Dialysis and Telling the Kids

telling others 1I recently got a very good question “How do I tell my kids I’m going on dialysis?”

It sparked some thoughts.  When I started dialysis it was “all of a sudden”.  I told most people after the fact.  It’s mostly because I was “in denial”. I wrote about this in another posting.

So, I talked to my sons and asked them what they thought about when I went into dialysis and to give me some suggestions of what someone should tell their kids.  My oldest brought up a good point immediately.  He said “It depends on the age.”  So, we’ll get to that but first this….

I never said anything specifically about dialysis to my sons  No one else knew about my pending dialysis other than my sister.  She was with me when the doctor told me, “It’s time.  If you wait any longer, it’ll be dangerous and could kill you.”  I pretty much took it in stride at that point.  Again, I look back and it was probably denial.  My biggest concern at the time was what I saw in the dialysis center when I was escorted through it the first time.   It looked like the “Land of the Living Dead”  and I wanted no part of that.  I wasn’t dead but I didn’t have much choice in the matter.

I’ve always taken things in stride.  My sister, on the other hand, cried out loud when the doctor made the announcement   She was a critical care nurse and had seen the worst of things human must endure.  I just looked on puzzlement and confusion.  The fact that she cried, scared me but I hid behind my screens and kept a “stiff upper lip”, as they say.

My son said his godfather (a doctor) talked with him about my dialysis.  He warned him that I might come home after dialysis with some “mood issues” and to not take them personally.  He warned I might come home angry or something.  In truth, I mostly come home too danged tired to be anything else but tired!  It was good advice anyway because he was warned about the after-effects of dialysis and to expect something other than my jovial self.

My son notes that dialysis doesn’t bother him a bit.   He’s not on dialysis, I am. Good point.  In the first few years I was working and driving myself to dialysis so he was barely touched by it.  I would go on dialysis by three or three-thirty and be home by eight o’clock or eight-thirty.   I would call him during and when I was done and on my way home.   As it was only three days a week, he barely noticed I was gone.  He took care of the house including the two dogs, a cat, and his younger brother so he had plenty of company.  As older teenagers, they probably enjoyed that I wasn’t there!

That I am a single parent makes a difference, my son pointed out.  If it’s a two parent household, it may make a difference in what you have to tell the kids.  “Good point”, I thought.  But I have no experience with that situation so I can’t make a suggestion. Does it make a difference?  I don’t know.  It may make a difference if your combined attendance is required at events like ball games, teacher conferences,  and such. The kids and others will have to understand you’re not able to attend for reasons over which you have no control. It also depends on which shift you’re on and how much you’re not available to the children.

The age of the children matters.  Younger children may be frightened more easily than older ones but dialysis is frightening to any age. (Remember my sister, who’s older than me, cried when she found out about my dialysis) .  The children’s age will also impact on what you tell them about the condition.  It may be hard for them to imagine what “kidney failure” means. They may need a quick anatomy lesson.  That may reassure them or not.  You know you’re kids better than me.  Nonetheless, whatever you tell them should be age-specific.  It’s like telling them about sex, I guess.

So that’s my answer to the question.

© 2013 DevonTexas


About DevonTexas

I am a person with ESRD (End Stage Renal Disease) which means my kidneys don't work. Forty or so years ago that would have been a death sentence but today there is Dialysis which means I could be hooked up to a machine that would clean my blood as the kidneys should. Three days a week, I went to a dialysis center and had too very large needles stuck in my arm to remove and replace my blood as it passed through a process where it was cleaned and the fluid was removed, a process taking a little over four hours each time. In November 2017, I received a kidney transplant from a deceased donor. My life went into overdrive. With a "new" functioning kidney, I no longer had to go to a dialysis center and my days were not open to be lived rather than recovering from dialysis which meant dialyzing for three days and resting for 4 days a week. I work full-time and often 50 hours per week. It is something I never imagined. I highly recommend it! HeeHee I want to advance knowledge about dialysis and transplant so that others can learn from my experience and mistakes. We shouldn't have to reinvent the wheel, eh? There is so much to be learned and experienced about our predicament. There are vast resources available to support us and enrich our lives but many patients don't know about them. There are also many issues that we have to deal with whether we want to or not. So I blog about them in www.DevonTexas.com All comments are confidential until I approve them. If you don't want your comment public, let me know and I will respect that. So, feel free to leave a comment. I also blog in LegacyTales in WordPress if you are interested in the ramblings of a Old Man. Give a peek and let me know what you think. https://legacytales.wordpress.com/ Enjoy.
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2 Responses to Dialysis and Telling the Kids

  1. What a great article! Sharing on Kidney Stories now!

  2. Sara says:

    Good responses. Your son seems to be a well grounded person. Thanks for this sharing.

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