A life changed by illness and struggle can be transformed and rebuilt. Rebuilding is a long, slow, and sometimes painful process. With time and perseverance, a new life takes shape that looks like the old, but is stronger, wiser, and more fully human. Kidney disease has taken you down a path you would have preferred not to travel. It has caused changes you don’t like. It has put pressures on you and your family that seem, at times, too heavy to bear.
Whether your life stays in this shape or becomes something new is in your hands. You can build a new life that is full and meaningful, if you want to. Your tools to do this are emotional. One tool you can use is to embrace your life changes—such as diet and fluid limits, drugs, and dialysis or transplant— as being good for you because they keep your body healthy. When you embrace these changes, you affirm your value as a person by saying you are worth taking care of.
In contrast, people who fight these changes take poorer care of themselves. As their quality of life declines, so does their hope. As you embrace change, it affirms your worth and helps you practice healthy physical and emotional self-care. The better you feel, the more hopeful you become about your life and how it can be good.
Embracing change means trying to do better, not to be perfect. No one can be consistent 100 percent of the time. A better target to aim for is growth. When you shoot for growth, you not only embrace change, but you take it one step further. You actively look for ways to improve your health, avoid isolation, express your feelings, handle conflict, and so on.
Start now by thinking of one change you would like to work toward and one area of growth you would like to start for yourself.
Positive Attitude And Kidney Disease
Embracing change successfully involves finding a way to have a positive attitude:
“Just think very, very positive.... Do not dwell on, ‘Well, I’ve been diagnosed with kidney failure and I have to go on this machine three times a week.’ If you get yourself in that mode, you’re just hanging on; you’re going to dread it. So try to find other activities...try to go on with the closest to normal life that you can, and you’re going to be all right.”
“I am a 64-year-old woman, diagnosed with lung cancer 5 years ago. Since then,I have had bladder and kidney cancer, had a kidney removed, and due to the effects of chemo damaging my other kidney, I have been on dialysis a little over a year. I volunteer 5 days a week at the Cancer Center, putting in 25 hours a week... I do not feel sorry for myself, nor am I bitter, because I am so grateful to be alive. Also, I wholeheartedly do believe a positive attitude takes you a long way. It doesn’t cure cancer, but it does make life worth living. I have seen cancer patients do better when they have a positive attitude...as well as dialysis patients. I think we all need to put laughter in our lives, enjoy the things we have, accept the things we cannot change, and ‘stop to smell the roses.”
Having a positive attitude doesn’t mean being happy every minute or even every day. But in the long run, being glad to be alive and making the most of the time you have are attitudes that can help you be as healthy as possible with kidney disease, or any other chronic illness.
Living with Kidney Disease
Meet other people just like you who have found ways to live well with kidney disease.