspires me and I am so glad to have him as part of my team. The five hours on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I spend to stay alive is such a blessing that I look forward to it. It might be hard to get going so early every morning, but I feel good as I get back in time for lunch with my darling Darlene."
Michael Grant is the doctor who supervises these visits. Michele Gilpin and Nurse Leslie are also key to his survival, according to Proctor.
“When I first started out with dialysis in 2012, there were people ready to bury me. And if I hadn’t had this attitude that I want to live, I wouldn't have celebrated Christmas with my family,” Proctor said. “We live on borrowed time, my wife and I, she has health problems too. But at the worst time, when I was diagnosed, for 44 days, three hospitals, and two nursing homes, she [Darlene] came to see me every day. She said to me, 'We’re gonna make it.'"
Next to the Proctors' bed in their Parkwood apartment is a framed paper with the title “Bill Proctor’s GOALS of Mindfulness and Meditation.” It lists nine ways for him to deal with his kidney failure. The first one being: I shall be good to myself and others with compassion and love.
Surrounded by their medical and care team, each other and family and friends, the Proctors continue to enjoy life. He works as an Ombudsman for the state of Kansas and the Southwest Kansas Area Agency on Aging, and writes several stories a week for various print publications, including The Pratt Tribune. They are both active members of the Pratt Lions Club.