Overcoming The OBSTACLES of Kidney Disease
Kidney Disease: We have all read stories and articles in which the first sentence begins with something like this: “Webster’s Dictionary defines __________ as _____________”. I almost started this article when I was struck by the definition of words I was looking for: Motivation and exercise. Now, do not think that I am completely full of myself, because those who know me will tell you that you can not be further from the truth. What made me understand who I am was to realize what I had experienced and reflected on how I treated it and the results achieved.
I hope that some of what I have to contribute can help you.
Did you ever think that life did not treat you properly? Maybe things were going well and Boom! Maybe you thought you had a problem or a particular problem, then a small change upset your world.
My life was certainly like that and I must admit that sometimes I wondered who was there to look for me … and why? I knew that was not really the case, but it seemed to me that no matter what I did, an obstacle always jumped me.
“My mental process”
What I have learned for many years and many tribulations is that the obstacle was usually my mental process. Through trial and error, I learned that the problems and problems that I faced in life are just a part of life and that I must handle them as best I can. I found many skills in me, and so do you.
As I write this article, I realize that I am eight years older than when I was diagnosed with kidney disease in 1998. I was surprised and overwhelmed. I had never been sick in my life and always looked after me. I was very active physically, I lifted weights and walked with passion, played a lot of golf and really enjoyed working in my backyard. I ate well and my weight has not changed more than five pounds in 20 years.
Motivated to “win”
Kidney disease What was that? This is where the motivation appeared. I did not know it at the time, but my instinct told me that to treat this new problem, kidney disease, I should try to understand it.
Once I was motivated enough to study my illness and try to understand what was happening with me, I began to feel stronger. The disease moved me in a subtle way and I had to control myself. The more control I felt, the stronger I became and the more motivated I was to “win” my new battle.
“Accept the challenge”
When I was diagnosed in 1998, I was independent. I had my human resources consulting business since 1992, the year I left my job to become my own boss. I lost my business, however, and lived on my savings and my partial retirement income and my 401K until everything went away. Then, I refinanced my house and now I live in the “bank house”, as long as I can make the payments.
The obstacles are of all sizes. I’m not telling you all this so you can complain about “Ole Jim.” I cried as much as anyone, I cried out to the world more than anything and I reminded God more than once that I had done it. I do not deserve all that. The message that always came back was “take on the challenge”.
The 10 challenges
- Study and know yourself and your enemy.
The first challenge is to know and understand your enemy. Kidney disease, like many other obstacles in life, must be understood so we can know what we are facing.
I went online and read everything I could find about kidney disease. Most of it was strange to me and in a language, I did not understand. But one thing I got was knowledge, and when my doctors started talking to me in terms that I did not understand, I learned more. As scared as I was, I began to know my enemy.
- Participate in your treatment, in your life.
Challenge number two was a bit more difficult. I had to do something with this knowledge. I started asking my medical team questions: what could I eat and drink without causing further damage? What had he done to make me so sick? How could I be so sick and feel so good?
You see, my illness was found by accident. I did not have any symptoms that I knew, so the questions came to me like honey from a hive. But when I began to understand both my enemy and what I could do to help, I found the next obstacle.
- Never accept what it is. See what it could be
My third challenge was perhaps the most difficult. I had to master my mental state and work on what was happening to me and move on. I got to a point where I knew my illness and how sick it really was. I started to experience some pretty ugly side effects of the disease and medication.
In the years before dialysis, I had seven main surgeries and two biopsies. My weight has varied from 15 pounds per week! I also had a flushing of the abdominal cavity 41 times and I broke both elbows and three ribs and had a commotion as it fell into my bathtub! In addition to that, I had fistula surgery just before starting dialysis in 2000. I understand that I am sick and, blessed as I have been in my life, I learned that all these situations are good lives.
- Embrace your sense of humour. Laughter is very good.
The fourth of my challenges was the easiest to manage for me. I will always be grateful to my friends and family for helping me maintain my sense of humour.
I have had quite painful experiences in my life. Through them, my parents and my family encouraged me to try to find the humorous side. This does not mean that things were not difficult or that I did not feel pain, but I knew that most of the pain lasted little (if you wish). Even if your abdominal cavity is drained 41 times, it has a humorous appearance, if you are looking for it!
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- Exercise your body and your mind.
Challenge number five was one of the most difficult for me. Paradoxically, it was also one of the easiest. I have practised most of my life and I know my body quite well. I know what I can and I cannot handle it and I read everything I could about the exercises that could benefit me in my condition.
I went back to lifting weights as I did before need dialysis, during my dialysis phase and after my transplant. In fact, I had never left. At one point in my illness, however, I went from 250 pounds to less than 50 pounds. I could only raise a five-pound weight with one arm, compared to 60 pounds before I got sick. I went from running 3-5 miles a day to just walking through my entrance. The willingness to move forward in my exercise greatly facilitated the other challenges and I felt much stronger.
- Fight for what you want.
My most difficult challenge was to approve my transplant. During my illness, it was discovered that I also had liver cirrhosis. I really did not need another challenge, but it was mine, and I was going to overcome it too.
It took me a year and the support of my wife, my kidney donor, my daughters, my brothers, my father and many friends to convince the transplant team that I could handle a new kidney without a liver transplant My fear of not being accepted As a transplant candidate it led me to even more challenges, and each of them became another obstacle to overcome. “Another block to cross!” It has become my personal motto.
- Return something.
Challenge number seven was my most interesting effort. I received my transplant in 2003 from my wife of 40 years, Joyce. The temptation to let go at sunset and enjoy my rebirth was quite strong, but during my illness, I met so many wonderful people. I knew I had to give back to other patients, doctors, nurses, technicians, dietitians, social workers, friends and family.
I have found organizations that have given me this opportunity and I appreciate giving as many blessings as possible to others. My work with the Renal Support Network involved some of the most satisfying activities I have ever experienced. I had the opportunity to speak in countless places across the country and I became very active in the ESRD network 9. I sit on the Patient Action Committee, Learning Network. and the network’s board of directors. I had the honour of sitting at National LAN for the past two years and meeting with several CMS representatives in Washington. All these organizations have given me the opportunity to give back to a large community, the renal community, the ways in which I never dreamed before kidney disease.
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- Feed your spirituality. We all have it!
My eighth challenge was and is for me, the most important. I continued to develop my personal relationship with God and it made me suffer so much turmoil. When he had no one else to turn to, he was there. Whatever your spiritual persuasion, feed it! I did not win this battle by myself!
You are currently participating in Challenge Number Eight. The fact that you read this story says that you are somewhere in your set of challenges and that you can win. I still have kidney disease and I will be for the rest of my life. What I do with this is a new challenge every day. I have overcome so much that I feel stronger than I have ever felt in my life! I discovered that I could accept physical, mental and emotional problems in my life with a lightness, vigour and determination that I had never felt before.
- Decide to go ahead and run.
Life is really a journey and not a destination. Therefore, as they announce: “Go ahead, let yourself go!”. Remember that taking the challenge requires work, but the reward has no description.
- Live life one day at a time.
I am experiencing challenge number 10 beginning each morning when I wake up. You can too. I live life one day at a time.
Bear in mind that your presence is a gift to the world!