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Living with Dialysis

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Learning to live with renal failure

For most patients, the biggest difference to life before is the amount of time they have to plan in every week for dialysis sessions. Added to that are visits to the doctor and follow-up appointments. Thanks to modern medicine and dialysis methods, it is now easier to largely maintain personal freedom in the context of organizing everyday life.    
Integrating everything into the daily routine merely requires a little more time management and flexibility. During the initial period, the best thing to do is to develop a weekly schedule in which you enter the new appointments necessary from a medical perspective as well as anything else of importance to your profession, your hobbies, and your private life. By doing that you will accomplish whatever is important to you. After some time the new routine will become second nature to you – just as if it had always been that way.

Your general health will benefit from regular exercise. Many people with chronic kidney disease say exercise was the key to helping them feel "normal" again after they started dialysis treatments. Before beginning any
exercise program, please consult your doctor or approval and so that he can determine the "right" kind of exercise for you. The exercise program should meet your special needs and interests. Learn how exercise can help you feel better physically and be more in control of your emotions.

Kidney failure in itself does not affect your ability to drive. If you have heart disease, eye trouble or do not feel well after the treatment, please ask your physician for advice.

While we are all familiar with the health risks smoking has on the lungs and heart, studies have shown that smoking also aggravates kidney disease. Smoking is a burden on your blood vessels and heart. On dialysis, you should quit smoking. Whether you are in the early stages of kidney disease or are on dialysis, your physician will discuss with you the different ways to help you stop smoking.

Many patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are in full-time or part-time jobs. With your doctor’s permission and an open discussion with your employer about all relating issues, you will be able to continue your work. Your doctor will try to schedule your treatment conveniently; please discuss details with the medical staff.

Sexuality does not only mean the act of sexual intercourse, it also includes feelings, communication and how willing you are to build a relationship. Physical and emotional changes caused by your disease may affect your sexuality. Kidney disease can cause physical and emotional changes that may lower your sexual interest and/or sexual ability. People with end stage renal disease may feel tired after their haemodialysis treatment. Ongoing fatigue should be discussed with your doctor and renal dietitian. Men with renal disease may experience changes in their hormone levels that affect their sexual interest. Please discuss this issue with your doctor so that he can get the right help for you.

Everybody needs a break from time to time, and kidney patients are no exception. However, traveling for kidney patients on dialysis does require more planning, so last minute bookings are not a realistic option. Please ask the medical staff to assist you with the planning process and to help make sure you have a nice holiday. Your physician will help you arrange holiday dialysis treatments in different countries. For patients on PD treatment, traveling is much easier. Inform your physician where you want to go; he will arrange for your dialysis supplies to be delivered to your preferred holiday destination.

Adapting to dialysis can be difficult at times; it is also normal that you will have fears about living with chronic kidney failures.

Many patients feel tired after a dialysis session. Take it easy. You will feel energetic again on the following day.

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