Get involved - Look after yourself

Some patients choose to “sit back” and let the medical professionals look after them.

Doctors will tell you that patients who talk an active part in managing their own treatment have better outcomes.

So what should you do?

Here are some things to think about as a dialysis patient or a carer:

A positive attitude – All renal patients will tell you there is no “normal” route through Chronic Kidney Disease and renal failure. There will be many twists and turns. At times things might feel over whelming. Maintaining a positive outlook is vital to help yourself get through the challenges ahead. Talk to you family & friends. By some estimations, 25% of patients with renal failure suffer from depression. Talk to your clinic's counsellor.

Educate yourself – learn about your kidneys and your specific kidney disease. Talk to your doctor. Take advantage of the education sessions available through the Advanced Kidney Care Clinic. These include sessions on dialysis and transplantation.

Diet – eat the right things. Keep to your low potassium diet or other as recommended by the clinics dietician. For more information on diets see the section on this subject.

Blood pressure – measure your blood pressure at home. Machines are compact and affordable. Ask your clinic team for recommendations. Weight loss will help with reducing your blood pressure as well as reducing your intake of salt.

Weight and fluid management – Being overweight can lead to significant complications for renal patients, placing a greater strain on their hearts and other organs. Transplant surgery is further complicated and conditions such as diabetes are more likely. In addition however many renal patients actually lose weight during their treatment. Loss of appetite, the effects of haemodialysis and a stricter diet mean that they find themselves losing kilos. Tracking this weight-loss is equally important. Fluid gain can take place if the patients dry weight is not adjusted in line with weight (fat) loss. The first signs might be swollen ankles followed ultimately by breathing difficulty with fluid on the lungs.

The KPA recently bought the clinic a Body Composition Monitor (BCM). The BCM has been specifically designed for patients with kidney failure. You just need to have two sticky pads attached to your ankle and wrist and lie still. In less than two minutes the BCM – Body Composition Monitor gives information about the individual's fluid status. For more information ask your consultant or the haemodialysis coordinator.