I Just Knew Dialysis Was the End
Actually, it was a good beginning.
Editor’s note: John Joyce thought that dialysis treatment for failing kidneys was a sure death sentence. He just hated it. Two years later, he’s a spunky, fun-loving man who doesn’t let anything keep him from what he loves—his wife Sheila of 60 years, his family, travelling, exercising and more. Mr. Joyce is 84-years-old and is living with Type 2 diabetes. He shares the following story with Our Health Matters.
I’ve had a lot of time to think about how I got here (dialysis three times a week). I want people to know that dialysis is not a death sentence, it’s a lifeline. I did not want to do dialysis because I just didn’t know what to expect…what is my life expectancy? Is this the end? It was fear of the unknown. What I discovered is this is just a new beginning.
I spent many years working as a commercial construction project manager around the country. My work life contributed a lot to my unhealthy lifestyle. I was staying up late, not getting enough sleep, was stressed out and worked a schedule that required a lot of early morning and late-night travelling. I also had really poor eating habits. There was no history of diabetes in my family, but there is heart disease.
I learned I had diabetes 5 years ago when I was 79 years old. I felt like 10 miles of bad road. I had terrible itching and was always sluggish—my kidneys were not eliminating waste. I started diabetes treatment and went to diabetes education classes. The experience helped me realize this condition was really serious, and that I had to start living differently. I saw immediate results. I kept telling the doctor about my great glucose readings. I quit eating junk and ate healthier food in smaller portions. I quickly lost 20 to 30 lbs.
My kidney doctor (nephrologist) monitored me closely and warned that I could be headed to dialysis because of the damage that had already done. He said I would need to make the decision when the time came. Later, my nephrologist found an elevated creatinine level, which indicated impaired kidney function or kidney disease.
How I feel being on dialysis.
When you’re on dialysis, you must have a positive mental attitude, or you will give up. You must follow the diet. My wife and I both stopped eating junk food—chips, sweets, and we pay close attention to what we eat.
My quality of life with diabetes.
I don’t limit myself. Sheila and I travel a lot. When we do, Joni, the renal social worker at Dialysis Clinic contacts and schedules my dialysis where we are traveling. We have traveled to California, Salt Lake City, Utah and Branson. We plan ahead so I can get my dialysis when I travel.
If you’re facing dialysis, have a positive attitude and accept the help, and support of the diabetes educators and doctors. If you don’t have diabetes, do everything you can to prevent it!
What has helped me is a supportive wife and caregiver, having a positive outlook on life, a spiritual foundation and belief system.
Mr. Joyce is a retired construction project manager. He enjoys researching his and his wife’s family genealogy, and Bible study.