Quality over Quantity
I got some rather distressing news this week. I received a diagnosis with Stage 4 Chronic Kidney Disease. The doctor had a peculiar way of telling me about the severity of my illness. He gave me a little booklet that described the disease, some causes of the disease, and the facts about treatment. On the back side of the brochure was a bar graph representing the stages of progression and what that means. He handed me the book just moments before leaving the exam room and went as he said, “you are at stage 4.” I didn’t understand much about what kind of treatment I would receive, and he said that he would need to do some more tests. I quickly learned that I might need dialysis and possibly a transplant if it reaches stage 5. The estimated prognosis wasn’t good news either. I was disturbed by the information. I sent a text to my therapist, and luckily she was free for that hour. She is very good at her job and has taught me an excellent method of calming my fears. I felt much better after our session. Although the disease predicts a mortality rate of about ten years, I have begun to think about it as not being as bad as my depression and anxiety. Kidney disease is quantifiable while mental illness is not. Psychiatry is more of a fuzzy science that doesn’t always give a correct diagnosis or have a predictable outcome from prescribed treatment. Frankly, I have found it to be a series of guesses. The Psychiatrist may say that you can try this or that and see what happens. The whole process creates uncertainty and doesn’t give the patient a great deal of hope for a cure. I learned that a kidney transplant is a treatment, not a cure and the treatment process can only slow the progression of the disease I have concluded that all I can do is to is better self-care in hopes of remaining at the current level of functioning. The worst part in my mind is that doctors have commented on my kidney function for many years and have never referred me to a nephrologist until now. I could probably change some things earlier that would have kept me out of this predicament. I believe that focusing on my mental health will give me a better quality of life and I can accept whatever quantity of life remains. Peace be with you.