Quality of Life
You can thrive and enjoy life even though you have kidney disease. Look at the ways you can help determine how you view your life going forward. Determine if employment works for you as well as the benefits of staying active, your mental health, and staying socially connected with others.
Just because you’ve been told your kidneys have failed does not mean it is the end of your life. However, it is the end of your kidney function. It does mean you will go through a number of emotions as you learn to cope with having a chronic illness. It does mean your life will change in some ways. At the very least, you will be seeing a nephrologist on a regular basis, obtaining treatment for ESRD, modifying your diet, and taking medication daily. You also may experience some depression, learn to cope with changing roles between you and your spouse/partner, change your lifestyle, and adjust to the changes in your body.
There are many things you can do to help make the transition to a life with kidney failure a bit easier and to maintain the quality of life you had before being diagnosed with this illness. Your attitude and acceptance of ESRD will be very important to your adjustment. You may go through a period of anger and frustration, ask “why me?” and perhaps at some point ask ‘why not me?” You may experience depression at the losses in your life that will occur and you may want to give up on your life and the people in it.
Acknowledge and admit your feelings, grieve your losses and changes, and then empower yourself to take back control as much as you can. Become your own best advocate. Have an “attitude of gratitude’ and keep a Gratitude/ Thankful for this day Journal. Add laughter and humor to your life. See the possibilities that you have and not just the losses. Even though you may hate treatment for kidney disease, find a way to be thankful that you can have treatment as it allows you to continue to be with those you love and to live your life to the fullest extent possible.
What is Quality of Life?
Quality of Life (QoL) is a term that often means different things to different people. It seems we all know if we have a good or poor quality of life, but it is hard to define what that means. Researchers and scientists are still trying to find an all-encompassing definition. Merriam-Webster defines quality of life simply as “How good or bad a person’s life is.” It is a subjective measure of the individual, yet it is quite general and doesn’t identify the various measures. Quality of Life includes a number of factors that may change due to various circumstances and time.
The World Health Organization (WHO) looks at quality of life as being divided into Physical Health, Mental Health and Social Health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes the concept of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) as including overall quality of life that can be clearly shown to affect health—either physical or mental. It states that on an individual level, HRQOL includes physical and mental health perceptions (e.g., energy level, mood) and their correlates—including health risks and conditions, functional status, social support, and socioeconomic status.
Your physical and mental health contribute to your quality of life, but neither needs to totally define it. You may have days when you are in pain, you find you cannot do everything you did a month or a year ago, and you just seem to keep adding to the list of your health issues. You also may have times when you are sad or angry, have mood swings, or feel depressed. Yet, you may still find that you would still describe your overall quality of life as O.K. or good. Some people find that physical or mental challenges help them to appreciate life more, they slow down and enjoy the “little things”, they value family and friends more, and they discover a new purpose in life.
So, what is quality of life to you? What brings you happiness and joy? What brings you self-fulfillment and satisfaction? What is important to you in your daily life?