Still going strong after 1,000th treatment

Peggy Revell

Florence Watts hit a couple of milestones last week.
Not only did the Stratton resident turn 88 on Sept. 10, she’s also undergone dialysis a total of 1,000 times as of Sept. 6.
And with that latter milestone reached, Watts wanted to get the message out that dialysis is not “scary” as some people might think it is.
“Some people think if I started, it’s going to kill me. Instead it’s saving my life,” she remarked, recalling the reaction of even some of her family when she first had to start dialysis.
“Well, I proved that wrong, I guess,” she said.
“It doesn’t disturb [me]. I take it for granted because I know you have to go.”
Watts started peritoneal dialysis at home back in 2000 after her kidneys stopped working, and now has undergone hemodialysis for the past six-and-a-half years at the dialysis unit here at La Verendrye Hospital.
She currently makes the trip from her home in Stratton, where she lives with her daughter and son-in-law, Dianne and Glenn Stafford, to Fort Frances to undergo treatment every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11 a.m-3 p.m.
She has a “wonderful driver” in Larry Allen, who picks her up, drives her in, and then brings her home afterwards.
During the treatment, Watts is hooked up to the dialysis machine through a catheter, which is a central line in her artery in her neck.
The catheter was surgically inserted in Thunder Bay.
“I sit in my chair surrounded by other patients in other chairs,” she said about the treatment, which she stressed isn’t painful.
“I can visit with others beside me or watch television—each patient has their own television.
“I like to watch cooking shows, news, weather, ‘Dr. Oz,’” she added.
With her 1,000th trip to the dialysis unit now under her belt, Watts said she plans to just keep going in life.
“I have a normal life other than having to do dialysis,” she remarked, citing hobbies like reading, bird-watching, enjoying nature, visiting friends and family, and being a part of the lives of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
As well, having a dialysis unit located in Fort Frances has allowed her to remain in the district where she grew up.
Watts was born to Edna and Forrest Lundy and raised in Emo. She married John Watts in 1946.
“It was wonderful to think that [the unit] was here and I wouldn’t have to move,” she noted. “Otherwise, I would have had to move to [Thunder Bay].
“I’m very fortunate to be able to live with my daughter and Glenn.”
The dialysis unit at La Verendrye Hospital first opened its doors in the fall of 2001—thanks largely to the efforts and generous donations from people across the district, including the late Metta Visser.
The late Tom Bruyere also was instrumental in raising more than $100,000 over the past decade for the dialysis unit through his annual “Walk for Dialysis.”
While the walk was held in his memory last year after his passing, it will not be happening this year.