My Story: How I Coped With Dialysis & Depression
Angela L. Davis is the founder of For Kidney’s Sake, a nonprofit based in Queens, New York, that helps dialysis patients overcome isolation and depression by participating in fun and educational social events. She was honored as the American Kidney Fund Hero of Hope in 2015 for her commitment to making life better for the patients in her community. Here she shares with BlackDoctor.org her personal story of coping with kidney disease.
Dialysis, isolation, depression, anger. Each of these words has a separate meaning but they seem to go hand-in-hand with each other. For many dialysis patients, these words combine to form a “new normal” state brought on by living with kidney failure. I know this, because I live it.
I started this journey in January 2008 and I have seen, heard and shared a lot with other chronic kidney disease and dialysis patients in the past eight years. Many patients, myself included, have many co-morbidities. We have to see multiple physicians and specialists, and they prescribe a myriad of drugs. Going to dialysis three times a week and constantly having to visit different doctors often brings on a flood of anxiety and feelings of depression. This disease has a way of taking over your life.
Having kidney failure changes a lot of things, and that can contribute to feelings of depression and isolation. One of the first things that can change quickly is your social life. Throughout my eight-year run on dialysis I have lost many friends who stopped coming to visit or just no longer wanted to get together. I could no longer eat the same foods or drink alcohol, and I had to limit my fluid intake.
I couldn’t travel on a whim anymore—it’s hard to be spontaneous when you have to be attached to a machine for four hours, three times a week. Eventually these friends felt they could no longer hang out with me; others were just put off or freaked out by the entire process of dialysis and my physical changes.
I was not prepared for the physical changes this disease would wreak on my body. My skin became four shades darker, extremely dry and flaky, often peeling and itching. Every inch of my body…