I'm a woman in her mid-30s who was diagnosed with SLE in 1997. In 2004, I started HD. I've now been a HD patient for more than 5 years! Whew! how time flies!
Now, how was it discovered I had SLE? Allow me to explain. I had just graduated at that time, I applied for a job in a big company and there was a compulsory health screening. During the urine test, it was discovered that my urine had traces of kidney failure. Because the clinic would not proceed without payment, I shifted my investigation to a government hospital. And I was fortunate that I was diagnosed early without the usual running around departments in the hospital that some SLE patients face because SLE is known as the disease with many faces that is, its' symptoms are similar to many other conditions, so it's very difficult to pinpoint accurately.
Then came my next challenge : delaying dialysis for as long as possible. I was immediately advised to adopt the renal diet, which isn't as fun as the normal person's balanced diet. Which meant I had to watch my sodium, potassium & phosphate levels. I had to eat less salt, certain vegetables and fruits (potassium) and also less beans, nuts, soy products, dairy products and even mushrooms (phosphate). I was also advised to drink less fluids. I struggled with the diet for 7 years but, even though I tried my best to be obedient to the renal diet, eventually my kidneys failed and I had to start HD (hemodialysis).
It has now been slightly more than 5 years, and the dialysis center I go to has become like a second home, all the nurses and staff there have become my close friends.
Before I started HD, people used to tell me that HD was 4 hours of suffering, but it isn't! There's the initial pain of the prick of 2 needles but after that, you don't feel a thing. Then there's also the initial stage of successfully creating a fistula or graft for the HD access. It involves waiting and certain complications but once that hurdle is over, HD can become a part of your weekly routine.
What I'm trying to say is, being a dialysis patient is not so bad once you've stopped complaining and accepted it. I thank God that he has opened my eyes and heart to realize how fortunate and blessed I am despite all this.
So, if you have been diagnosed with a major chronic illness, don't fret, it's just another doorway to another life, which may not be so bad after all. We are all sojourners in this world, our REAL life begins after we die. Yes, I am a Christian, and I believe our real home is in Heaven.......
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