I can't believe it has already been a month that I have been on dialysis. I feel as if I have gone through every stage of acceptance and have dealt with numerous obstacles physically and emotionally.
There have been moments where I have dealt with cramping, nausea, vomiting and low blood pressure. All of these side effects were corrected and all part of figuring out a new patient’s body and its reaction to dialysis. As undesirable as these symptoms were, I still feel as if the mental aspect was the most difficult to deal with. It can be difficult trying to answer the hundreds of questions flowing through your head and trying to grasp the thought of dialysis and what it means.
It is so quiet and somewhat somber in a dialysis clinic that a new patient can't help but feel somewhat sad or depressed. It is OK if you have these feelings, but also know it is extremely vital that you learn to fight through that to more positive thinking. The best fighters are the most honest fighters. What I mean is that it is just as important to recognize the severity and unfortunate circumstance you are facing as it is to have a positive outlook. The times we feel sadness, anger or fear of our disease are what keep our fuse to fight lit. It keeps you grounded and in a realistic mindset.
One of the greatest things I have done in this first month is to seek out advice from the nurses and other patients. Every patient’s experience and story is different and has the opportunity to either inspire us to handle things better, or make us realize it could be worse and help develop an appreciation for a true fighter. There are patients from all sorts of backgrounds that will be with us. What connects us all are the fight for good health and a "normal" life. That is a fight that can bring even the most opposite of people together.
I wanted to write these blog spots in hopes of helping others who are about to start their journey as well as attracting those who have been fighting for years for help and guidance for myself. Life is extremely unexpected and can be very difficult. However, there is nothing we face that we can't ultimately win, even if it includes a few bumps, bruises and needle sticks along the way. If anything, I want people who have read these blog posts to realize that every single fighter has the ability to positively affect and inspire others. We are all professionals at being us, so use who you are to help others find the courage and fire to want to realize that in themselves. Having a positive attitude may not be the cure to our fight, but not having one can guarantee that your fight will be even harder. Thank you all for reading and thank you to American Kidney Fund for giving me this opportunity.
Steve Winfree of Knoxville, Tennessee, is chronicling his first month on dialysis for Kidney Today. For more information on what to expect in the first month of dialysis, visit the American Kidney Fund’s FIRST30 resource center.