A reminder of what a diagnosis feels like . . .



I am a member of a forum on Facebook for people doing dialysis, living with Kidney Disease, caregivers or health professionals dealing with Chronic Kidney Disease.

The other day a man bravely wrote a post on the forum about starting dialysis and having panic attacks. He wanted to know if it was normal.

What a moment of reflection I found in his question.

I felt for him.

I remembered back to my first dialysis treatments; the stress of it being a medical emergency. The sheer terror. The foreign sounds of the machine. The feeling of the emergency catheter that was placed in my upper thigh. The sights and sounds of the fellow patients in the hemodialysis unit. It was awful. 

Luckily (what a word to use in this context) I was so sick and my blood was so toxin-filled that I slept through most of it.

I started dialysis so long ago – at age 21. I had forgotten how scary it was to begin to understand yourself as a sick person and to start dialysis treatment. 

It was comforting to see all of the support on the forum in response to the question. Everyone agreed that is was normal to have panic attacks. People listed medications they were taking that helped. People shared their personal fears. People sent love and good wishes.

Chronic kidney disease leads to a different experience than many other diseases and conditions.
For one, most people are diagnosed with no symptoms or symptoms that mean the kidneys have already failed. Either extreme is surreal.

Either you have a disease and you kind of don’t believe it – because there are no symptoms.

Or you find out you have a disease and begin treatment immediately – to save your life.

That being said, any health conditions or diagnosis are traumatic.

I my opinion, our society doesn’t give enough consideration to the impact health concerns have on a person’s life. Experiencing an illness has to be given the same consideration that a divorce or job loss or death of a loved one warrants. It’s a huge deal.

(We’re expected to keep a stiff upper lip and be strong.)

I was touched that this man so innocently asked if it was okay to be struggling with his new status as a “sick person” and with starting dialysis . . . OF COURSE IT’S OKAY.

Seeing his post reminded me that being sick IS hard and that we need to be compassionate with each other.

We need to be compassionate with ourselves too.

I think I needed the reminded (the wake-up call) that it’s okay to admit to struggling when we’re challenged in life. 

It’s okay to admit it.

It’s okay to ask for help.

Frankly, we can only do and take so much. And that is okay.

I thanked him for asking his question  . . . and reminding me that we don’t always have to be strong.


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2 Responses to A reminder of what a diagnosis feels like . . .

  1. vancouvera says:

    KAREN, As always you are an inspiration to me. Thank you, VERA

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