ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Kidney disease and Dialysis - the psychosocial aspects of renal failure

Updated on February 22, 2011


Kidney disease or renal failure


Take a look into the world of an individual with kidney disease (renal failure) and dialysis, the life between the machines. It was three days before Christmas, two years ago, that I became acquainted with this monster. All festivities came to a crashing halt as we heard that a loved one, a young man of eighteen was in the clutches of the disease.

A simple description of Renal failure


Chronic kidney disease and acute renal failure cause the kidneys to lose their ability to filter and remove waste and excess fluid from the body. Hemodialysis or Kidney dialysis is a process that uses a man-made membrane (dialyzer) to do the work of the kidney. The patient is connected to dialyzer or the dialysis machine by tubes attached to their blood vessels. Blood is pumped from the patient’s body into the dialyzer, where toxic waste and excess fluid are filtered out from the blood. The filtered blood is then pumped back into the body giving the patient a little comfort for a few days until the next visit. This process may have to be repeated two to three times a week and takes about 3-4 hours each time.


Stress associated with Kidney disease


Now with the brief description of renal failure and dialysis treatment in place, let me take you into the mind of a person tied to the dialysis machine for life. I met this young man whom I offered to take under my roof and provide care for a month. I met a young ghost to say the least. He was six foot three, a hunk of a man, who in a span of six months looked much shorter, shriveled up and much older than his eighteen years.

This is not the story of one person, over the years I met a few other young people with the same disease. I noticed that the marked change in their physical appearance caused them much anxiety. These changes in appearance brought along with it a certain amount of disturbance in identity and insecurity associated with it.

The problem of identity is compounded by their perception of the disease. Renal failure or Kidney disease is a terminal illness with no cure insight. Their acceptance of the disease and the ability to cope with life after the disease is what determines the quality of their life. The family member’s sympathetic perception of the disease (and their sympathy vs. empathy) quietly erodes their sense of independence. Sometimes the family members with the good intention of helping the individual make them invalids for life. These individuals start to look at themselves as dialysis patients rather than as a young man, a father, a student etc. They are prone to become dependant on their families to perform even their daily chores. Sometimes an individual may be in complete denial of the condition which is also risky.

Kidney failure - Social problems of Individuals 


Boredom Three days at treatment and almost half a day during each visit to the hospital/ dialysis center ensure that the person’s life is locked between the machine and the house. Imagine watching your blood whirl in a tube in front of you three days a week- sounds like a terrible nightmare. Boredom at the dialysis center, just having to lie down and be able to do nothing is enough to frustrate anyone. Depression is the shadow lurking very close.

Physical discomfort such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, muscle cramps,itching, swelling of the body especially the legs and sleep disturbances all take a toll on the individual’s personal, social and work life. Stress is very real and they are unable to do much about it.

Socializing goes out of the window with all the diet restriction. The sympathy, their presence at social gatherings bring may sometimes result in avoidance of all social contacts. Restriction on time due to treatment schedules is another culprit. Sports and other activities take a back seat as fatigue sets in. The fear of hurting self or dislodging the stent is real. Outdoor games may slowly fade from the list of activities.

Mental health aspect  - Renal failure


Emotional pain is a every day reality. Fear is another constant companion. Fear of the unknown, anxiety about what next… Education stopped midway, jobs have to be resigned to give place to treatment. Hours of boredom facing them, morbid thoughts racing through their minds, all that they lived for, all ambitions seem lost. Fear of death is something that hangs around the corner as they see and hear news of the death of their new friends at the hospital. Hopelessness steps in, as treatment is only maintenance, with no chance of cure in sight. Waiting for a donor or a cadaver transplant and the fear of the body not accepting the new organ is also heart grinding.

Financial burden increases as treatment is expensive. The family’s economic resources are strained to the maximum extent possible. It may cause a lot of stress not only for the individual but also on the family. If the individual is single, with no family support, the individual has to endure a high level of stress.


Kidney failure - Help  improve quality of life 


One needs to be empathetic and not sympathetic.

Being supportive and encouraging them to do as much as they can, realistically, would be beneficial for the person.

Motivating these individuals to socialize with other healthy individuals with an active life style is important.

Helping them to control thought life and take charge of their life would be a great help.

Enabling them to follow their passion (that does not need much exertion) that will help them earn, as well as keep their minds actively and creatively involved, is a great stress buster.

Care to educate them to strictly follow diet restriction and making their diet visually and tastefully enjoyable will benefit their physical well being.

Engaging them in some light physical activity is also beneficial.

Spiritual well being is a part of heath as defined by the WHO, so being actively involved in spiritual activities will be another plus. Studies prove that faith and religious beliefs enable individuals cope better.

Financial help is always welcome for such an individual.

Helping others individuals with similar problems and focusing on unfortunate others is a sure fire way of keeping the mind actively away from morbid thoughts; it may help regain one’s sense of self worth.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR

      sofs 

      6 years ago

      MP50, Thank you so much for visiting this hub. Your endorsement means a lot to me. Have a lovely day. God Bless!

    • profile image

      MP50 

      6 years ago

      I can relate to this Hub, thanks for sharing well written and accurate information.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR

      sofs 

      7 years ago

      Thanks Diana ..I will visit your site. God bless!

    • profile image

      Diana Park 

      7 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this it has a very informative content.. I hope more of this comes..

      If you have time you can visit this site:

      Kidney Dialysis

      God bless and more power..

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR

      sofs 

      7 years ago

      Ariel, thank you for the visiting the page, and for your insightful comment. Yes, socializing is a huge problem indeed, the very fact that one is uncomfortable with self and that people are not sure what to say, may makes things worse, apart from all that has been discussed.

      Your concern for your friend shows, my best wishes to your friend.

    • profile image

      Ariel 

      7 years ago

      Socializing is a big problem for dialysis patients, I had a friend who had a kidney disease and had to go for dialysis, it was bad.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR

      sofs 

      8 years ago

      I can understand how you feel, I wish too that the medical world got their finger on to something..I am real glad to see you back, hope you are felling better... Be positive.. never give up...

      Thank you, please do keep in touch, God bless!

    • days leaper profile image

      days leaper 

      8 years ago from england

      What if there was a cure? We just haven't found it? As you say it is expensive, so are the medics motivated to find one? If there is a common ground -a would be causal factor -every-one in there that I've ever met 'likes a drink' ..or ten!- As renal is linked to not passing water, and the drinking that these people like cannot really be called "water", maybe it's something in the water. Having said that I've weaned myself off the stuff and I'm no better, my illness is still progressing! So who knows?

      Sorry to hear about your cousin. And Thanks. You're a real sweatheart.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR

      sofs 

      8 years ago

      Lita, often we need reminders to live better. Though we know the hard facts of life, reminders shake us up a little bit from our complacency. Lita I hope that you will really take care, we have just one life and we need to live it well. Best wishes and God bless!

    • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 

      8 years ago from Philippines

      My elder brother was on dialysis 3X a week. In less than a year, he shows signs of disorientation, and heaviness of chest cavity. He succumbed to heart failure last February, 2010. I'm an insulin-dependent diabetic like he was. I'm taking all precautions so I won't go that level of renal failure. Thanks for reminding me, that I need to be more careful. Dialysis is expensive and yet it doesn't guarantee a cure.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR

      sofs 

      8 years ago

      Days leaper, I know what you are talking about, those fears are so real and dark that most people don't even want to talk about them anymore. I am happy to be an inspiration, I am sure your hub on coping will provide a clear account of what goes on in the mind of a person under going dialysis. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. My best wishes to you. God bless!!!

    • days leaper profile image

      days leaper 

      8 years ago from england

      Very accurate account, it brings it all back! -those early days. Having done some blogs on and around this subject already. I intend to maybe do another on coping with dialysis: A thought you inspired, Thanks!

      eg. ..though TV's are often presented -analogue. So invest in something like a DS or other hand held device. I'm quite thoughtful, and like writing and took a notepad and pens, but found some of even the staff to be quite nosey, or thinking I was writing about them -in one unit. ...

      Thanks again.

    • Jewels profile image

      Jewels 

      8 years ago from Australia

      Yes, I was aware when making this comment that some people get a bum draw with their kidneys and it has nothing to do with food or lifestyle. Unfortunately so many people take what they have for granted. Take care sofs.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR

      sofs 

      8 years ago

      Wow!What a wise decision. You are a Jewel indeed, I really wish we would honor this life we have with all our being. It pays to change our lifestyle and care of our health, better safe than sorry! Though kidney disease may sometime have no relation to lifestyle at all.

      Thank you for taking the time to write this. God bless!

    • Jewels profile image

      Jewels 

      8 years ago from Australia

      All hale empathy over sympathy. To be honest I can't imagine what a life tied to a machine would be like. I know that through reading peoples experiences, I value my liver and kidneys and heart and brain much more than before. I've taken steps recently to delete processed foods from my diet in order to honor my body more. At least it's being conscious of something precious - quality of life.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)