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Fort Bend Herald - September 19, 2012

Bill Porter wakes up before sunrise four days a week to ride at least 30-40 miles on his bike.

He’s 73-years-old and, on days he’s not cycling, endures four hours of dialysis a session.

Porter was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD) in January 2011 and returned to his old hobby of cycling when his doctor told him to get more exercise.

“(Cycling) is a good exercise that requires you to breathe and work on your heart so you can build up your organs when you’re riding,” said Porter. “It’s fun.”

Porter initially saw a cardiologist for high blood pressure in Colorado, where he used to live.

“The cardiologist said she doesn’t think I have a heart problem,” he said. “She thinks I have a kidney problem, and she was right”

A series of tests with a nephrologist showed that Porter had less than 10 percent of function in his remaining kidney (the other had been removed for cancer in 2001).

The doctor then had Porter get a fistula, which joins an artery and a vein in one arm so that some of the arterial blood flows into the vein. Two needles, one to draw blood and another to return it after being filtered of toxins and wastes through a machine, are then inserted into the fistula for dialysis treatment.

Porter and his wife Marcia moved from Colorado to Richmond to begin his treatment at Methodist Hospital in Sugar Land.

His doctor suggested running as an exercise, but Porter said he couldn’t run at his age and dusted off his bikes that had been sitting in the garage instead.

As a teenager, Porter had a newspaper route with the former Los Angeles Examiner in his hometown of Gardena, Calif.

Cycling quickly became a hobby, faded during his college years and returned in his mid-30s when he and Marcia lived as newlyweds in Fort Worth.

Porter began cycling with the Fort Worth Bicycling Association. Though he had a hard time keeping up in the beginning, Porter stuck with the sport for the next several years.

An old boy scout jacket proudly displays sewn-on patches Porter has received from bike tours throughout the years. He said he’s most proud of the triple century, or 300-mile, tour patches.

Most of Porter’s patches are from Fort Worth, but he and Marcia also have cycled through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, passing by Grand Lake, Mesa Verde National Park and Cameron Pass.

On Tuesday, Sept. 18 Porter completed Tour DaVita, a 200-plus mile three-day cycling tour through Iowa. The tour is in its sixth year and raises funds and awareness for CKD.

Porter also convinced his care team’s dietician and facility administrator, who join him on early morning bike rides, to join him on the tour.

Porter said he’s not worried about getting exhausted because DaVita’s staff sets up vans for assistance along the route, but he hopes to live up to his care team’s expectations.

Marcia also supports and encourages him to ride his bike.

“It’s good for him to do this because it’s easy to get lazy when you go through these kind of treatments,” she said. “You can still have a good life, even on dialysis.”

Porter said he’s made only a few lifestyle changes since his diagnosis because he stays active.

He usually eats anything he wants in smaller portions, has cut down on foods high in phosphorus and takes phosphate binder pills.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, CKD patients’ kidneys don’t remove phosphorus as well as normal-working kidneys.

Extra phosphorus causes body changes that remove calcium from bones and can lead to deposits in blood vessels, lungs, eyes and the heart.

Phosphate binders attach to phosphorus in the body to control absorption through diet.

Porter also had to cut down on sugar, but said he likes to satisfy his sweet tooth occasionally with a milk shake at Another Time Soda Fountain in Rosenberg.

“It’s hard at first,” Marcia said of the changes they’ve made. “You just have to train yourself.”

Porter said that everyone, not just people with dialysis, have to force themselves to be active and not give up.

“I never gave up,” said Porter. “I figure the Lord is going to take me one day, but he’s going to really have to do it.”