KidneyTalk Podcast

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Dating with Kidney Disease, and When Do You Tell?

Jenny Huey and Mike Herrera

Posted June 13, 2006

Welcome to KidneyTalk!

On this week’s show, Lori Hartwell and Stephen Furst explore the realities of dating while living with kidney disease. Their guests are Jenny Huey and Mike Herrera.

Jenny is a young woman on peritoneal dialysis who has had two kidney transplants and is single. Mike, who is in his early ‘50s and has been out of the dating scene for a while, is currently enjoying his first transplant.

Speaking from personal experience, Lori, Stephen and their guests reassure listeners that a diagnosis of chronic kidney disease (CKD) does not mean that a person cannot enjoy all of the pleasures that life has to offer, including dating and marriage. In fact, springing the news on someone that you have CKD can actually help separate the wheat from the chaff.

“You do learn very fast who your friends are, who’s going to stick by you, and who’s going to love you for you,” says Jenny.

Lori agrees, pointing out that there are “a lot of jerks” on the dating circuit, and that by telling them you have a chronic illness (though not necessarily on the first date), you quickly find out who is worth pursuing. With some potential suitors, says Lori, “You tell them that you have kidney disease and they leave skid marks! The good news is, you meet the nice people who really want to get to know you. It taught me what real relationships were.”

So, when do you tell the person you’re dating that you have CKD?

“When I first started dating, it would be the first thing out of my mouth,” says Lori, “and I don’t think that’s really a good idea. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy: ‘I don’t think I’m worthy, and let me tell you why.’ I think it’s really important that you share all of your gifts and then say, ‘Oh, by the way, I have kidney disease.’

“If you make that the central focus of your life,” adds Lori, “people are going to reject you, because that’s how you perceive yourself, as a kidney patient...but that’s about the 20th thing down on the list. We have so many other gifts and talents.”

This week’s show offers other helpful hints on dating, such as scaling back what you do while on a date. For instance, if you’re feeling a bit sluggish, suggest an activity other than bike riding. Take in a movie instead. Enjoy a walk along the beach!

Email us with your comments! We would like to know what you think about the show.

With your Hosts...

Stephen FurstStephen Furst got his big break into movies in "Animal House," in which he played Flounder. Stephen has also starred as Dr. Elliot Axelrod in "St. Elsewhere" and as Vir Cotto in "Babylon5." He is a successful television and movie producer/director and a kidney patient.


Lori HartwellLori Hartwell is the author of Chronically Happy - Joyful Living in Spite of Chronic Illness, and President/Founder of Renal Support Network. A kidney patient since the age of two, she has consistently strived to instill hope into the lives of people who live with chronic kidney disease. 



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