I don’t believe anyone ever wakes up in the morning and thinks to themselves, “Gosh, I hope that someday I come down with Kidney Disease.” I mean, who wants to think of ever having to deal with something that causes you to need to change your lifestyle? In reality, Kidney Disease is something that you can learn to control and you can come to the realization that the disease doesn’t control you. How does one go about handling this disease? The answer lies in being positive, accepting limitations and sharing with others to create a support group.
“we are never on our own and never have to go through a challenge all by ourselves.”
Since being diagnosed, I have found great strength by helping others. When I first came to the clinic, I knew no one. I decided to change that and began my quest to meet people. I started in the waiting room by introducing myself to anyone and everyone. Soon we began to have great conversations and share the things that worked for us. Have a question about how to control fluids? Ask one of your fellow patients. Need to know where a great place is that is kidney-diet-friendly to celebrate your birthday? No need to worry, someone will have a place to go. As we began our dialogues, we began to notice that the mood lightened and smiles abounded.
I also began a group that meets for dinner every month. This group is open not only to patients, but also to family and friends. After all, this disease also affects loved ones and caretakers. As our families began to know each other, support for everyone became the word of the day. Knowing that others are going through the same things that you are, as a patient or as a loved one, gives hope that this is a challenge that can be met and handled. Our evenings haven’t focused just on problems; we also share successes, great tips and, most importantly, a knowledge that we aren’t in this alone. Having a support group means that we are never on our own and never have to go through a challenge all by ourselves.
“Working towards understanding what will make the quality of our lives better brings all of us hope.”
Another important thing to me was educating my family and friends about my disease. When I was first diagnosed, a sense of panic spread through my family. Kidney Disease?! Renal failure?! Dialysis?! Didn’t that mean that my life was going to be cut short? What about my children? What did this mean to the quality of life that I could live? Educating my family and friends has given me hope and has given them hope as well. Knowing what could happen, how I could help control my disease, and what I needed from those around me, has kept us focused and looking forward to a long future full of adventures. The more that we learned, the more we understood that we could have a full and exciting life. Speaking to other patients and their families has taught all of us that we need to embrace life and look for new adventures; traveling to any place in the world is an option! No matter where you turn, there is someone who can help you with your treatment. Hope spreads as we understand that with treatments, medications, a good diet and support, we continue to live life fully.
Giving hope to others means having hope for myself. The more I believe that I can live a full and happy life, the easier it is for me to be positive with others. Working towards understanding what will make the quality of our lives better brings all of us hope. Seeing others living fully means that we can do the same. As I become stronger, more educated and more positive, I bring a sense of hope to those around me.
Kidney Disease may be a part of my life, but it is not the entirety of my life. I will continue to encourage others to share their feelings, develop partnerships with our care providers, welcome new patients into our circle and keep moving forward with our gatherings. The more that we surround each other and work together, the more we hope. I guess in reality, to me Hope means Helping Other People Evolve and take charge of their disease.
Debbie Sorensen was born in Huntington Park, CA on October 8 1957. She attended South Gate High School and is a graduate of Brigham Young University—Hawaii where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English, a minor in Psychology and a teaching credential. She also earned a Masters of Science in Educational Administration from California State University Fullerton. Debbie has been married to Eric Sorensen for 25 years and is the proud mother of three sons, Matthew (20), Sean (17) and Brandon (16). She has been a teacher for 30 years and teaches at La Habra High School in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District. Debbie has been treated for Kidney Disease for ten years and has been a Dialysis patient at Fresenius Dialysis Center in Anaheim for one year.
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