DICKINSON, ND — Residents of rural North Dakota are used to traveling long distances for certain services.
The good news: Thanks to the kidney dialysis unit at CHII St. Alexius in Dickinson, that journey is a little shorter for some patients. The unit treats patients from western North Dakota, northern South Dakota and eastern Montana, saving many of them hundreds of miles a week.
Among these patients is a man from Beach.
Harvey Wolski makes the trip to Dickinson twice a week, but there’s something special about him that we think is even better news.
Harvey Wolski is not a complainer.
“No complaints today,” he said.
That day, he was just starting his dialysis. He comes to the kidney dialysis unit at CHI St. Alexius in Dickinson twice a week. You will never hear Harvey grumble or feel sorry for himself.
“I couldn’t complain, old as I am,” he joked.
Harvey is 102 years old.
He started dialysis four years ago, at the age of 98.
“It was kind of an unusual case. We don’t usually start someone at that age,” said Luann Berger, director of the kidney dialysis unit at CHI St. Alexius in Dickinson.
Harvey looks forward to his twice-a-week dates.
“It’s something to break the monotony,” he said.
Other than his kidneys, Harvey’s health is good. Dialysis allows you to maintain your quality of life and your autonomy.
“He can pretty much take care of himself. He can’t walk too far, but you can cook his own meals and move around the house to wherever he wants to go,” Harvey’s son Lyle Wolski said.
He’s been to a lot of places in his 102 years. Harvey grew up near Valley City and fought in World War II.
“I lived the Battle of the Bulge. I was there one year and three months in Europe. It was kind of a bad situation, but I lived it,” he said.
After the war, Harvey and his wife purchased a farm north of Beach. His grandson has taken over, but Harvey always helps out when he can.
“I still drive the tractor,” Harvey said.
Harvey’s eyesight fades and his hearing isn’t what it used to be.
“My ears are a little bad,” he admitted.
Still, it’s pretty sure to know the secret to a long and healthy life.
“Agriculture and fresh air. Lots of fresh air. And when it’s hot, I have to take a bottle of beer,” he laughed.
When he’s done here, chances are Harvey will be outside, enjoying more of that precious fresh air.
Lyle, who is 67, says he’s not sure he’ll be as healthy as his father when he turns 102. Lyle had a desk job and said he didn’t get as much fresh air and exercise as his dad.
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