Looking to the future
Caffie Suggs of Manila said every day is special. She doesn't let her medical problems keep her from enjoying life.
Caffie was diagnosed with high blood pressure which led to renal failure. Her symptoms started in 2004 and escalated to the point she had to have both her kidneys removed in 2005.
"I was at work when I got the call to come to the hospital to start dialysis," she said. "At first I broke down. You think you life is over."
Once she got over the initial shock, she adjusted her attitude and decided to live her life.
"Just look around, there is always someone who is in worse shape than I am," she said. "I am so thankful for the support of my family, my friends, and my church family."
Caffie grew up in the Lost Cane area with nine sisters -- Jonnie, Robin, Mavis, Shirley, Mildred, Renee, Tina, Helen, and Christine. She was next to the oldest. Her older sister, Jonnie Williams, passed away earlier this year.
"We had good times growing up," she said.
Her dad, the late Nathaniel "Nat" Suggs, worked on the Edwards Farm and at the gin for many years.
Her mother, Virgie Suggs, now lives in Manila. All of her sisters live in Manila, Blytheville, Osceola, and Paragould.
"We had a house full of women," she laughed. "We still enjoy getting together."
Caffie said she does miss her job. She was a guard for nine years at the Department of Community Corrections in Osceola.
"I made a lot of friends there and I always treated everyone with respect," she said. "When I had to quit they told me to come back and apply when my health improved."
She is a member of the Community United Methodist Church just out of Manila.
Back to the early diagnosis, she said her symptoms included feet swelling to the point it was difficult to walk, and high blood pressure. She underwent six surgeries. She is having one more surgery to relieve a blockage this week.
She goes to dialysis three days a week.
"I like to get up and get there early for the 3-1/2 hour process," she said. "Then the rest of the day is mine. I have met so many nice people there. Last week one lady gave me a bottle of nail polish. She knows I like nail polish. We are like family. I look forward to seeing."
Caffie does have to watch her intake of fluids.
"The dialysis takes the fluid off, but I have to be careful," she said. "Every once in a while I will have a soda but mostly, I stick with water and tea. I try to stay healthy and have a check up every six months. I am on the list for a kidney transplant and I have to do my best to be healthy and ready if and when one becomes available."
Diabetes runs in her family but she does not have diabetes and since her kidney surgery she has not had problems with her blood pressure.
She said being around people gives her a high and a will to keep going.
"I've got a lot of things to do and places I want to go," she said. "People tell me they are praying for me and I believe that has kept me going."
Her kidney doctor told her last week her blood work looked fine. She needed a little more protein in her diet and she said she can handle that.
Caffee agreed to share her story in an effort to help others who may be starting out on dialysis. Her message is to keep the faith and look to the good Lord for needed strength."
She enjoys fishing and working in flowers she has planted around her apartment.