Thursday, October 11, 2012

On Kidney Dialysis and still CrossFitting...a must read!

Please join me in welcoming
 Jan Shields to my Blog to share her story.
One Baby Boomer Fighting For Her Health and Fitness

My CrossFit Journey. . .it's just beginning!
By Jan Shields

I had always  been  very active and healthy throughout my life. I owned horses, which I trained, rode, cleaned their stalls, threw their hay bales, hauled their water in the winters; I also loved to hike, camp, and fish. I have enjoyed a wonderful life with my family. However, throughout my adult life I had been developing kidney dysfunction. I would end up in the hospital with an infection, and each time would be told I was losing Kidney function. Then last year, October 2011, I again went into emergency at our local hospital. The doctors told me my kidneys were operating at a mere 10%
I was sent to a kidney specialist in Anchorage, and by December I was on dialysis. After being on dialysis, the docs were able to finally get a picture of my kidneys. The test showed I had cancerous tumors on both kidneys. They were 95% sure, and the cure was to remove both kidneys. I was 62 years young, and went into my first major surgery March 2012. The doctor performed a double nephrectomy, taking out both kidneys. Then to my delight, when the pathology report came back, the tumors were benign. That saved me months, if not years of chemotherapy, and put me on a fast track to get on a kidney donor list.
I am now totally dependent upon dialysis, which I do every night at home. I have jumped through all the hoops to get my name on a transplant list. Right now it appears my younger sister may be a donor match, and she is now going through similar testing I have had to do to make sure she is healthy enough to give me a kidney. My call could some soon for a transplant operation.
In the meantime, the surgery in March left me weaker than I’ve ever been in my life. The dialysis is not “a piece of cake”. It can be very painful at times, and frustrating at the least. But my children had been singing the praises of a new form of exercise that had recently come to town. They showed me some U-Tube videos of this new rage, called CrossFit – Even one with Bob Harper, of the Biggest Loser fame. It looked way too hard for me, since I could barely walk short distances, climb stairs, and hardly lift five pounds. But I was assured the basis of the workouts was to strengthen your core, and every workout can be modified to fit your ability. So, with my doctor’s approval, I joined CrossFit at the first of September 2012.
I still can’t do all that the other athletes do, but I’m never made to feel inferior at a workout. Trainers and other athletes all give me great encouragement. With CrossFit, every day is a different WOD ( workout of the day), so I’m never bored. The trainers are always right there, taking the time to work on technique, and always building toward a stronger body. I have been amazed at the difference I’m beginning to feel after just my first month at the Box. For one thing, I noticed a difference right away in my dialysis. I think the exercise opened up some areas in my body where fluids were hiding. My dialysis drains are a little larger, which means I am taking out more toxin from my body. I have to feel better! I have more energy. I still get extremely exhausted during the workout, and my lungs burn especially after lifting weights, but my recovery time is getting shorter, I am preparing myself to be in the best shape I can be in for my transplant surgery. I want to have a much quicker recovery from this major – major surgery. I believe CrossFit is just what I need.

Blogger's Note: Jan works out at: Crossfit Norsemen in Soldotna Ak. View their website at or View CrossFit at:

Check your local listing to view the 2012 CrossFit Games.
Sunday 10:14
Monday 10:15
Wednesday 10:17
Sunday 10:21
Sunday 10:16


  1. Wow Jan, you are an amazing inspiration! And to answer your question about the shelf life on my salt scrub recipe, I have kept it in the fridge for months! Really I would have said 30 days or so, but I don't take the time I need for me so months go by. It will start to smell rancid when it's time to toss it.

  2. Hi there,
    I have a friend who is on dialysis too and wants to get back into shape. What kind of protein are you taking or drinking before and after the workouts and before and after dialysis?
    You are an inspiration!
    Thank you,