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Talking to Your Friends About Kidney Disease

Do you worry about telling your friends or peers you have kidney disease?  Being nervous and afraid of how others will react is normal at any age, but it can be extra tough when you're a teenager. It may seem hard to explain kidney disease and how it affects you. You may wonder:

  • Whom do I tell?
  • How do I bring up the subject?
  • How much should I share?
  • Will I be treated differently after they know I have kidney disease?

Deciding what to tell your friends about your health is totally up to you.  It might help to start with your closest friends. Start by sharing a little and then share more as you feel comfortable.  Remember you had a lot to learn about kidney disease, so your friends may have questions too.  They may not ever be able to understand completely what you are going through, but the more they learn from you the better friend they can be to you. 

What if I miss a lot of school?

Sometimes you may miss a lot of school when you are not feeling well from kidney disease. It may be hard to catch up and feel part of the class again.  Your parents and teachers can work with you to make sure you are able to get the information and homework you need to keep up with your studies when  you aren’t able to be there. Your friends can help out too, keeping you informed about what is going on at school.

How do I explain the changes in my body?

Not only can kidney disease and it’s treatments affect how you feel, but it can also affect how you look.  These changes can be especially hard as a teen. You may have swelling, acne, changes in skin color, or access sites that people can see. 

Talk with your parents, healthcare team, and teachers to find a way to share what living with kidney disease is like for you. This will help everyone learn more about kidney disease and how they can all support you at school. 

Look around at your peers.  Everyone’s bodies are changing.  Boys are getting taller, voices are getting deeper; girls are growing too in different ways.  You may be experiencing different things from your friends but you are all changing. 

Don’t let kidney disease define you

Remember, kidney disease is not the only important thing to know about you!  Be sure to share with your friends, classmates, and teachers all the other ways you are unique and special!   

Last Reviewed: 08/15/2016
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