I’ve been through a lot as a kidney patient, as I’m sure you have, too. After 27 years of life with kidney disease, I sometimes feel a little down or get overwhelmed. I want to share a few things I’ve done to pick myself up and help me have the best possible experiences and outcomes. Hopefully, some of my strategies may help you to live a happier life in spite of kidney disease.
The most important thing for me is to focus on the positive things in my life. My family, friends, spirituality and faith are of great comfort to me and help me to keep a positive attitude. I am so happy that if I have to have a chronic illness, that the one I have is kidney disease. Kidney disease has many treatment options to keep me alive and allow me to live a healthy, happy life. Many other diseases do not afford patients that opportunity. I’d like to share some of the coping strategies I’ve developed over the years.
My chronic illness coping strategies
Keep a routine. I get up, get dressed, and participate in life whether I feel like it or not.
Exercise. Exercise sends the feel good hormones rushing through my body for nearly two hours after I exercise. I do what I can. Walking, riding a stationary bike, and yoga have been exercises I enjoy.
Don’t hang out with negative people. I surround myself with people who build me up and support me with positive thoughts and wisdom. I also focus on the positive things that could happen if everything went right.
Do enjoyable things with friends and family regularly. Whether we’re going out to eat, to the farmer’s market, a concert, the theatre, a movie, playing games at one another’s home, or just catching up to take a walk on the greenway, I hang out with my friends and family regularly. It’s important to stay connected to the people in my life.
Get enough sleep, but not too much. I find that 6-8 hours is perfect for me.
Eat a healthy diet. Through the Internet and dieticians available at my clinic and doctor’s office, I learned to create a diet that fits my needs as a kidney patient. Eating a proper diet has helped my lab values and my weight, and makes me feel better. This motivates me to eat like I should and makes me feel more in control of my disease.
Accept that feeling down is normal, and quite common in patients with chronic kidney disease. The treatments, the medications, the constant testing, and educating myself about the disease all can seem like a lot to deal with sometimes.
Join a cause close to your heart. I joined the Renal Support Network (RSN). RSN allows me to advocate for kidney patients while also educating myself. It’s been wonderful to help others, and the things I’ve learned have helped me personally to manage my disease.
Speak to your doctor. Some medications may occasionally need to be changed or added. Some kidney medications tend to cause issues and side effects. My doctor may be able to prescribe a better medicine or some other form of treatment for me like a support group, or she/he may refer me to a psychologist. Nephrologists deal with these types of concerns in their patient populations daily.
Keep up with lab values by getting the results after every blood draw. Seeing the positive or negative changes in my lab values allows me to take responsibility for my health, keeps me informed, and makes sure somebody is routinely checking my lab values. Knowing and understanding my lab results allows me to adjust my diet or lifestyle to improve my outcomes. Realizing that I do have some control over this disease tremendously helps my outlook.
Ask for help when you need it. I have friends, family, co-workers, doctors and nurses that are all part of my health care team. They all want to help me live the happiest, healthiest life I can live.
About the Author
Beth Holloman is a retired Business Education teacher living in Raleigh, NC with her husband, Mike. Beth has performed peritoneal dialysis and has been lucky enough to receive two kidney transplants at UNC Hospital. Her most recent transplant was October 2015. She is a volunteer and advocate of RSN.
Web ID 1040