WAYNE — Bonnie Pease and her husband, Mike, welcomed Pease’s sister Cindy Brown into their home Aug. 1.

They gave up their first-floor bedroom to Brown, who suffers from serious medical problems and cannot climb the stairs to the second floor.

And Pease, 60, spends her days helping her sister, sorting medications, coordinating home health care providers, cooking meals that fit a renal diet, getting Brown to medical appointments and driving her three days a week the 22 miles to and from kidney dialysis treatments in Augusta.

For those things and everything else her nine-month-older sister has done for her, Brown is profoundly grateful this Thanksgiving.

“She’s amazing at what she does,” said Brown, 59, leaning over to give Pease a quick hug as the sisters sat on the couch in Pease’s cozy living room. “There’s not even words to express how thankful I am. Even when I’m sick I give her a hug and say, ‘Thank you for being with me.’ I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

Tuesday was a good day for Brown. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are less good; those are dialysis days, when Brown spends more than four hours hooked up to a machine to cleanse her system of toxins. Those are the days when her confusion means her sister has to help her with almost everything.

“She’s had a rough road the past eight to 10 years,” Pease said.

But life is looking better in general.

Because of the dialysis, Brown is no longer mostly bedridden, as she was for the past two years or so in her Lewiston apartment.

The two sisters were always close as they helped raise younger siblings. When Brown started with tales from their youth, Pease nudged her, “Don’t let out any secrets.”

Brown pointed to a colorful cane by her side. “She gets me everything I need,” Brown said. “She purchased this cane, bars for the bathtub. She gets stuff that I can’t get.”

And the women were expecting 27 family members — maybe more — for Thanksgiving dinner. Pease, who said she has learned to read all food labels much more carefully with Brown in the house, said Brown will have “teeny portions” of the feast, with an eye to keeping liquid and salt content minimal.

Brown is hoping she’s able to get some rides to and from dialysis treatments so Pease can take time to visit their youngest brother, Tait Brown, 47, of Lewiston, who just began chemotherapy for cancer. Pease is helping to advocate for his medical care as well.

“We really need to find a ride,” Brown said. “Between my brother and me, it’s a lot on her.”

“I’m trying, but it’s not looking good, sis,” Pease told her.

Pease and Brown have been contacting various agencies, but Brown’s form of MaineCare won’t cover the ride cost, they said.

“She’s going to get there one way or another,” Pease said.

Brown was born with one functioning kidney, and when that failed almost 11 years ago, Tait Brown donated one of his, for which Cindy Brown remains very grateful.

“He’s a hero, definitely a hero,” Cindy Brown said. She brings out a photo of the two of them, which she takes with her during each hospital stay.

That kidney works, but it doesn’t remove all the fluids that have accumulated around Cindy Brown’s heart and lungs and in her tissues.

Since the kidney transplant, Brown has had several heart surgeries, and finally she could no longer be on her own.

“I’ve been independent all my life,” Brown said. She worked sometimes two and three jobs at once, mostly in group homes for people with dual diagnoses, veterans’ homes and the elderly; then she did medical billing until becoming too disabled to work.

Now she relies on her family for help.

“I couldn’t ask for a more amazing sister,” Brown said.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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