Kidney Must-Dos You Might Have Missed in 2016

Nobody does anything perfectly. Something you’ve missed, or didn’t do as well as you might have, is just another opportunity to learn and grow. Look back over your shoulder, learn, and be happier and healthier in the year ahead.
Let’s see how you did over the past year. Did you:

Keep all your dialysis appointments?

This is a big one, maybe the most important question on the list. Missed or shortened treatments mean fluid buildup and trouble breathing, heartbeat irregularities, lower energy, mineral and bone disease getting worse, cramping, and other symptoms.  Studies consistently show that missed treatments mean shortened life expectancy.

Take all your meds?

Pills, pills, pills…remember, remember, remember. The routine can seem like a merry-go-round, and it’s just natural you’ll want to get off once in a while. But this break from your meds can break your health. Studies have shown that non-adherence to meds results in increased hospitalizations and shortened life-expectancy. 

Stick to your kidney-healthy diet?

The “No One’s Looking” Diet is not the way to good health.  If you have kidney disease, eating too much potassium or calcium or the wrong foods can actually “help” your disease hurt you.

Get in regular exercise?

When you’re in shape, you’re a better “kidney disease fighter.” A healthier body is better able to cope with kidney disease. Exercise improves blood pressure and muscle tone, lowers cholesterol, fights obesity, and helps you sleep better. Importantly, it also helps with depression, too.

Report any medical problems quickly?

Common dialysis access infections can start with just a little redness or soreness and seem like nothing. But if you don’t call the dialysis center right away, the infection can quickly spread and become a real problem that needs to be corrected through medication or surgery. Make sure to report any issues to your healthcare team quickly.

Tell others when you’re feeling “down”?

People with chronic illness can feel they are enough trouble to people already and “don’t want to complain.” They may think that it helps to keep their complaints or moods to themselves. But this can lead to really big problems in the long run. And there’s no reason for it. There are people, such as social workers, who are there to listen and give useful advice. There are support groups for people who feel like you—and they probably work better than you think.

Plan ahead when vacationing?

Think of people with kidney disease as a “special travelers club.” Our travel plans need an extra step. There are even special websites and travel agencies to help people with kidney disease. Setting up local contacts for medical emergencies and taking along backup supplies are easy to forget in the rush of enthusiasm when going on vacation. So before you relax, plan first--and then relax!

Know your Kidney Score and keep a record?

Different people, organizations, labs, they all have one thing in common—you. And you are the logical collection point for important health information. Tracking your GFR and ACR numbers yourself is basic, simple, and easy. There are even Apps out there to help. It just a matter of getting into the habit.

Take time out to enjoy yourself?

Part of successful treatment and getting better is “taking your life back.” Kidney disease itself not only “robs” the body of normal functions, but can steer you away from the things you used to enjoy. Treatment saves your life, but it’s up to you to live it at its best. Ask yourself, “Since I’ve been diagnosed with CKD, what activities have I dropped that I used to enjoy?” “Which ones can I pick up again?” “Which ones can I adjust and do again now?” You have every right to enjoy life.
Don’t feel bad if you checked off quite a few on this list—that just means that the year ahead can be even better, thanks to healthier habits. The only reason to feel bad is if you don’t do anything, and most of these “fixes” are easier than you think! We at NKF all wish you a great and healthy New Year. Remember that NKF is always cheering you on and here to help.