Unwanted change—like being told your kidneys are failing, choosing a treatment, or when dialysis or a transplant are needed—can bring about feelings of crisis. Life turns upside down and everything seems to have a question mark on it: your health, your relationship with your family, your freedom, your work, and your dreams. You may even have been told about your health in a way that raises more questions than answers.
Some common emotions people feel during a crisis include fear, confusion, numbness, sadness, or loss of control. People handle tough times differently. Sometimes bad news is too much to handle and we block it out, minimize it, or even deny the importance of what we learned.
“Denial is a really big thing and you have to break through it before you can realize that you can control things. I didn’t take care of myself until I came out of denial.”
Could you be denying a “crisis” relating to your kidney disease? Seeing that you may not be fully dealing with what is going on in your life is a step in the right direction. Working through your feelings instead of trying to avoid them is part of coping with kidney failure.
Fear Of The Unknown
“Emotionally, it threw me into a terrible loop, because I had no clue what it meant. You know, am I going to live or die, and what’s going to happen next?”
“I was scared. I didn’t know what was going to happen to me.”
“I felt of no use. I thought I was just going to die. I didn’t know you could live with this.”
“I did triathlons at the time, and [my doctor] said, ‘You will never be able to do that again,’ and I kind of took that like I wouldn’t be able to walk at all. So that was kind of misleading and really shook me up. I just thought my whole body was going to deteriorate, and I would die within a few months. It is a couple of years later now, and I’m fully functional. I can’t do triathlons, but I can walk and I can drive.”
All of these people had a fear of the unknown and expected the worst. Seeking information to help you learn what you can really expect may help you move beyond a crisis stage.
Realistic information about what to expect can help you see that life will be different, but it can still be good. Talking to other people who have been through what you are going through can help. Your care team can answer your questions and ease your fears. A mental health counselor or a social worker (if you are on dialysis) has special training to help you learn to cope with kidney disease.
Try to make one of these contacts. If you can’t make the call, ask a family member or friend to call for you. Time alone will probably not get you where you want to be. The sooner you ask for help, the sooner you can begin to feel some relief.