Living with Kidney Disease
Can I Live a Normal Life with Kidney Disease?, continued
Traveling with Kidney Disease
Being a dialysis patient does not mean you have to miss out on the fun of traveling. A vacation can be just the thing to help you unwind from the stressors of daily living, and some experts believe that feeling happy can actually boost your immune system.
There are dialysis centers located all over the globe, making it easier than ever to get the dialysis you need to maintain your health while enjoying time away from home.
Begin by choosing a destination and the dates for your trip. The social worker at your hometown dialysis center can help you make plans. Ideally, you should contact this individual at least one month in advance of your trip. Note that some dialysis centers, including many located in popular destinations such as Hawaii, Florida, California and Arizona, require notice at least 3 months in advance. Consider also the time of year when you'll be traveling. For instance, if you want to take your family to Disneyland at Christmas, you may have to make arrangements six months or more before your trip. In general, the more lead time you have, the better the chance that you'll find a center to conveniently accommodate your schedule.
Your social worker will provide you with a list of things you'll need to bring with you on your trip. Be sure to take enough of your medications with you on your trip, along with a letter from your health care provider stating that you need to carry these medicines with you.
What You Need to Know Now About Sexuality, Fertility and Kidney Disease
If you have kidney disease, your body and emotional state are going through changes that may affect your sex life. CKD impacts your hormones, circulatory system and nerve function. You may find you have less energy for sex and less interest in it. Some medications cause unwanted side effects, including weight gain and acne. As your body changes physically, you may not feel as attractive. All of these physical and emotional variations can lead to less desire for sex, so it is good to be aware of this possibility.
You should talk to your partner and explain that the changes in your body, and the resulting changes in self-image, are not a reflection of your feelings for your partner. Even if you do not enjoy the same kind of sex life that you once had, there are many ways to express your feelings for your partner and maintain a sense of closeness.
Sometimes kidney patients and their significant others worry that having sex can be physically harmful. If you are on dialysis, you can have sex, just be careful not to place pressure on the access site. If you've received a kidney transplant, you'll need to wait for the doctor to give you the go-ahead. Once your scar has healed, you should be able to resume your sex life. Sex causes no danger to the transplanted kidney. Whatever your particular situation, don't be afraid to bring your questions about sex to your health care provider.
If you are considering having a child, it's important to know that women on dialysis can usually not get pregnant due to a lack of menstrual periods. If a woman on dialysis does get pregnant, her health and her child's health may be put at risk and both will be monitored closely. A woman who has had a kidney transplant will have a better chance of getting pregnant since she is likely to be having more regular periods and is in better health, overall. If you've had a transplant, your doctor may recommend that you wait at least a year before getting pregnant. In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you avoid pregnancy altogether.
It is easier for men with kidney disease to become parents, since men who are on dialysis or who have had a transplant are able to father children. If you and your partner have been trying for at least one year to get pregnant with no success, you may want to seek the advice of a fertility specialist.
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In junior high school, I'd gotten my hands on one of my father's old English books and read a story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Great Stone Face". The story is based on the natural mountain/rock formation in New Hampshire of the same name (you can see an image of it on New Hampshire state quarters). In the story, there was a legend that the person whose face looked like The Great Stone Face would be "the...