“From the neck up is where you win or lose the battle. It’s the art of war. You have to lock yourself in and strategize your mindset.” –Anthony Joshua
I was so afraid. I really thought dialysis was a death sentence. Am I going to die? I asked my doctor. That was almost four years ago. Today I feel great, although very tired after each dialysis treatment. A three-hour nap is often in my schedule. I won the battle over my fear and probably eliminated even more serious health problems. Believe it or not, I enjoy my dialysis treatments now.
So, how did I overcome my fear and win the battle of my kidney illness? I let go of what I couldn’t control (ESRD stage 5) and took command of what I could—my attitude. I also studied my disease, especially what makes it worse, and more importantly, what makes it better.
Scientists have shown that habitual negative thinking and fear can attack your immune system, which fights diseases, viruses, bacteria, and parasites. On the other hand, a positive attitude not only makes you feel better; it can keep you healthier longer. The mind and the body work together (psychoneuroimmunology); if you are stressed, worried, or feeling negative, your brain will cause stress hormones, such as cortisol, to be released. Excess cortisol can lead to heart disease.
Heart disease is the most common cause of death among people on dialysis.
So, I am winning the battle of kidney disease (and heart disease) by committing to think positively and enjoy every day to the fullest. I also found that helping others on dialysis live more positively makes me feel better. A few of my fellow patients just want to give up, and some are so sad and depressed. I do what I can to cheer them up and take the time to talk to them. Doing that makes me feel better too.
But, to fight this battle, there is a progression of steps to be taken. There is no “one size fits all” method of creating a positive outlook. Each of us must find our own way. My approach includes the following:
- As attributed to Abraham Lincoln, “Folks are usually just about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” I made up my mind to be happy.
- Realize that change takes time. I try to be patient with myself.
- I take time to do things I enjoy. For me, that’s reading and visiting friends.
- I set reasonable goals for each day.
- I try to make others feel better.
- Winston Churchill probably said it best: “Never, never, never give up.”
Guy Churchouse BS, JD, ENP was employed in engineering and marketing positions in Public Safety technology. Recently Guy was Vice President of a communications logging and recording firm. Guy was also a technical instructor/presenter for major conventions. He now enjoys writing non-fiction full time. Guy is on in-center hemodialysis at Fresenius Renal Research Institute Newport Mesa in Newport Beach, CA.
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