Well, it has been a while, but I think it is time for me to get back to doing one of my favorite things — writing my Kandid Katie column. As most people know, I have been recuperating from my kidney transplant, and it has been a time of adjustment for me. No longer am I required to hook up to a dialysis machine three times a week, but I am required to take a ton of medicine and monitor even the slightest change in my health.
I have to tell you, the best thing about having a kidney transplant is time that has been opened up to me. Now, I can go for a walk in the afternoon if I want to. I can go see a movie, go hang out at my mom’s restaurant if I want to. I could do all of those things on dialysis, but now I have so much more time to enjoy all that God has in store for me.
Yet, while I enjoy my time, I can’t help but think of all my fellow dialysis cohorts that I left behind at the center. I can’t name them, but I always think of them. When you are on hemodialysis, you are part of a big family of people experiencing very similar problems. I know I found myself many times looking to my fellow patients for some solace and understanding from people who are going through the same things. Not that I didn’t appreciate the nurses and the others who helped make our treatments bearable, but it is different when you would talk to one of your buddies who has been through those same cramps, infiltrations and blood pressure drops that are common in dialysis.
I will never forget being told that I would need to start dialysis soon. I remember seeking out anyone who could tell me what to expect. My friend Katie Melvin has always been willing to give me that glimpse into the world of a dialysis patient if I needed it. I would also go looking for others who could tell me what to expect. I think most people with chronic illnesses will always seek out others just to find out what life will be like for them as the disease or illness progresses.
One person who was quite beneficial to me was a young lady from New York named Crystal Lee. She was suffering from lupus, which is much worse than anything I have had to deal with, since my disease only impacted the kidneys. Her disease led to problems with a number of organs. We met each other on Facebook when I went out looking for different dialysis groups to talk about my fears. She immediately wanted to friend me, and I was pleased to talk with someone my age that had been down the big kidney disease roller coaster. I peppered her with questions, and she was more than willing to help me figure out what my path was going to be like. Last week, I found out that Crystal had died last year after suffering for so many years. It breaks my heart to know that she is gone, since I never really got to tell her how much of a difference she made in my life.
In my time on dialysis, I have had learned a great deal just by talking to my fellow kidney disease survivors. It makes a difference when you know you are not alone.
(Editor’s note: Katie Holland can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)