Medical Challenges

I am wracking my brain, to come up with a different way to refer to Kidney Failure.  With many thanks to Sister S., I am doing my utmost to eliminate words like disease and failure from my vocabulary altogether.  I am not going for a Pollyanna attitude — “If I ignore it, it doesn’t exist!”  Rather, I am building more positive, emotionally uplifting, or at least emotionally neutral language into my lexicon.  The word failure is not an option,

From Houston Control, during the Apollo 13 mission
“Failure is not an option” — Gene Kranz
Image courtesy:

to misquote Gene Kranz, NASA Flight Director for Apollo 13.

I made a decision a while ago to change the way I express myself as regards my many medical challenges and opportunities, and this effort is part of that transformation.

When I was diagnosed with Diabetes Type I, at the age of fourteen, I knew of one person who was undergoing dialysis, and it seemed like a fast lane trip to the end of life.  Over all these decades, I continued to feel this way, until 2006, when my niece got married.  A school friend, whom I hadn’t seen in ages, was a guest there, and I learned that he had been on dialysis for years, not due to diabetes, but some other condition that affected his kidneys.

He told me of the process of dialysis he could perform on his own, and obviously, as he was 3,000 miles from home, he could also perform dialysis while traveling.  All of this was new information for me — at the time I still carried the image of that dialysis patient from 1974, who was really just marking time until death.  As my old friend and I danced at the reception, I got a new feeling of hope that, if I came to dialysis, it might not mean the end of any kind of meaningful life.  I am so grateful for that new picture in my head!

I saw my nephrologist on Wednesday, and as I’d feared, the extra diuretic I was directed to take for my swollen legs only succeeded in moving my kidneys a few steps closer to that stage 5 dialysis condition.  We don’t know for sure that I will stay where I am now; I may have some improvement, now that we have lowered the diuretic dose.  Nevertheless, the nephrologist has scheduled me for dialysis education, so that I won’t be caught off guard if or when I get to that point.  Smart, I believe, but also a little frightening.

Still, I can face it with more hope now than I ever thought I’d have; also, I recently set a goal for myself of living at peace with my diabetes, which includes diet, keeping records, getting enough sleep and exercise, and strengthening my spiritual grounding with a rejuvenated daily ritual.  All of these steps will assist me in maintaining my overall health, even in the face of lessened kidney function.

I guess the new term will come to me — for now, as I concentrate on getting the basics of my diabetes into some form of control, I know I am getting closer to optimizing my chances for no dialysis, or for as healthy a run of dialysis as is possible.  And I’m still alive — not ready to give up in the least.  And that counts for something, I know.


12 responses to “Medical Challenges

  1. My family is prone to diabetes, it’s in our genes. That’s why when my mom was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, she became more health conscious. Diabetes is a disease where it is prone to complications that’s why proper medical attention is needed. Proper care and monitoring of blood sugar level is a must. Right now, I am starting to be aware of my blood sugar level.

    • Good for you for getting proactive early. I was 14 when my doc told me I wouldn’t live long, and told my parents not to help me handle diabetes — so I wasted nearly half a century on high blood sugars, complications, and some absolute luck that I’m still alive. I am turning all that around, now. Thanks so much for commenting, and best of luck to your Mom and you! 😎

  2. “ESRD” doesn’t sound much prettier, does it? Yeah, you can’t ignore it—it won’t go away—but you don’t want to talk about it as if “you” are the diagnosis.

    I’ve found you to be a very precise and disciplined person, so I’m betting you CAN do all the documenting/record-keeping/exercising that’s now necessary—as long as you have the energy to do so. That means you’ve got to put #1 first—YOU being #1.

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