Some patients can choose to ‘sit back’ and let the medical professionals look after them whilst others choose to take a proactive part in managing their own treatment – which many doctors will agree, often leads to better outcomes.
Here are some things to think about as a dialysis patient or a carer:
A positive attitude – All renal patients will tell you there is no “normal” route through Chronic Kidney Disease and renal failure. There will be many twists and turns. At times things might feel over whelming. Maintaining a positive outlook is vital to help yourself get through the challenges ahead. Talk to you family & friends. By some estimations, 25% of patients with renal failure suffer from depression. Talk to renal counsellor.
Educate yourself – learn about your kidneys and your specific kidney disease. Talk to your doctor or consultant. If you can take a partner, relation or friend with you on you visit to clinic. Write down any questions you have before you clinic visit so you don’t forgot to ask them at clinic. Take advantage of the information on-line for example on the National Kidney Federation website or ring they helpline 0800 169 09 36 education sessions available through the Advanced Kidney Care Clinic. These include sessions on dialysis and transplantation.
Diet – eat the right things. Keep to your low potassium diet or other as recommended by the clinics dietician. Arrange to speak to a dietitian or ask for the leaflets about diets at your next clinic visit.
Blood pressure – measure your blood pressure at home. Machines are compact and affordable. Ask your clinic team for recommendations. Weight loss will help with reducing your blood pressure as well as reducing your intake of salt.
Weight and fluid management – Being overweight can lead to significant complications for renal patients, placing a greater strain on their hearts and other organs. Transplant surgery is further complicated and conditions such as diabetes are more likely. In addition however many renal patients actually lose weight during their treatment. Loss of appetite, the effects of haemodialysis and a stricter diet mean that they find themselves losing kilos. Tracking this weight-loss is equally important. Fluid gain can take place if the patients’ dry weight is not adjusted in line with weight (fat) loss. The first signs might be swollen ankles followed ultimately by breathing difficulty with fluid on the lungs.