Ask the Doctor
Questions about kidney disease? Risk factors? Signs and symptoms? Are you concerned about yourself, a friend or family member? Ask Dr. Spry.
By Gigi Spicer, RN Director, Kidney Transplant Service, Henrico Doctors' Hospital, Richmond, VA
I have been reflecting on the current state of health care today. I have spent 40 years in the care of individuals with a chronic illness. When I graduated from nursing school in 1969, I could not imagine what I have seen in my professional lifetime. The ability to control many conditions that in the past had no treatment is a tribute to the research and development supported by our research dollars. We now have evidence of the effect of high blood pressure and high blood sugar on the kidney, which has placed them in the top two leading causes of kidney damage. The National Kidney Foundation has provided the leadership to identify and outline the appropriate treatment plan to slow and even halt the progression of chronic kidney disease. What is missing is the lack of understanding or unwillingness of patients to follow their treatment recommendations. This is the major barrier to successful disease management.
Understanding the required steps in the treatment plan turns out to be dependent on a patient's ability to develop a relationship/partnership with care providers. Coping with a chronic illness requires a serious reorganization of personal priorities. Patients will need to create new habits and become experts in their own self-care. This means it is necessary to learn the reasons for the specific treatment plan. Together with the transplant team, the patient can make choices and help create a plan that works for them.
This requires finding a team that you can trust. This team will take the time to help you be successful, and will allow you to feel free to discuss your needs as well as the difficulties in dealing with the treatment plan.
Taking medications is the cornerstone of the treatment plan for Chronic Kidney Disease. I have listed the typical problems I have seen in my practice along with some practical solutions that individuals have shared with me that have allowed them to be successful in managing a complicated medication program.
Receiving social support from healthcare providers and from within the circle of family and friends is highly effective in helping patients be successful in their health management. It is a lack of understanding or unwillingness to follow medical recommendations that continues to be a major concern for patients with long-term medical conditions.
In short, there needs to be a partnership between the patient and the transplant team that allows patients to get the correct information to make informed decisions about the plan of care to achieve the maximum benefits of transplantation.