Talking About Dialysis
Being diagnosed with end stage renal disease (ESRD) can open up a floodgate of thoughts, feelings and emotions. As the “muddy waters” settle, you may begin to think about how you can live your life with ESRD. You may wonder how your dialysis treatments will affect your life—and the lives of people you love. You need their help, and you also want to remain as independent as possible. So how do you talk about dialysis? How do you ask for their help? How do you “work it out” together? And where do you begin?
Empower yourself and others
- Learn all you can about ESRD and the different dialysis treatment options. Speak with your doctor, read the special sections of this site and check out educational tools and resources.
- Compare your treatment options and understand the differences between them. Consider the physical, emotional and the practical aspects of the dialysis treatments you are considering. What happens during treatment? How long and how often will you be treated? How will you feel? How will it affect your ability to live your life? As a partner? A parent? A coworker?
- Learn all the ways you can help yourself. Today, it’s very possible to remain vital and independent while on dialysis. What can you do to help with your treatment? What adjustments do you need to make to your diet and lifestyle? How can you still thrive?
- Think of how others can help you. While you can still be independent, there may be times when you need to ask others for help and support. Will you need someone to help drive you to and from a treatment center? Will you need help with everyday chores? Think about what you are asking others to do. How will it affect their lives? What sacrifices will they need to make?
- Speak with a social worker for helpful suggestions about adjusting to life with ESRD. Ask about how you can speak with your loved ones and coworkers and engage their help. If you’re having problems with your feelings and emotions, speak to your social worker or another counselor who is trained to help people cope with the emotional impact of chronic medical conditions. If you are using Fresenius Kidney Care for your dialysis treatments, feel free to reach out to one of our clinical social workers.
- And finally, be prepared to listen. Really hear what your loved ones are saying and see what they are feeling. Listen to their thoughts, hopes, suggestions and concerns. After all, a conversation is a two-way street and everyone deserves to be heard and understood.
Telling your family
Your spouse, partner or significant other
Naturally, you’ll also want to discuss how your treatment will affect your sex life and ability to care for each other. It’s important to know that while dialysis may affect your sex life, it doesn’t put an end to it and you’ll want to learn about all the ways you can still be intimate.