Joe Cosgrove knows that most patients who suffer from End-Stage Kidney Disease or ESRD usually have two options: have a kidney transplant or go on dialysis. These options are both difficult and tend to have many side effects and a major impact on the patient’s life. This is why some patients turn to a third option: not doing anything.
It sounds insane and suicidal, but let’s keep in mind that we are talking about humans and human emotions, it is not merely about survival but being able to do what it emotionally best for each one of us. If we think about it from that perspective, the idea of deciding to stay away from the knife of having to go to the hospital three times a week doesn’t seem that crazy anymore.
As everything in life, deciding to stay away from dialysis or to stop it also has a set of important consequences that need to be carefully analyzed. In the end, it is the permanence of life we are talking about.
Staying Away from Dialysis
Dialysis offers many patients the chance to live longer, despite this idea, going on dialysis is not going to guarantee you that your life will improve. For some people, it may work, but for some others living more severe kidney conditions, dialysis may be as good as staying home watching the T.V.
It is important to acknowledge that in this kind of situations when chances are that you won’t get any better, you have the right to say no to dialysis. Beware that before making your mind up, you should talk about it with your close ones and your doctor. Seeking for advice from your healthcare provider, your family and friends is a good way for you to make the best possible decision.
Everyone in the United States has the right to decide whether or not it wants to go under dialysis treatment. Even when you are not able to make that kind of decision, the law says that you have the right to have a surrogate, which could be a family member, a friend or even a lawyer who can make that decision for you. This person needs to fill out a form known as a durable health care power of attorney and must be willing to act on your behalf.
When you decide to stay away from dialysis it is important to be clear about your wishes and values. If you choose to have a surrogate, sharing these thoughts may be useful for it to know in advance what you really want to do with your life once you are not able to make a decision on your own.
What Is the doctor’s Opinion?
Your doctor will help you decide if you are still doubtful about dialysis. It will recommend you what is best for you given your particular circumstances. Each body is different and the doctor will give you its advice based on your body and how it may react to dialysis.
The doctor may even recommend you to get advice from a specialist who can provide you and your close ones with emotional support. These recommendations from the doctor are very useful when you don’t know what to do and want to talk to a trained professional about your thoughts and feelings.
Other professionals who could help you are social workers or your lawyer. These individuals are ideal if you want to get great advice considering all possible outcomes to your decisions. In the end, the only one who has the final decision on what to do is you.
Let’s say that you decided to go under dialysis and instead of getting better you are getting worse or you feel emotionally exhausted. Then it is time for you to decide whether or not you want to continue or stop it.
If you stop your dialysis treatment consequences are that your life span may reduce and your body will keep on deteriorating. However, as it was said earlier in this article, each body is different, this means that we all react in a different way to the same procedures. If you decide to stop dialysis because it is causing you other severe health problems, then it is possible you will get better.
Related: Dialysis: Deciding to Stop
It is probable that the health care team which is taking care of you may want to have a word or two with you after you decide to stop the treatment. They know that you have the right to choose over your body, but they will want you to have a clear understanding of your decision before you make it. They will check on your periodically to evaluate if you are getting better or worse.
Regardless your decision, it is very important for you to open and fully understand what dialysis means and how it can affect you if you decide not to take it. Keep in mind that death from kidney failure is not going to be painful but you will gradually lose your spark as every vital organ will shut down.