Coming Back From Kidney Disease: Are You Ready to Work Again?

As per discussed in older posts by Joe Cosgrove, kidney disease, and renal failure, although imply a really hard time for patients, still leave room for them to get the most out of life. One of the biggest issues that concern the vast majority of renal failure and dialysis patients is whether or not they are able to work and perform their old labor duties.

As a matter of fact, many people with chronic kidney disease or renal failure manage to work either full time or part time. Moreover, some of them even go to school or are able to take care of their families and homes. Others prefer to perform volunteer work while still enjoying their hobbies: they go out with peers or even have regular workout and exercise routines. But since these types of conditions come with a heavy burden for those who suffer from them, it is no less than understandable to see patients wondering about whether or not they are ready to work.

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Here are some of the questions that patients ask the most about the possibility continuing to work while on treatment or suffering from any type of kidney disease:

I had a job prior to suffering kidney disease. Can I go back to work?

Most patients, especially those who start dialysis or undergo a transplant want to go back to work almost immediately. Some assert that it helps them feel like they are getting their lives back to what they consider normal, whereas others may take some time to recover from the fallout of the treatment or the post-operatory in case they underwent a kidney transplant surgery.

I am currently employed, can I just continue working while on treatment?

Some dialysis patients manage to work full time soon after they start the treatment. Others, due to the nagging consequences of the treatment, decide to rather take either a part-time or remote work. What seems to be clear, is that dialysis patients prefer to take jobs that are not as physically demanding as their older ones. In fact, working from home with a flexible schedule seems to be the best option, as patients are required to go to hemodialysis from time to time.

Whichever the case, patients should be able to talk to their employers about possible changes and conditions that can help them continue working while on treatment. And this is particularly important since employers likely ignore what kidney disease is about and its implications, therefore, addressing concerns about the job is perhaps the wisest thing to do.

As a matter of fact, doctors are often willing to talk to the patient’s employer to explain and address their condition. Employers will obviously have concerns about the possible limitations, which is why having the doctor address these concerns really come in handy.

Am I protected against labor discrimination?

There are several acts that protect people with some kind of disability from labor and job discrimination. Being fired or being denied a promotion due to some kind of condition or illness is entirely protected by the Civil Rights Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the American with Disabilities Act.

Employers often ask for medical certification stating that the patient indeed suffers from a specific condition, and cannot under any circumstances fire or force employees to resign simply because they require surgery or treatment.

How do I know if I am ready to work?

Of course, health should always be the patient’s top priority. Prior to recklessly going back to work—ignoring medical recommendations—, patients must decide whether they feel physically and mentally strong to take on their duties again. This process, of course, should always be accompanied by medical rehabilitation.

People with kidney disease or renal failure often go through the following rehabilitation process: first, they need to get themselves back to a much healthier physical overall state; second, they have got to convince themselves that, although they suffer from these diseases, there is still room for positivity; third, they need to start feeling confident and ok around peeps, coworkers and relatives; and fourth, they need to learn how to self-manage themselves to regain their productivity.

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As previously recommended, accompanying rehabilitation with physical activity is tremendously beneficial and will help patients achieve the aforementioned goals much easier. Volunteering and helping other go through the same process also provides a sense of productivity and will definitely help them gain back the skills that could unquestionably help them get a job in the future. The whole idea is to not let the disease impair the patient’s mental state, for, although these conditions imply difficult times, the spirit is everything. There is always another opportunity and there is always a chance to get the most out of life even while on dialysis or treatment: imagination and the will to live is key.

Some significant concepts about the Renal Compensation

As we have seen in different posts, the renal function is vital for human’s living. Through this process, the human body can filter the toxins and different substances from the blood, which cleans it and gives to people what they need to have a good quality living. If the renal system does not work adequately, a renal failure may occur. This problem could be defined in a few words like the impossibility for the body to process the different substances from the blood. A renal failure could be acute or chronic. Let’s see some of the most imperative concepts about this topic and some of its elements.

Acute renal failure

This renal failure is when the human body loses an important blood amount, or if for some reason a particular person ingests a toxic substance, causing the kidneys to fail and eventually to generate renal failures. In other words, an acute renal affectation could be generated by different external situations that change the normal functioning of the human body.

Chronic renal failure

This affectation is generated for some diseases or healthy hereditary problems, causing failures in the renal system. In some occasions, these issues are incurable and may require constant medical intervention, like dialysis or surgeries.

These two concepts are vital to understanding what the Renal Compensation is because they explain in a few words how the renal system works and which are its affectations. Having this clear, we can talk about other important concepts like the respiratory compensation, the respiratory acidosis, the respiratory alkalosis or the Glomerular Filtration Rate. However, it is important to understand firstly what the Renal Compensation is.

Renal Dialysis Technician

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The Renal Compensation concept

It could be defined as the process where the kidneys can regulate the acidity in the plasma, that is to say, that through the Renal Compensation, the human body can establish and control the pH in the blood.

When the plasma pH differs from 7.4, the body could suffer acidemia or alkalemia. Acidemia is when the blood acidity is lesser than 7.4, which means lack of acids which must be in the blood. Alkalemia occurs when the plasma pH is higher than 7.4 and means an excess of acid substances in the blood. When some of these problems occur, the human body can suffer respiratory or metabolic problems, and they could happen if there is a lack of Renal Compensation.

The Glomerular Filtration Rate

This concept refers to the filtered fluid volume in time by the human body, from the renal system to the Bowman capsule, which is part of the renal functioning where all the body substances to be excreted are filtered. Through this rate, the correct working of the renal system is measured, in other words, the Glomerular Filtration Rate is used for knowing if the kidneys and other elements from the renal circuit are operating in an adequate way.

Usually, the Glomerular Filtration Rate is measured through different techniques. Some of the most important are the measurement using inulin, the measurement with radioactive tracers, the estimation using the Cockcroft-Gault formula, the MDRD formula or the Starling Leonardo technique. Each one of these methods is developed to know and understand how the level of filtered fluids in the blood by the renal system, is working.

The Glomerular Filtration Rate is measured millimeters per minutes. In men, the adequate rate is 90 ± 14 millimeters per minute, in women is 60 ± 10 millimeters per minute.

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Respiratory compensation

It is a medical method to change the blood acidity varying the respiratory rate. Put differently, the Respiratory compensation is a mechanism to alter the breathing way in the human body so the plasma pH can vary, depending on what the person needs.

The normal breathing rates in humans are measured in breaths per minute and are distributed like this:

In children, the normal rates are: from birth to six weeks of living, between 30 to 40 breaths per minute, from 6 months to three years, between 25 to 40 breaths per minute, from three to six years, 20 to 30 breaths per minute, and from six years to ten years, between 17 to 23 breaths per minute.

In adults, the rates are 12 to 18 breaths per minute, older than 65 years, between 12 to 28 breaths per minute, and older than 80 years, 10 to 30 breaths per minute.

We have seen some of the most used and recognized concepts in the Renal compensation process, but there are much more that must be understood to have a fuller picture of this term and its functioning. For example, other important notions about it are the Creatinine clearance, the Kt/V and its standardization, the Renal blood flow, the Ultrafiltration, the Filtration fraction, the PaH clearance, among other elements that are fundamental for the renal system understanding and its renal compensation.

Related: Dispelling The Most Common Myths About Kidney Disease by Joe Cosgrove

Dispelling The Most Common Myths About Kidney Disease

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the prevalence of chronic kidney disease amongst the general population is around 14 percent. Out of the 661,000 Americans who have kidney failure, 468,000 approximately are undergoing dialysis treatment and 193,000 individuals live today with a functioning kidney transplant. These numbers can perhaps help us dismiss one of the most common myths surrounding kidney disease, and that is that this illness is rare and uncommon in today’s society.

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Today here in Joe Cosgrove’s Blog, we want to take some time to talk about some of the most common misconceptions behind kidney disease and what it means if you are diagnosed with renal failure. As it happens with many diseases, people are often misinformed and misguided about their expectations and their personal involvement into their own treatment and the expectancy of quality of life.

Kidneys are specialized organs in the body with the function of removing excess water and waste material from the blood and expelling them through urine. There are many reasons why kidneys may become damaged or suffer an overload of stress as their function is taxing and extremely important in context with how many systems of the human body operate.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common misconceptions behind kidney disease and its treatments.

You can easily tell if you have it.

The truth is that the large majority of people who have kidney disease are completely unaware of it. This happens because, in the early stages of the disease, symptoms are mostly nonexistent. The irony of this is that your best defense against kidney disease lays on early detection, but by the time the signs and symptoms are abundantly clear, then the disease is probably reaching a very advanced stage. Our recommendation for early detection is to get tested early if you are a person with a propensity for kidney disease due to your own health or if kidney disease is common in your family.   

There is little you can do to prevent it

There are many things you can do to prevent kidney disease before you get it and even after you have been diagnosed. A healthy diet and a regular dose of exercise goes a long way not only preventing from stressing your kidneys unnecessarily but also helping you with your overall health in general. Regular over the counter pain medication is particularly taxing on your kidneys. It is common for people to abuse this type of over the counter medicine because it is so easily available and because we have a bad habit of taking it for everything. Remember that your kidneys perform a difficult function so any help you can give them from your end will go a long way on making sure they remain healthy.

If you are urinating fine, then you are probably OK

While changes in your urine and in the way your body reacts when you are peeing are the most common indicators of kidney health, they are not the only signals when something is wrong. Even if your kidneys are damaged, they may continue to pass urine without any pain or changes in color while not filtering your blood properly. There are other symptoms like fatigue; swelling and joint pain that could raise a red flag and indicate you should probably get tested. Remember that a family history of kidney disease is a reason to be concerned if you have any doubts.

Doctor and Patient

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Dialysis is painful

Patients undergoing dialysis talk about the physical feeling more in the terms of “discomfort” rather than “pain”. While it may be a bit uncomfortable, the new technologies and the advances in health treatment can ensure that they pain you have to experience is minimal and only while you get used to the treatment, something that happens rather quickly. Pain is not something you should seriously consider when thinking about dialysis because it is a factor you can pretty much ignore as negligible.

Your diet is going to be strict and boring

This is a rumor born out of pure ignorance. You have to take control of your own health and talk with your nutritionist to come up with a change to your eating habits and find foods that can be good for you while being tasty and easy to prepare. Changes to your diet may be necessary but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice eating all the food you love. You just have to become smarter about the way you treat your body and be more conscious about what you eat. That is something we can all used a little bit of.

I cannot travel on dialysis

Patients on dialysis are able to travel normally as long as they play things out accordingly. It isn’t difficult to find treatment centers where you are going and schedule appointments in advanced. There are also great new alternatives that can let you take your equipment with you and receive the treatment wherever you want.