Chronic disease is hard to handle. It’s never ending, has treatments but no cure, and affects the people around you too. Like any bad news, it has stages to how people react to it. These stages are according to The Kidney Patient Guide:
Shock: Often, newly diagnosed patients (and sometimes their family members) go into a state of shock. This is the feeling that life is going on around you but you are not really involved.
Grief: People may feel overwhelmed by grief and loss, as if they have been bereaved. They may feel helpless and have difficulty thinking clearly or dealing with day to day life.
Denial: It’s common for people to decide, at this stage, that they “won’t think about it.” This denial that the disease exists is like a “defense mechanism” that can help patients escape from feeling overwhelmed until they are more able to cope.
Acceptance: Gradually, reality of kidney failure is acknowledged, and people begin to be able to think about the implications and the changes that need to be made. At this point of acceptance, they begin to adjust successfully to their condition.
I want to say that my dad, family and I skipped straight to acceptance, but I think we more of just flew through the first three stages. We knew he had been sick, and he already had a lot of medical problems going on, so this was just one more. My dad has already been confined in the house, so he hadn’t lost much of his freedom, and my dad never denies himself or his body, and none of us did either. As a unit, my family is supportive and kind. We are also realistic. My dad jokes about his lifespan sometimes, and hopes that he’ll live to my younger sister’s graduation. He’s never lied to us, and always keeps us informed. I appreciate that, but I think, over time, I’ve become sort of numb to it all.
I’m sharing my and my dad’s story, but others are sharing their own stories, too. Whether it be through online forums or Facebook posts, they’re describing the real hardships of going through life with chronic illness and how they come to terms with their conditions.
“I found it very hard, at first, to accept the fact that I had kidney failure and to adjust from having an extremely busy job that I loved, to doing so much less. However, I soon realized that I could never ‘go back’ and decided to look ahead. Balancing the medication, hospital visits and blood tests has become a way of life. I am nearing dialysis and feel, for me, it’s the next step to a normal life. Think positive – it’s the only way.” – J.S.
“Having been diagnosed as having kidney failure, I was in a state of mental limbo! Not knowing what to expect… then I was introduced to the Haemodialysis Clinic. The staff are so professional and caring – you are put at your ease straight away. In the end, it’s just like going to a club. The friends you make at the Unit are all in the same boat as you. It can be tough at times but it can also be fun.” – J.M.
” I have found that the most-needed quality for success is having the right attitude to your illness – not letting it get the better of you. Never give up, do what you can, keep busy.” -G.
These all sound pretty similar and pretty fitting of what you’d see in a movie. I even at first questioned their sincerity, but after interacting with my dad and allowing him to fully share his experiences with me, I feel that I can attest to it.
Yes, kidney disease is hard, and yes, it sucks, but there is no way to get rid of it, so we have to make do. We have to keep looking forward.