Dialysis and Depression (continued)

Update: 10/13/13:  Wow! It’s a year later.  How things have changed!  I don’t really have time to be depressed.  My suggestion is working very well on myself.  I got involved in advocating for dialysis patients and dog rescue.  With all that, I’m busy and productive… oh and I have this blog.

Anywhoo… as my Dad used to say… I came across this article about a study of depression in dialysis patients and chair-side therapy.  It’s very interesting: CLICK HERE to read it.

Updated: 10/11/12: Found a posting by a counselor who may not agree with my suggestions and has some of his own.  I encourage you, if you’re depressed, to check out his posting:Depression, How to feel like a loser”

I just read a posting in a discussion forum at http://www.IHateDialysis.com where the writer said:

“I had dialysis yesterday, and it seemed endless. It has been hurting, stinging, throbbing, infliltrating, fistulagrams, balloons, rogue veins, narrow arteries, and it’s been just over 4 months. I went to bed crying and I woke up crying. I am as alone as I can ever remember.”

She went on at length about the details which didn’t get any better. Later in the post, she wrote:

“But, it doesn’t seem like enough. All I do is go to dialysis, spend time alone, try to cook and clean for myself, with no appetite and no energy. I have tried to hire help and food services, but I have to watch things as I am not wealthy. I am handling everything from the bills to finding help myself, and it is not easy to say the least. When I am not at dialysis, I am spending my days off on the phone with doctors or on here or something like that, documenting the latest damage, so I never get a break. There is no joy to offset this experience.”

It reminded me of how we need to look to the part of our lives that is NOT dialysis and to make that our “life” rather than the time we spend in dialysis.  Dialysis sucks!  But, for that 12-15 hours a week, we get 150 or so hours to live our lives so it’s only 1/10 of the time we have in a week.

I know what it’s like to lack the energy to go out and meet other people, to get up on Sunday morning to go to church, or to go to a local event or exhibit, or even go to the mall to “hang out”.  I’m fortunate that I have a friend who comes by every couple weeks and we go out to lunch and spend a couple hours together.  I have that to look forward to and it’s time that I can not think about dialysis or my next doctor’s appointment.  We just share some moments of mutual, human comfort.

But life on dialysis can build up to the point that it’s all we can think about and the writer I mentioned is buried under that ton of bricks.  If I could give her my best advice, it would be two things:  1) don’t look at your time on dialysis as “life”.  Look at it as “life giving”and 2) look for activities your can do in the real life between dialysis sessions.  I would suggest getting into twitter, or discussion boards, or any interactive activities like that, volunteering to make phone calls to house-bound people, etc.  Look to what you CAN do rather than what you CAN’T do.

If the house chores build up because you don’t have energy to do them, do what you can. Break the task into smaller portions and complete each as you can, resting in between each part.  Eventually you’ll get the whole thing done but, as you complete a portion, you’ll feel better and know you’re getting something accomplished with the little energy you have.  For example, don’t try to vacuum the whole house.  Do one room or portion of a room, rest a bit, then another portion.

For interaction, if you have a church you go to, contact the minister and ask that someone come visit on a regular basis. Many churches have volunteers who will come and spend time with you.  Looking forward to the visit is almost as good as the time you’ll spend with the visitor and it gives you something to focus on other than dialysis.  Some communities have non-religious volunteers who visit house-bound people, too.  Contact your local Meals-on-Wheels, Senior Center or Council on Aging to see if they have programs for home-bound people.

We have to pull ourselves out of the whirlpool of dialysis so it doesn’t continue to suck us under.  It’s a dilemma though because it’s so easy to get sucked in and, with little energy and drive, it’s hard to get out.

That’s why I started this blog.  It gives me a reason to keep moving forward and something to focus on between dialysis sessions.  It solidly fills my day as I read, research, collect information, and write. I went from dreading Monday, Wednesday and Friday “dialysis days” to eagerly looking forward to Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday  “blogging days” when I would be working on my blog. Now I find myself worrying over what my next blog will be about!  I also work on my Twitter account and, recently, on my Facebook page, to keep advancing the needs of other dialysis patients and to, frankly, keep myself busy and productive.  In between, I play some games on the AARP.org games website.

So, if you’re being dragged down by dialysis, look beyond it to the life you have that is NOT dialysis. Or, as this blogger does, relieve the boredom with comedy. Also, here’s another site that may offer some ideas.

And if you’d like to read more about “Dialysis and Depression” on the RenalBusiness.com blogsite or a second part of that same subject, “Dialysis and Depression Part 2

DevonTexas © 2012

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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 can be hooked up to a machine that will clean my blood as the kidneys should. Three days a week, I go to a center and have too very large needles stuck in my arm to remove and replace my blood as it passes through a process where it's cleaned and the fluid is removed, a process taking a little over four hours each time. I want to advance knowledge about dialysis so that other patients 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. 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. Enjoy.
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11 Responses to Dialysis and Depression (continued)

  1. pena47 says:

    Great reading I enjoyed it very much.You give some good ideas for those that need it Thanks
    pena47

  2. Sara Schwake says:

    Thank you for being so specific with your suggestions of living life with dialysis.

    • DevonTexas says:

      And thank you for commenting. I figured specificity was needed in this case because sometimes we all need a push to get us started. The downward pull of depression is pretty powerful and when you’re also suffering from lack of energy, it’s all more difficult. But, I’m confident we’ll all get through this if we help each other.

  3. Devon, this was indeed a very inspiring post and should show up in other places for other dialysis patients to see that there is a positive way to look at this life-giving process we receive three days a week, if in-center. Sometimes, it is hard for me to understand that this process, that God never intended and so much is still unknown about it even though there are those who have been on dialysis in access of 30 years.

    In my humble opinion, ATTITUDE is primary about everything in life. That is the way I have approached dialysis from the first day, even though I was shocked when I walked into the center for the first time. But I had been having dialysis in the hospital for 12 straight days, unable to walk or put sentences together. My attitude comes from my faith and I realize that this is not true of a lot of people. They feel that they are being punished for something in their past or just punished by acquiring kidney disease. That is why I am so thankful my parents raised me in a home of faith and hope. For if we don’t have hope, we have nothing.

    In reading different sites as you do, I am crushed by the feelings of the hopeless, bitter people who just cannot come to terms with their condition. There are so many other people with other chronic conditions who suffer much more than we do and we don’t have to look far to find them anywhere.

    I agree that we all should seek out other positive people that encourage us and inspire us to live the best possible life we can. No one is promised another minute on this earth, so we are not unique in that sense. A church is my first idea, simply because I get so much from my little church. They pray for me, my family prays and supports me and that lifts my spirits on a higher plane and into a light that shines brightly in my heart.

    I am grateful for my time in the “chair” because, I know the treatment is keeping me alive, though weak and tired, but I still do most of the things I have always enjoyed (at a much slower pace). I have found that what I cannot do in the way of housekeeping will be there tomorrow or next week. It’s no fun to not be able to finish cleaning, and I am unable to cook anymore, except popping into the microwave. I do have a wonderful caretaker and understand that many do not, and my prayers go up for them every day.

    I honestly wish I could physically help everyone who is is that woman’s shoes, that you talked about on Facebook. But I can pray for her and will.

    But, back to your post: Keep coming out with these types of articles. You are doing an outstanding job.

    • DevonTexas says:

      Thank you, Harriet, for your kind thoughts. It’s encouraging to know I’m touching other people’s lives with my words. It makes all the hard work worthwhile.

    • Rita Pena says:

      Your articles are so educational and very comforting .I enjoy all the ones I’ve read since signing up to follow DevonTexas I believe he writes a good blog pena47 Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2012 15:36:15 +0000 To: pena47@hotmail.com

  4. Clara says:

    This was great! My husband is on dialysis tue, thur, sat. We try to focus on his ‘off’ days. Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes days are easy. Everyday is still different, even after being on dialysis for almost a yr. But we look back at the beginning to now and there IS a huge diff! His ‘off’ days are more filled with laughter then tears now. Thank you for all that you write!

  5. Kathlynn Cramer says:

    I agree with you about staying positive and focusing on other things instead the of dialysis sessions and problems that may accrue. Besides reading all I can about the process, I interact with others who are going through the same thing as I am. I am a very positive person and put a lot of faith in God. I have a women’s church small group which meets twice a month.
    I decided that to keep busy and productive is very important. I put short goals and reach them. This year, as I waited for my numbers to drop enough to have to start dialysis, I had three grandbabies due within six months. I started crocheting, knitting, and cross stitching baby things.
    Then once a week I have been watching one of the babies and twice a week the other granddaughter is here with my son. I look forward to these visit. I never know for sure when I have the one granddaughter. The days the two granddaughters are here are my favorites days. Just watching them grow each week. My husband is here (semi retired) to help me do the lifting.
    I am knitting baby sweaters, scarves and crocheting Christmas gifts. When I am tired with one project, I go to another.
    I like to read as well and in the two weeks I have been on dialysis, I have gone down to the camp ground and enjoyed the quiet of nature. Even closing up was easy by just doing little jobs, sitting, or napping then going back to doing another cleaning task. Focusing on others or things I enjoy has been good.
    During dialysis, I watch old reruns I like or the news. I spend some time praying for others and thanking God that I made it through another beginning of a session. I spends some time praying nothing goes wrong. Since I can’t hold the book or turn a page without the needles moving in my deep fistula, I am thinking of getting a Kindle. I am doing a lot of wondering if I will like reading that way. It would mean learning something new again which would be good.
    So, depression has not been a problem with me. My husband who is a counselor says that my outlook and practice of goal setting, belief system, and helping others is what keeps me positive.
    Kathlynn

    • DevonTexas says:

      Great ideas! Thank you so much for sharing that.
      About the kindle, I can suggest a 7 inch device over the 10 inch ones as the assitional weight is not as easy to hold with one hand. The Kindle and most other devices allow you to enlarge the text to make reading easier. Give them a try where you can demonstrate them. I got my Samsung 10 inch at Best Buy. I’m very pleased with the device and the service. But, if I had it to do over, I’d get the smaller 7 inch.

  6. David Reaves says:

    Facing the inevitable depression is difficult. Like you, I’ve found the best way to beat it is by having something to do. Nothing is more depressing than sitting around watching TV for a couple of days, accomplishing nothing. When the weather allows, I garden. Growing vegetables gives me a specific task, schedules, and visible results. I have to use energy-conserving tools (no brute-force available anymore) and plan work with an eye to the temperatures and sun. Nothing beats the feelings of accomplishment when picking fresh produce to give to friends and family. I also do small wood-working projects and have made home-made sausage, applesauce, jellies, jams, tomato sauce and pickles. It’s remarkable how much you can accomplish in a couple of hours a day. As long as I don’t try to do too much at once, I find that small accomplishments do a huge part in keeping depression at bay.

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