Dialysis is a two-way street for those who have been diagnosed with kidney related diseases or complications. On one direction of the street, you have the hope of living, but the other side is filled with the uncertainty of how a lifetime of treatment will be like and just how much of a toll the side effects of dialysis will affect one’s body. This latter aspect of dialysis can lead many to a state of depression and be wanting to not deal with constant treatment and everything it implies. Life-saving procedures come with a change in lifestyle that is often rather drastic; knowing how to deal with life after dialysis is sure to help any patient assume the change of lifestyle and routines with much more tranquility. Joe Cosgrove has vast experience in dialysis and understands just how daunting a challenge going through it can be. Here are some ways to cope with dialysis.
1. Talk about the elephant in the room
Patients who are undergoing dialysis, or any treatment, usually don’t like to talk about what they are going through. Talking about treatment can be uncomfortable and for some, it can even be embarrassing. The fear of being excluded or being treated with pity can also justify our decision to not be as vocal about treatment as we would like to be. The truth of the matter is that your support group needs to know what you think and what you expect from them going into and throughout treatment. You must feel as if you had their complete support and they won’t be able to give it to you unless they know what’s going inside your head. Talking about treatment and what it entails can be awkward at first, but with time you should feel more comfortable talking about it and so will your support group. An elephant in the room is only uncomfortable if you refuse to acknowledge it.
2. Do some research and ask questions
Unless you are a nephrologist, you will be going through dialysis with a lot of questions, fear, and anxiety. This is completely normal but totally manageable. If the internet has given the world anything, it’s access to information whenever and however we want it. You can easily find medical journals or videos that will help you understand a little more regarding what to expect throughout treatment. However, since some of the medical terminologies can be a little complicated and some information could create more fear, it’s important to jot down any questions or fears you may have regarding what you have investigated and expressed them to your doctor or nurse. After all, they are experts in the matter and they can guide you through any fears and dispel any myths you may have read about.
3. Don’t let depression set in
Depression is one of the most common results of dialysis and it’s quite understandable. Having your life change completely and knowing that there are some things you can’t don anymore can lead to depression. However, this does not mean depression should win. There are things dialysis patients can and should do to deal with depression before it gets out of hand. Exercise is a great way to start. Your doctor can indicate which exercises you can do that won’t go against your treatment as well as the frequency to do them in. Another thing you can do to fight depression is taking up a hobby that makes you feel entertained and which doesn’t require a lot of physical activity. Hobbies usually help us focus on the task at hand and not on what we are going through. In other words, distractions make it harder for depression to set it. Finally, if you feel depression is going to take over, get some professional help. Go see a psychologist and get what is ever on your chest off. Staying quiet about your depression is not an option.
4. Set up a diet and follow it judiciously
A dialysis dietitian is usually part of treatment. They are there to help you set up a meal plan that will help you go through the treatment more efficiently and without complications. They will advise you on what types of foods to consume more and which ones to stay away from. Following their recommendations is key to coping with dialysis.
Going through dialysis doesn’t mean your world or your life is over. Many patients lead wonderful lives despite receiving treatment. Yes, life will change. You must get used to a new rhythm and lifestyle, but that’s not a bad thing. You will be eating healthier; you will be doing more exercise. And, finally, if you allow yourself the opportunity, you can lead a happy life. Remember that you have a support group who is willing to help you any way that can. You are not alone, and that my friend, could be the most important realization when it comes to coping with dialysis.