Living with Kidney Disease
Can I Live a Normal Life with Kidney Disease?
Reprinted with permission from DaVita, Inc.
Although a diagnosis of chronic kidney disease can be frightening, it does not have to mean that an individual cannot live a normal and joy-filled life. There are many resources to help you do the things you've always done, including exercising, socializing and traveling. Your life will change, but once you've accepted those changes, you can continue to enjoy satisfying experiences and relationships.
Being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD) can be a shocking and distressing experience. But have hope. You can live a satisfying life with CKD, just as millions of people are currently doing. In fact, one in nine Americans is living with kidney disease today. Once you've accepted your condition and learned to take control of your health, you can go on to experience a new "normal," filled with all of the small and large joys that make for a rewarding life.
I've just been diagnosed with CKD – now what do I do?
If you've recently been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD), chances are you're feeling a range of emotions. Each person handles the news differently, but very often, those with CKD struggle with a variety of feelings:
1. The first thing you will probably feel is shock. You think that this couldn't possibly be happening to you. You may start to feel removed from the world around you, and you may find it difficult to think clearly, especially about the subject of your illness.
2. The next stage is often grief. In a sense, the "old you" is now gone, and you've become someone who must adapt to living with CKD. You are dealing with a loss, and it is normal to feel helpless about your situation.
3. Once you've passed through the grieving stage, you may find yourself in denial. It may seem like the diagnosis is just too big to handle – so you don't handle it, you ignore it.
4. Often those who are coping with a major illness go through a period of feeling extremely angry. You may feel as though this is a low blow, that you don't deserve to be saddled with a chronic illness.
5. After a time of struggle will come acceptance. You'll be ready to learn more about kidney disease and the lifestyle changes you'll need to make to maintain your health. You'll be ready to move forward.
It is important to understand that whatever you feel is okay. You've been handed some life-altering news, and it is only natural that it will take time for you to adapt to it. Accept your feelings, whatever they are. At first, you may find yourself on an emotional roller-coaster, experiencing different feelings every day, or even throughout the day. This is a good time to take it one day at a time.
Talking about how you feel is healthy, and it can help you feel better. Communicate with your family and friends and accept their support. In addition, there are many resources for those with kidney disease, including doctors, nurses, dietitians and social workers. You may even seek out your clergy leader or therapist. They all have experience with people who have been in similar situations as yours and will be able to guide you along your path. There are also support groups where you can meet people who share many of the same concerns and challenges.
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