Health & Wellbeing


Lesson 10 Module 4

“ words to describe my complete ignorance of how much kidney failure would affect my life.”   Kidney patient

Our career plays heavily on our minds when diagnosed with kidney disease. It is not just the financial implications. We often derive our sense of identity from what we do. It is how others see and judge us, within most societies. Alongside family, people view their career as the most important thing to them.

With a diagnosis of kidney disease, this changes.

Your focus becomes your health. At the same time, the realities of life cannot be ignored. One reality is that you may not be able to continue on your current career path in the long term. That’s not always a bad thing. There are often opportunities within your career that may be more suitable for you, especially if you move into kidney failure and dialysis. Therefore, before you think about finding or continuing your job, you must decide if you are physically and mentally ready to continue at your work.

This is something with which I struggled, when diagnosed. Initially, on being told I had kidney failure, the first thing I asked was; am I going to die! Obviously I didn't care about college or work or anything, straight away. That came later as I reflected on the reality of the disease and the future that lay ahead of me. I was studying sports and fitness. Would I have gone down that path of study, if I had known I would have kidney disease and kidney failure in the future? Of course not!

Another consideration is in relation to your mental health. We need to look to the future with a sense of purpose and hope. Our career is a very important aspect of this.

The lesson for you today is: Ask yourself, are in a position to look ahead and grasp the reality of living with kidney disease? If yes, then begin to shape your thinking in relation to your career and how you aim to spend your time. 

When considering your career you must look back to the realities of living with kidney disease, the “pain points” we looked at previously. Not merely looking at the side effects but how kidney disease could affect your ability to work in the job you currently do or the job you may wish to do.

Anemia is a good example. You may experience fatigue, an inability to think clearly, weakness and shortness of breath. Therefore, how will your ability to work be affected if these feelings exist? 

With this in mind you need to think about two important things. Firstly, the job's suitability to you, and secondly, your suitability to the job.

When looking at your jobs suitability a few things to consider include.

 - Is the job very physically and mentally demanding?

 - Will you be able to get time off for medical appointments?

 - If you are on dialysis or have a transplant is it a clean, sterile working environments with low chance of infections?

 - If you are on peritoneal dialysis (PD) and have an abdominal catheter can you do physical work, such as heavy lifting, safely?

It is your  personal responsibility to examine your suitability to the job you do. Also what could you do to enhance your job suitability.

- Are you and will you be physically and mentally fit to continue long term?

- Could you speak with your manager/employer about modifications that could help you in your work?

 - Are there different jobs/departments more suitable for you to work in?

 - Could you work fewer hours or fewer days?

Other areas of work?

Continuing to work can help you feel healthy, productive and able to provide for yourself and loved ones. Saying that there are alternatives to working, depending on your situation, that can help you feel productive and useful. Those receiving disability benefits can also look in this direction.

Examples include.

 - Going back to education and continuously learning is one of the greatest gifts we can give to our present and future selves. 

 - Volunteering has many benefits. It can help you feel good about yourself while gaining skills that could help you get a paying job in the future. Organisations such as the Lions and Rotary Clubs are both socially rewarding and great for networking.

- Public speaking is a great avenue and sideline where you can help yourself and others by speaking about the lessons you have learnt with kidney disease. Sharing your story and educating others can develop your own speaking skills while promoting and advocating for those with kidney disease.

With kidney disease, you may be forced to give up active work and your social life for a while. This can be overwhelming and traumatic initially. But you see from the course that there are many avenues and practices that can transform your life in a different, unexpected direction.

Essentially this lesson is not just about looking ahead at the realities of living with kidney disease but also seeing the possibilities that come from kidney disease. It Is important to begin thinking in terms of "working smart, not hard", because your body will be going through enough challenges.