Almost all patients with kidney disease dread the time when they need to start regular dialysis. It is understandable that this phase of life is met with much uncertainty and even some will get depression just from the thought of starting dialysis. 

Dialysis is life-saving, but it's also life-changing. Still, by taking charge of your emotional health — and accepting help when you need it — you can live a rewarding life on dialysis. 

Will my activities be restricted? 

If you are on hemodialysis, the times that you have to come for dialysis will restrict activities on certain days as your dialysis schedule is 3 times a week. However the dialysis unit will, in most circumstances, try their best to accommodate your preferred time. 

If you are on Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD), you will be able to dialyze in almost any situation, as long as you follow strict hygiene conditions as you were taught. 

You will need to adjust your regular diet 

Your kidneys are not able to get rid of enough waste products and fluids from your blood and your body now has special needs, you will need to limit fluids and change your intake of certain foods in your diet. You will also need to watch the fluid content in the food you take. 

Dialysis will help you to relieve some of the symptoms you feel but it cannot replace completely the function of your own kidneys. That is why you still need to follow dietary restrictions while on dialysis. There will be a renal diet you need to follow strictly. 

Specific dietary restrictions for dialysis differ from person to person. However, there are some general guidelines all patients should follow . The doctors, dietician or renal nurse will advise you on the type of diet you need to follow. 

Can I continue working? 

Yes, you can. The face of dialysis is changing. As people begin dialysis earlier in life, an increasing number of young adults and working age adults successfully maintain stable work histories.   

 In the past, misconceptions may have led people on dialysis to believe they are less employable or unable to work at all. In fact, working is strongly encouraged by healthcare professionals because of its many benefits – decreased depression, improved confidence, greater sense of control and independence, improved relationships, and generally a better quality of life. 

Can I travel? 

Yes you can. If you are on hemodialysis, you can still travel outstation or overseas. In this situation, you need to make special arrangements with the place you are visiting in order to continue your dialysis treatment. 

Can I have a baby? 

Yes. There have been reports of successful pregnancies for patients on dialysis. However, please do discuss with your doctor if you do intend to get pregnant. 

Can you exercise when you're on dialysis? 

​​​​​​​​​​Yes, Exercise is important for people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) because when your kidney function has decreased, it can affect your muscles and your bones. 

Always start each exercise session slowly for at least 5 minutes before increasing your pace. Starting at a slower pace gets the heart and lungs ready for your exercise session. Also, always slow down for a few minutes before you stop your exercise session. This will prevent you from being lightheaded or dizzy after exercising. 

You should always progress your exercise slowly. Start with 5 to 10 minutes of activity and adding 1 to 2 minutes to your time every exercise session. Do this until you are working out for the time you wish. 

Always talk to your doctor before performing any heavy exercise.  

Tips for everyday life 

You might not be able to change a diagnosis, but you can change the way you deal with it. It can be very helpful to talk about how you are feeling, your fears, life changes, stress, and other emotional reactions.  

Loss of renal function and the dependence on dialysis, lead to life changes. Your healthcare team has an important role to play in helping you adjust to life on dialysis. 
The aim of your treatment is for you to be able to live an as normal life as possible. Many patients see dialysis as a necessary inconvenience. They dialysis to live, they don't live to dialyse! 
Nevertheless, it can often be hard for you to accept that you are having difficulties coping with the life changes you are experiencing. It can also often be difficult to discuss your feelings with your healthcare team. 
If you feel you are having problems coping with a life on dialysis, try not to keep things to yourself. Speak to a member of the healthcare team at the dialysis centre; ask to see someone you feel at ease with. Our Staff have many years´ experience, and there are few situations they have not seen before. Often, things become easier to understand with a little bit of information, or with small changes to your treatment, and that will help you begin to see things from a better perspective. 
Do not be afraid to share your concerns, we will do our best to help. A problem shared is a problem halved! 

Written by: Noruliza Mohamad

Reference: Global with CKD,

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