Dialysis patients to run in Simply Fit event

The Simply Fit Family Run is all set to go for this Sunday afternoon, Aug. 15 at the Canadian Aviation Museum – an event that seeks to encourage individuals with kidney disease to be active and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Topics : University of Ottawa , Shad Ireland Foundation , Beacon Hill , Spain , Kapuskasing
The importance of that message couldn’t be more clear to Beacon Hill’s Marie-Eve Chainey, a race organizer.

“First off, that’s what kept me alive,” explains Chainey, whose nine-year struggle with kidney disease began at age 18 while she away in Spain. Chainey still doesn’t know what caused it, but her kidneys suddenly failed and she was carrying about 50 lbs. of water, while her blood pressure skyrocketed to 220/143.

“If I hadn’t been athletic, I wouldn’t have been able to breathe with that much water in me, and my heart wouldn’t have been able to take it either,” Chainey adds.

The Kapuskasing, Ont. native was a standout high jumper in her teenage years, but when she found herself in a hospital bed battling for her life, leaping over a bar was about the last thing on her mind.

“At first, I couldn’t even brush my teeth or wash my hair by myself. It was about surviving and fighting this disease,” Chainey notes. “But high jump was always something I loved doing. Being in the gym and working out is my comfort zone. I feel like that’s where I belong.”

Although doctors said her muscles would be too weak to ever return to high jumping, Chainey started on the comeback trail despite the additional challenges caused by dialysis treatments.

The University of Ottawa nursing student found it “very, very frustrating” when she first got back into physical activity because she had trouble jogging, let alone clearing her previous heights.

“I wanted to be out there on the track and run, but my body wouldn’t follow,” she says.

Chainey got a hand from the Shad Ireland Foundation – the organization behind the Simply Fit Family Run – with a grant that paid for coaching to help improve her cardio while managing the effects of kidney disease.

“I understand I have limits now and I listen to my body a lot more,” notes Chainey, who competed in the Canadian championships two weekends ago in Toronto. “I’ll get the signals before it gets too late. If I have a tiny bit of dizziness, I won’t ignore it.”

Chainey has a couple career high jump goals – she’d like to return to the nationals and clear 1.50 metres, and she’d like to qualify for the university nationals with her University of Ottawa team.

But simply being in shape offers a huge benefit to Chainey, who has nocturnal hemodialysis treatments six nights a week at home.

“By working out, I get rid of more toxins because you’re sweating,” Chainey explains. “And your body is just stronger to fight anything. That’s what keeps me going.”

Her story is one she’s trying her best to spread. Chainey visited all the dialysis rooms in Ottawa to encourage patients to take part in the Simply Fit event, and she recruited about a dozen to try the 1 km walk/run with the hope of moving up to the 5 km or 10 km races in future years.

“You’re stuck at the hospital three times a week for the dialysis treatments and you see people there, but it’s always in a bit of a negative way because you’re having a treatment,” Chainey adds. “We wanted to have them out there on a Sunday enjoying themselves and talking to people. For some of them, to be able to do a whole 1 km is a huge improvement. We’re going to celebrate that. It’ll be fun.”

Shad Ireland, the first dialysis patient to complete an Iron Man, will be on hand for the event. A renal-friendly lunch will be served after each event, which begins with the 1 km at 1:30 p.m., followed by the 5 km and 10 km distances.

Visit www.shadirelandfoundation.ca for more information.