For those with Chronic Kidney Disease as well as Dialysis patients, loneliness often comes with their Chronic Illness. Investigators from Concordia University found that the "onset of a Chronic Illness results in people feeling lonelier, even for those who have had a steady partner for 50 years or more." While the physical pain associated with Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis is great, typically the emotional pain is greater and many patients feel as though no one understands what they are going through. However, this is usually not the case.
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Some Facebook comments from patients include, "I feel worthless," as well as "I am starting to feel 'disabled' and it is affecting my confidence." Others suggest, "I am ashamed of my illness and my body image and self-esteem are eroding. I cannot even look people in their eyes any longer." Some patients have noted, "It is extremely difficult to look at myself in the mirror."
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How do Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients deal with their feeling of low self-esteem and inadequacy? They push their friends away and start withdrawing from family because it is often easier than repeatedly explaining their illness or how they are feeling. However, it is important for Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients to realize that they are not alone. Beyond the Chronic Kidney Disease Community, the following is a list of issues that only people living with a Chronic Health Challenge know:
1. When you’re first diagnosed, there’s a period of mourning. Take the time you need to digest your health circumstances and adjust to your "new normal." It is often not as bad as most patients initially think, but they may consider connecting with organizations and groups such as the KidneyBuzz.com Facebook Page (25,600+ members) for peer-to-peer insights.
2. Your habits may not make sense to others. Hence, if you feel tired or drained after Dialysis or a hectic day, take the time you need to recover and feel better. Your family and true friends will understand.
3. You never really get used to being sick. In fact, accepting being a Chronic Kidney Disease and/or Dialysis patient is often the hardest part. Still, by being open and sharing your feelings the transition can be made easier.
4. You can try to hide an illness, but that doesn’t mean it goes away. Do not try and do everything that you used to do - most Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients likely cannot. Determine the areas of your life that are most important to you and focus your time and energy on those specifics.
5. Keeping up with everyday tasks can be difficult. Thus, make a list, check it twice and try to complete the specific tasks listed. You will feel accomplished and a To-Do-List will help prevent important chores from falling through the cracks of your busy life.
6. It’s easy to blame yourself, even though it’s not your fault. Focus on the positive aspects of your life, not the negative. This can be as simple as being grateful that you woke up today.
7. It’s important to celebrate all of your victories, even if they seem small. Jordan Davidson(BuzzFeed Contributor) noted that a patient who was recovering from a stroke said, “During the recovery process I find things to be proud of myself for a lot — specifically, hiking to the top of the Highlands Bowl again for the first time in three years this year! Or being able to finish [reading] a book.” Use her as an example and take pride in the little things that you are able to accomplish every day.
8. Not all disabilities are visible. No matter how strong you are, careless comments still hurt, right? If your loved ones say, "You don't look sick," or "Stop being lazy - you are always tired," then know it comes from a place of not knowing the true side effects of Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis. Try to explain to them how you are feeling. Share this article and other KidneyBuzz.com articles with your loved ones so they have a better understanding of your regular struggles. Whatever you do, do not hold grudges!
9. You often have to pick the lesser of two evils between side effects of various treatment options. When considering types of Dialysis versus Kidney Transplant, Chronic Kidney Disease patients are constantly weighing the pros and cons. However, this is not much different than Cancer patients or other Chronically Ill individuals who must often contend with the downside versus upsides of different medical options. Family and Friends can be helpful and offer support to patients as they navigate toward the best options for their personal circumstances.
10. Years of surgeries and treatments can change how you look at yourself. Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients can feel self-conscious about scars or tubes which hang from their bodies. Many have dealt with this by viewing surgical scars and tubes as "Battle Scars," deeming themselves "survivors." Click here to ask others how they contend with insecurities related to Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis?
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Chronic Kidney Disease, Dialysis, Diabetic, High Blood Pressure and other patients with Chronic Illness know all too well that being sick is difficult. Still, it is not impossible for them to lead full and complete lives. Let your family and friends know that a good support system can get most patients through almost anything. Share this article on Facebook and Twitter with them so that they may intimately understand the struggles Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients must face every day.
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