I know you’re concerned about your diagnosis. I want to tell you what my life has been like living on peritoneal dialysis. Through what I share, I hope you’ll be able to see someone with chronic disease can still have a good quality of life.
After 45 years of living what I thought was a pretty exciting life, fairly healthy and running my own business as an educator and instructor, I was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in 2010. The bad news hit me pretty hard. My doctor said I needed to transition to a life on dialysis and make changes to my diet and lifestyle. With the illness came a drop in my red blood cell count, so I was exhausted all of the time and had no endurance.
I had some initial fears before transitioning to peritoneal dialysis, but speaking from my personal experience, I have found that after the first 3 or 4 weeks on therapy, all of my symptoms greatly improved or actually disappeared. My red blood cell count is normal, and on my last doctor visit (they give me a report card to help me know how I’m doing) all of my reading were bang on target.
In fact, having chronic kidney disease has actually changed me for the better and added value to my life. For example, I discovered I actually love to cook! Much of your diet with kidney disease becomes a bit of a balancing act. You have to pay attention to the ingredients in your food like sodium or salt, phosphorus, potassium plus of course other things, too. As a result, I started cooking more at home and discovered that I actually enjoy cooking and preparing food. That’s something I never would have guessed before my diagnosis.
I also have a pretty positive attitude about dialysis, so I started talking to new patients at my kidney clinic about the good things I’ve experienced with my own dialysis and answering their questions. I felt I could help settle their fears. Some of them were so fearful of the unknown. I’m thankful I can offer help to others and give back to my community.
As someone of the Christian faith, I find that experiencing a chronic disease has in some ways made me more compassionate toward others who are also in pain. In some ways, I feel better able to relate to others who have chronic conditions or health challenges. Until you experience these things yourself, or through someone close to you, I just don’t think you can understand as well.
Every day is a brand new day, and thanks to my therapy, I’m enjoying life once again. All of those horrible symptoms I experienced in 2010 are nearly gone. Back then, I had no energy, no endurance and no desire to even get out of bed. But now I’m so grateful my health and quality of life is so much better.
I believe the single most important thing to keep in mind is keeping a positive attitude. This will of course depend on each individual, as some will naturally be more positive and others might need to work on it a little more. But I believe your attitude is everything. It also helps to have understanding support from your spouse or a loved one.
If you wonder whether there can be life after chronic kidney disease, I’m happy to say there certainly is for me. I’m now 60 years old and have been on dialysis nearly three years, and life just keeps getting better.