I Have Chronic Kidney Disease: Where To Go From Here

When you’re diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD), it’s only natural to have questions. One of the best steps you can take is to learn as much as you can about CKD, your kidneys and living with a chronic condition. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to participate in your treatment and make the choices that are right for you.

Remember, you are the person who can have the biggest impact on your health. Put yourself first, commit to your health goals and work with your doctor to plan CKD treatment around your life—not the other way around.


"I'm a person who believes you've got to ask questions. You've got to know what's going on in your body."

On dialysis since March 2013

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Coping with CKD

Coping with chronic kidney disease diagnosis

What CKD diagnosis can mean

Getting diagnosed with CKD means getting comfortable with the changes it brings—and this may be a process that takes time. Breaking down a big change into smaller steps can make understanding what your diagnosis means for your life more manageable.

Need a starting point? Make a list of questions to ask your doctor and then make a to-do list of actions to take. As you get more informed and mark things off your list, you’ll be able to see the progress you’re making.

Learn more about what to expect

Managing your emotions

It’s important to recognize your feelings about CKD and find ways to work through them. Your journey of living with chronic kidney disease can begin with a range of emotions—grief, fear, denial, anger, depression and feeling overwhelmed—which are all perfectly normal reactions. One way to manage your feelings is to take back some control of your situation. Empower yourself through education, goal setting and getting support.
Find ways to cope with CKD

Getting support

A key component to thriving with CKD is getting encouragement along the way. Reach out to family and friends and tell them what you’re experiencing—they’ll be an important part of your support network! Talk about how you’re feeling and keep your support network updated on any changes in your treatment, diet or medications. The more you share and communicate, the more your family and friends will be able to help you through any rough patches—and celebrate when you’re feeling good.

Get tips for building a support network

"They take good care of me. It's just like my family."

—Ron, on dialysis since March 2015

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Staying healthy

Staying healthy on dialysis.

Prioritizing your well-being

In addition to following the Care Plan created by your doctor, it’s equally important to look after your emotional health. Free yourself from excess stress where you can and reach out for help and support when you need it. Remember, you aren’t alone! Your treatment team, family and friends all share the same goal of helping you thrive with CKD.

Eating well for kidney health

Eating a kidney-friendly diet will help your body stay its healthiest—without adding additional stress on your kidneys. In fact, what you eat now can have a direct impact on your current and future kidney health. Your doctor will refer you to a dietitian, who is an expert at kidney meal planning and will help you identify low-salt, low-protein foods to incorporate. Don’t worry about having a bland diet—there are many ways to keep meals interesting with recipes your whole family will enjoy.


Leading an active life

One of the best things you can do for your physical and emotional health is to stay active and engaged in things you love—throughout every stage of CKD. If you have a job you love, stay with it. You can absolutely continue working, even during treatment for end stage renal disease (ESRD). In fact, there are laws in place that may protect the rights of people living with CKD or other conditions in the workplace.
See the benefits of staying active and employed

Making a plan

Planning for ESRD treatment.

Understanding treatment options

Because CKD is a progressive disease, thinking about future treatments now will give you more time to plan for what’s right for you. There are many options for treating stage 5 chronic kidney disease , also known as ESRD. Talk to your nephrologist (kidney doctor) about treatment choices and consider which option best fits your lifestyle. You’ll be more likely to embrace your treatment if it’s in sync with what’s most important to you. If you don’t have a nephrologist yet, ask your primary care doctor for a referral.

Learn about treatment options

Handling treatment costs

As you consider treatments for stage 5 CKD, you’ll probably also start to think about associated costs. Now is a great time to research and plan ahead for how your treatments will be covered. If you’ve got health insurance coverage, don’t make any changes without reviewing all your options. Having a diagnosis of kidney failure down the line may make it difficult to get a new plan. There are also several options for financial assistance with treatment.
Get more information on dialysis coverage

Tackling end-of-life planning

It may be challenging to think about preparing advance directives, such as power of attorney for healthcare, healthcare proxy or living will, but these are important steps to take in order to protect yourself and your loved ones. Many people being treated for CKD live long, vibrant lives—but legal decisions about end of life will still need to be made eventually, so give yourself time to think about your wishes, discuss them with your family and get legal consultation if necessary.
Learn terms to know and steps to take


Learn how to live your fullest with our class, KidneyCare:365. Discover tips to help maintain kidney health and be more in charge of your choices.
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