Maintaining A Career With Chronic Kidney Disease

Maintaining A Career With Chronic Kidney Disease

How do you maintain your career now that your doctor has confirmed that you have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)? You have been through a lot and yet you have remained so positive and so upbeat. How do you go about maintaining a career while living with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?

These are questions that most people suffering from chronic kidney Disease (CKD) ask all the time.

Kidneys are very vital organs for the functioning of our body. They are responsible for body detoxification. Additionally, they produce hormones which help to regulate blood pressure and also stimulate the production of red blood cells.

There are various forms of kidney diseases. Some forms are acute, which means that they cause sudden damage to the kidneys. Others are chronic, which means that they result in the decline of kidney functioning and they can lead to renal failure.

Many people living with Chronic Kidney Disease don’t realize it until it is too late. When symptoms of CKD manifest and the doctor confirms their worst fears, it takes a toll on them, sometimes resulting in acute stress on the patients. This has an enormous impact on individual’s personal life and career.

It is, however, important to know that all is not lost. You can learn to live with Chronic Kidney Disease and live a happy life.

So what’s the secret to living a happy life with Chronic Kidney Disease? 

If you already have Chronic Kidney Disease, then you are probably worried about your personal life, career, and so many other things. Apparently, no single magic pill will wipe out this emotional and mental stress you may be experiencing right now.

The truth is that no one can make the pain and sadness to vanish out of your life, except you! It is only you who have the key to a better future.

Here is a list of things you can do to live a happy life and maintain your career.

1. Get enough information about Chronic Kidney Disease

They say that knowledge is power. It is important to research thoroughly about CKD and all the available treatment options. Seek all the necessary information that you need to know about living with chronic Kidney Disease. By getting the relevant information, you give yourself a sense of confidence that will put you in control of your situation.

2. Don’t live in denial 

This is the biggest mistake that people living with chronic diseases do; living in denial. Don’t just pretend that everything is fine. It is crucial that you acknowledge that you have an illness.

Talk to your colleagues about it so that they can understand you better. Sometimes it may be uncomfortable to disclose to them, but you can be sure it is the right thing to do. All you have to know is that it doesn’t have to remain like that forever.

3. Regular exercises are critical 

Ask any physician, and they will tell that exercises are an important component in managing chronic conditions. Besides, exercises help you to live a happy and healthy life.

Talk to your physician and see the kind of exercises that they recommend for your condition. Regular workouts will help you to remain fit and robust to take on your routine.

4. Stay away from negative people

Office spaces are always full of different kinds of individuals. Negative people will always yield negative energy. They will make you feel sorry about your situation which only makes matters worse.

Don’t waste this moment, right now with people who have nothing positive to offer to your life. Ask yourself a few questions. What good does it do you hanging around negative people? Does it help to make you feel better?

5. Look out for support groups

It is important to know that you are not alone in this journey. There are a lot more people out there living with Chronic Kidney Disease. Go out and find them.

Most of these people have been through what you might be experiencing right now, and they were eventually able to overcome it. These groups offer invaluable support to their members.

These are great avenues to know more about the illness, the kind of diet that you should be taking as well as the exercises for your body. Additionally, they will hold your hand and keep you from making mistakes that can make your condition worse.

A Rookie’s Take on Dialysis

A Rookie’s Take on Dialysis


Okay, so I have only been on dialysis for about a month now (12 runs) which is why I am qualifying myself as “rookie”.  For those who have been on dialysis longer, this article will probably make them smile knowingly (and then want to send me out to get coffees for everyone).

But for those who don’t know anything about dialysis, and more particularly, for those who are staring down the prospect of starting dialysis soon, hopefully my ramblings here will be enlightening.

Here are a few of my early observations.

1.  Dialysis > Death

This trumps all other observations really.  The first dialysis treatment on a human being wasn’t until 1943 (…).  Canada’s first hemodialysis treatment for patients with chronic renal failure was performed at the University of Alberta Hospital in 1962.  Before those remarkably recent dates, the only option to kidney failure was a slow and painful death.  So, whatever inconveniences or difficulties I share in the rest of this blog, the overriding truth is this: I’m not dead!

2.  The Dialyzer gives me 10% kidney function

I’m not sure what I was expecting.  I suppose I thought dialysis was like taking a tylenol.  I have a headache, I take a tylenol, I have no more headache.  This is not the case.  I had 6% kidney function, I take dialysis, I have 10% kidney function.  Consequently, there are still a lot of limits that I must function within. Diet is important and there is a long list of foods that I can’t eat (chips, fries and chocolate being the most notable…kale and okra are also on the list, but I hardly notice them).  I am still quite tired and at times can feel sick.  Again, the real benefit is the aforementioned motto: I’m not dead.

3.  Dialysis is the hardest work your body will ever do while you are “doing nothing”

It all looks so quiet and peaceful lying there, wrapped up in warm blankets, watching TV or reading a book, but man, your body is woooorking.  All the blood in your body is being pumped out, put through a dialyzer and then pumped back in.  This happens over and over again for four hours.  Every part of your body is affected.  One of the things that I have struggled with is pounding headaches.  Those are slowly becoming less troublesome, but they have not been pleasant.  One time, after dialysis, I felt as though all the blood that was put back in my body ended up in the wrong places.  I felt so off.  It took a few days to recover from that.

4.  Warm blankets are one of the best things in the world

One of the first things that happens when you go to your dialysis appointment is they give you blankets that have been warmed in a special oven.  Seriously, there aren’t many better acts of kindness than that.  Kinda makes me want to throw all my linens in the dryer before bedtime each night.

5.  The dialysis community is pretty sweet

The nurses, the nephrologists, the patients, the supporters, the staff, we all share a certain camaraderie.  There are knowing looks, insider dialysis jokes and warm smiles because these are people who are familiar with “the machine”.  Everyone has a story.  Some, like me, are rookies to the whole process, others have been on dialysis for more than three decades.  But we all belong.  We are all in the dialysis circle.

6.   “You will feel great” is a relative statement

Prior to dialysis, many people said to me, “just wait, you will feel so great after dialysis”.  While it is true that I feel much better than I did when my kidneys were tanking just prior to going on dialysis, I am nowhere’s near as healthy as I was when my kidneys were at 40%.  I guess it is like Canadian winters in a way.  After two or three weeks of -30, many of my fellow Canucks are walking around in shorts and t-shirts with big smiles on their faces because it is a balmy -4.  I am thankful for how I feel.  I have adjusted to the new normal and I am glad for the health that dialysis provides, but it sure isn’t the picture of perfect health.

7.  Dialysis is a mental game as much as it is a physical game

I remember thinking several years ago when I considered the possibility of dialysis, “who has time to go to the hospital three days a week for four hours a day?”  The answer: well, really sick people do.  I wasn’t doing much else with my time; my calendar was pretty open.  Still, it kind of reminds me of when one of my daughters started kindergarten.  The first week was sheer bliss and wonder; she had been anticipating it for months, but when the second Monday rolled around and I had to shake her awake to eat breakfast and catch the bus she moaned, “how many more days do I have to do this?”  How could I explain to her that “baby, you’ve just begun”?  Some days, even now, I sigh as I think about heading to the clinic, getting all hooked up and then sitting there for four hours.  I’ve got at least another few months of this before transplant, but even then, there is no guarantee that I am done with dialysis for ever.  I have to choose to accept my lot without complaining; it is a daily decision to be positive.  I see this in some of the fellow dialyzers that I have met.  They still have a smile and a positive attitude.  I want to be just like them when I grow up!

8.  Cool drugs

I just started taking a drug that boosts the hormones that produce red blood cells.  All dialysis patients need to take this drug.  Interestingly, it is the same drug that Tour de France racers have been disqualified for taking.  So, if you hear that I am applying for the 2016 Olympics just remind me that the IOC is very stringent in their testing.

9.  The role of the support person is critical and demanding

My dearest and best friend, Jennifer, has been with me every step of the way in this process.  It is not a simple deal to have to sit there while your loved one goes through dialysis.  Sometimes I wonder if it is more draining to have to wait and not do dialysis.  We are slowly learning a routine that works best for us, that allows Jennifer to be there and involved, but also creates space for her to meet a friend or go for a walk.  We are trying to create a plan that is sustainable.  This doesn’t come right away, but it is worth the effort to figure out.

10.  The transition from dialysis being “all of your life” to “a part of your life” is a slow one

Dialysis is only 12 hours a week.  That still leaves me a whopping 156 hours.  So why does it feel that dialysis is consuming my life?  We have struggled with that question a lot during this first month.  The reality is this is such a strange, new, demanding and invasive process that it takes a while to get in the swing of it.  I am either preparing for dialysis, or sitting through the procedure, or feeling the effects of it after.  But that is slowly changing. A week ago, I had a Saturday when I felt “not terribly sick.”  I did stuff.  Other stuff.  Non-dialysis stuff.  It felt great. I am sure that as the days and procedures continue I will feel more and more that I have a life outside of dialysis.  Just be prepared that it doesn’t happen over night.

In conclusion, one of the statements that has allowed us to experience grace through all of this is “I didn’t get sick over night and I won’t get better over night.”  We are learning and growing through this new adventure.  Overall, I am grateful for the possibility and opportunity of dialysis and will hopefully continue to observe and learn as we go.


Depression & Dialysis: Coping & Dealing

Depression & Dialysis: Coping & Dealing

Dialysis, isolation, depression, anger. Each of these words has a separate meaning but they seem to go hand-in-hand with each other. For many dialysis patients, these words combine to form a “new normal” state brought on by living with kidney failure. I know this, because I live it.

I started this journey in January 2008 and I have seen, heard and shared a lot with other chronic kidney disease and dialysis patients in the past eight years. Many patients, myself included, have many co-morbidities. We have to see multiple physicians and specialists, and they prescribe a myriad of drugs. Going to dialysis three times a week and constantly having to visit different doctors often brings on a flood of anxiety and feelings of depression. This disease has a way of taking over your life.

Having kidney failure changes a lot of things, and that can contribute to feelings of depression and isolation. One of the first things that can change quickly is your social life. Throughout my eight-year run on dialysis I have lost many friends who stopped coming to visit or just no longer wanted to get together. I could no longer eat the same foods or drink alcohol, and I had to limit my fluid intake. I couldn’t travel on a whim anymore—it’s hard to be spontaneous when you have to be attached to a machine for four hours, three times a week. Eventually these friends felt they could no longer hang out with me; others were just put off or freaked out by the entire process of dialysis and my physical changes.

I was not prepared for the physical changes this disease would wreak on my body. My skin became four shades darker, extremely dry and flaky, often peeling and itching. Every inch of my body itched and/or flaked from my scalp to my feet. My legs and feet would expand between treatments due to the fluids retained in my body. To this day, I break out in dry patches, or in pimples on my face and back. These changes are hard to look at in the mirror every day. They can make patients feel ugly and not want to be seen by others, increasing their isolation.

Many patients, myself included, experience extreme fatigue and a sense of confusion or forgetfulness. We nickname this “Kidney Brain“—you feel “fuzzy” or have problems remembering things or find yourself losing your place in thought. I have heard patients say they feel this sense of “fuzziness” is often at its worst right after their dialysis treatments.

This is not an easy topic to write about but it’s something that we need to bring into the open.

We need dialysis care teams to have this conversation with patients not once, not twice, but ongoing. I believe we need more collaboration between the mental health community and the renal community so that caregivers can help identify patients who are isolated or may be depressed. In an ideal world, dialysis centers would have a mental health professional—a psychologist, therapist or some form of counselor—on staff or at least affiliated with the center. Since patients are at treatment so often it would be convenient if there were a mental health professional available for them on-site.

I am doing my part to help patients in my community reduce isolation by creating opportunities to meet others facing similar challenges for socialization, fun and recreation through a small nonprofit, For Kidney’s Sake. I don’t think the only time a patient goes out of her house should be to go to the doctor’s office or dialysis. I don’t think a patient should be embarrassed by how he looks. I am convinced that the lives of dialysis patients can be improved dramatically by creating these kinds of connections.

This issue should become a national movement. If we talk about it, we can improve it. We can improve the lives of dialysis patients, one day at a time!


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What Kidney Dialysis Can & Can’t Do

What Kidney Dialysis Can & Can’t Do

A lot of folks suppose dialysis replaces the function of healthy kidneys. This is partly accurate. The primary job of the kidneys would be to remove waste and extra fluid from the bloodstream. But your kidneys have other duties too. They make and release hormones that control and regulate certain body functions. Unfortunately, dialysis is not able to make these hormones that are essential. Patients in the later stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD) will desire medical nutritional supplements to compensate for the hormones their kidneys are unable to create.

Dialysis removes fluid and wastes

Kidney DialysisThe primary aim of dialysis will be to replace impaired renal function. When your kidneys are damaged, they’re no longer competent to eliminate wastes and extra fluid from your bloodstream economically. Waste such as creatinine and nitrogen build right up in the bloodstream. Your physician will have these levels carefully monitored if you have been diagnosed with CKD. Among the greatest indicators of kidney function is your glomerular filtration rate (GFR).

In case your GFR level is below 15, dialysis becomes essential. Before dialysis, patients frequently felt weak and ailing. This really is the primary advantage of dialysis.

Electrolytes are certain minerals the body requires to operate correctly. They’re important for our overall health. We get most of these minerals from the foods we eat. But too little or too much can make you ill. Healthy kidneys help control the rates of electrolytes by filtering the surplus and keeping what exactly is needed.

For patients with CKD, following their renal dietitian’s recommendations is a significant characteristic of regulating electrolytes. A renal diet supplies good all-around nutrition while restricting proteins and minerals that are certain. Your dialysis session becomes effective, and you may feel better as a result.

Dialysis can’t replace hormones

Your kidneys are a part of the body’s endocrine system. The endocrine system controls certain body functions by making and releasing hormones into the bloodstream. When your kidneys are damaged, they may create very little hormones or none in any way. Sadly, dialysis cannot fabricate or replace these chemicals. These will need to be replaced in the body with medication.

Among the hormones your kidneys create is calcitriol (vitamin D). Calcitriol allows your body to absorb calcium from the foods you eat. Without it, your body would not be able to get enough calcium, even if you’re taking calcium supplements. Calcium has many functions in the body. One of its own main functions is keeping bones strong. A deficiency of calcium can make bones weak and fragile. Calcium is also important in preserving a normal heartbeat and keeping your nerves and muscles working properly. Your doctor may elect to prescribe a vitamin D supplement such as prescribe ZEMPLAR®, in case your kidneys are not creating calcitriol.

Red blood cell production is signaled by erythropoietin

Another hormone your kidneys produce is erythropoietin. Erythropoietin sends a chemical message to your bone marrow to make red blood cells. Kidney DialysisRed blood cells are the cells that transport needed oxygen through the entire body. Without sufficient rates of oxygen, your body’s cells WOn’t have the energy. In case your red blood cell count is too low, you can develop anemia. Anemia is likely to cause you to feel dizzy and weak, a hint that there is not enough oxygen making its way throughout your body. If you are anemic, your doctor will prescribe EPOGEN® or EPO be given to you during your dialysis treatment.

Renin is. Its primary task is really to regulate blood pressure. Nonetheless, some patients with CKD produce an excessive amount of renin. Renin that is extra can cause your blood pressure to grow. Should you have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure, renin that is too much can elevate your pressure even more. High blood pressure is the second most common cause of CKD. It can also accelerate kidney damage. Your physician may prescribe a medication to help lower your blood pressure.


Nonetheless, added medicine might be required to replace hormones and enzymes. It is vital to follow along with your healthcare team’s recommendations regarding treatment. Your total health depends on treating the dearth of renal and endocrine functions of your kidneys.

Hemodialysis Clinic

Hemodialysis Clinic

In hemodialysis, a machine filters wastes, salts and fluid from your blood when your kidneys are no longer healthy enough to do this work adequately. Hemodialysis is one way to treat advanced kidney failure and can help you carry on an active life despite failing kidneys.

With hemodialysis, you’ll need to:

  • Follow a strict treatment schedule
  • Take medications regularly
  • Make changes in your diet

Hemodialysis is a serious responsibility, but you don’t have to shoulder it alone. You’ll work closely with your health care team, including a kidney specialist and other professionals with experience managing hemodialysis.

Why It’s Done

Your doctor will help determine when you should start hemodialysis based on several factors, including your:

  • Overall health
  • Kidney function
  • Signs and symptoms
  • Quality of life
  • Personal preferences

You might notice signs and symptoms of kidney failure (uremia), such as nausea, vomiting, swelling or fatigue. Your doctor uses your estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) to measure your level of kidney function. Your eGFR is calculated using your blood creatinine test results, sex, age and other factors. A normal value varies with age. This measure of your kidney function can help to plan your treatment, including when to start hemodialysis.

Hemodialysis can help your body control blood pressure and maintain the proper balance of fluid and various minerals — such as potassium and sodium — in your body. Normally, hemodialysis begins well before your kidneys have shut down to the point of causing life-threatening complications.

Common causes of kidney failure include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Kidney inflammation (glomerulonephritis)
  • Blood vessel inflammation (vasculitis)
  • Kidney cysts (polycystic kidney disease)

However, your kidneys may shut down suddenly (acute kidney injury) after a severe illness, complicated surgery, heart attack or other serious problem. Certain medications also can cause kidney injury.

Some people with severe long-standing (chronic) kidney failure may opt for a different path, choosing maximal medical therapy, also called maximum conservative management, instead of dialysis. This therapy involves active management of complications of advanced chronic kidney disease, such as fluid overload, high blood pressure and anemia, with a focus on supportive management of symptoms that affect quality of life.

Others may be candidates for a preemptive kidney transplant, instead of starting on dialysis. Ask your health care team for more information about your options. This is an individualized decision because benefits of dialysis may vary, depending on your particular health issues.

All About Kidney Disease

All About Kidney Disease

What the Kidneys Do

Most human beings have two functioning kidneys. They are bean-shaped and about the size of a fist. They’re situated in the center of your back, on the left and right of your spine, just below your rib cage.

The kidneys help control blood pressure and make hormones that your body must have to stay healthy. When the kidneys are damaged, wastes can build up in the body.

Kidney Function and Aging

Kidney function may be reduced with aging. As the kidneys age, the number of filtering units in the kidney may fall, the total amount of kidney tissue may fall, and the blood vessels that supply the kidney may harden, causing the kidneys to filter blood.

You might be more likely to have complications from specific medicines if your kidneys start to filter nicely as you age. There may be an unsafe buildup of medicines that are taken off your blood by your kidneys. Also, your kidneys may be more sensitive to particular medications. For example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and some antibiotics may damage your kidneys in some situations. The next time you pick up a prescription or buy an over-the-counter medicine or supplement, ask your pharmacist how your kidneys may be affected by the product and interact with your other medications.

Kidney Disease Occurs

Kidney disease means the kidneys are damaged and can no longer remove wastes and additional water from the blood as they should. Kidney disease is usually caused by diabetes or high blood pressure. Many are in danger. The main risk factors for developing kidney disease are:

  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure

Each kidney contains about one million tiny filtering units. These filters are called glomeruli. High blood pressure and diabetes damage these blood vessels, so the kidneys aren’t able to filter the blood as good as they used to. Normally this damage occurs slowly, over many years. This is called chronic kidney disease. As more and more filtering components are damaged, the kidneys eventually are unable to maintain well-being.

Early kidney disease generally has no symptoms, which means you will not feel distinct. Urine and blood tests are the only way to check for kidney damage or measure kidney function. You should be tested for kidney disease if you have a family history of kidney failure, high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes.

Kidney Failure

Kidney disease can may lead to kidney failure, and can get worse over time. Kidney failure means kidney damage that is quite advanced with less than 15% normal functionality. End stage renal disease (ESRD) is kidney failure treated by dialysis or kidney transplant.

Treatment options for example dialysis or a kidney transplant can help replace kidney function, if the kidneys fail. Some patients choose not to treat kidney failure with dialysis or a transplant. Talk with your physician about choosing a treatment that is best for you if your kidneys fail.