Over the Christmas holiday time both Peter and Armand left comments about their nervousness starting the BigD, Peter for his soon-to-be wife and Armand for himself.
They are not alone. Everyone gets nervous about starting something as dramatic and alien as the BigD: the needles, being a patient, the machine, watching your blood go round and round through the dialysis kidney, the time commitment – it is a big life change. Also, most people feel very unwell by the time the starts dialysis, so unwell that they can no longer work or play. Things feel bleak.
But after a few weeks on the BigD, they begin to feel well again – often well enough to start taking their life back. And once you get used to the routine (which takes about a month), you begin to realise that dialysis itself is no big deal: you arrive with toxins in your blood, you sit there for three to four hours then you leave with nice clean blood. Some people like to think of it as a four-hour pee.
So what is the real BigD life change? It’s the time it takes to make it all happen – usually about 15 hours a week.
When I started, my doctor suggested that I think of the BigD as my second job and to make allowances for getting there each session. And I worked out pretty quickly that I really have no choice but to be there, it’s not some optional hobby. So now I think of it as my main job, and I think of family time, my for-pay job, the gym, hobby time, movies, etc, as things I can do because of my main job.
So now that you are joining the BigD club, the question is not How much of my life do I have to forego? Rather it’s How will I refashion my life around this new BigD “job”? Because of BigD, you still have a life. So you can review it: do I want to keep doing what I did before, or is this my chance to reassess and reprioritise? Should I negotiate to reduce my work hours? Or should I start BigD early and work later? Maybe change the focus to family, fitness or a new work/home mix?
Life with BigD will not be worse, just different. It’s your choice how different.