Love Story: Couple goes through dialysis side-by-side

Both have been undergoing dialysis for over a decade.

Brian Kelly
February 12, 2020 - 11:24 am

EAST ST. LOUIS, IL (KMOX)-When high school sweethearts Candee Denzmore and Nathan Rice were married in 2008, little did they know that within months their vow to support each other in sickness and in health would be put to the test. 

Just months after their wedding, the East St. Louis couple found out that Nathan's kidneys were failing due to a rare kidney disease, and he would have to go on dialysis. A couple months later, on Nathan's birthday, he was having surgery to replace his dialysis catheter when Candee got sick. "I decided to take myself to the hospital and found that I too had failing kidneys and I was going on dialysis as well."

"It was the worst day I every experienced," says Nathan. "I was ignorant as to how it works. I assumed I gave it to her. She never had any problems and all of sudden she's at the hospital. She calls me and says 'I'm going on dialysis' and I was like 'What do we do'"?

Nathan had just graduated from L'ecole Cullinary School. "We were planning our life and I get the call. It was hard." 

But Nathan, 43 and Candee, 45 didn't let it slow them down. In fact, with the help of the care team at Fresenius Kidney Care in O'Fallon, Illinois. they found a home treatment option that allowed them to raise their three children, and live a close-to-normal life.

"In the beginning", Candee says, "he would do dialysis treatment (at a center) at 6 o'clock in the morning. I would go with him and I started researching dialysis." That research led to the discovery that would change their lives. "I told him there's a better option. We can do this at home." It was the day that Nathan was getting the catheter that would allow him to undergo treatments at home, that Candee found out she too required dialysis.

"We have matching diaslysis machines, which we always think is kind of funny," says Candee. "They sit on different sides of the bed."   Nathan's treatment is 9 1/2 hours a night. Candee's is 10 1/2 hours. They undergo the treatments while they sleep. Nathan also has a midday treatment which takes 3 hours.

Nathan Rice and Candee Denzmore share their story on TIAM Weekend

As for the love the two have for each other as they face their challenges, Candee says, "From the beginning we knew that we wanted to be together, that we wanted to raise our kids a certain way and that we loved each other. So, it didn't matter that the dialysis came, it was just 'okay this is another part of what we have to do to make things work' and we make it work."

She says their now-grown children still can't believe they have two parents on dialysis. "We keep it the same way. We walk around with a smile on our face every day. We're happy that we wake up." 

As for her message for others: "You can live your best life. Sometimes it's a struggle. It's a struggle for all of us sometimes but it defintely can be done.'