91 years old and not pleased to be on BigD – Welcome to the club!

1-unsureJack added a comment a few weeks ago that is worth re-posting as a separate topic.  It’s a little twist on our most fundamental challenge.

I am a young 91 yr old man who has had systolic kidneys for over 30+ years. 4.5 +- creatinine level. last April (2015) my kidneys finally gave out and after a week in E.R. and another week in rehab. now on dialysis 3 times a week for 3 hours. My last check-up showed my creatinine at 5.9., a little improvement.

I do not think the doctors think I am a candidate for transplant at my age, but I am completely frustrated and depressed having to take the treatments.  I played tennis up to one year ago. If it was not for the love of family, I really do not know how long I could tolerate.  Do you, or anyone, have suggestions?

Many thanks


Hi Jack.  Young 91 year-olds are just as entitled to be frustrated and depressed as the rest of us.  And you are in exalted company.  I’m sad to say these feelings never go away entirely, no matter how long you are on dialysis.  But the big plus of dialysis – if you are getting enough – is that you get your active, healthy life back between sessions.  That is a huge gift, considering the alternative.  If you walked or ran, played tennis or wrestled bears before dialysis, there’s no reason why you can’t do the same after you go on dialysis (maybe smaller bears…).

Your body will need a few weeks to get used to the new routine, but if the dialysis is right, then you will be too.

Of course, I’m talking physically here.  Recovering mentally is a different thing altogether. And you are not alone in how you feel Jack.  Others have gone so far as to philosophise about it, probing the seven stages of the grief cycle that have become our intimate allies: Shock, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Testing and eventually Acceptance.

But there is a world of difference between theory and practice.  I am certain that while many of us BigD veterans have finally reached acceptance, that doesn’t mean we have finished with our old friends Anger and Depression.  They are just under the surface, ready to emerge on weak days.

About a year ago I walked around our dialysis unit with my phone set on video and asked a range of people, young and old, what it was what like to be on dialysis (have a look, it’s worth it).  Everyone, in one form or another, said that in their head they were grateful, and accepted that they needed dialysis, but in their heart they still resented the time and hassle.  Amen.

But as you say, there are other things in our life besides dialysis.  Like family and sport, and for me personal projects, history, travel, Mandarin, writing, tech and biotech.  So much happening in the world.  It’s a great ride, and who knows what tomorrow will bring?

And what’s the price of a ticket on this ride?  Dialysis? –  Pretty steep!  But worth it.

3 thoughts on “91 years old and not pleased to be on BigD – Welcome to the club!

  1. Hi Jack, I certainly can understand where you are coming from but will tell you about my wife. She is 56, a type 1 diabetic with heart disease, a left leg amputee and right fore foot amputee due to the diabetes and her kidneys failed last year and she ended up on dialysis when we were supposed to be going on holiday.

    She has got every right in the world to complain about the raw deal she has been dealt but she just shrugs her shoulders and just smiles and says oh well. She is not one to be held down and started on home haemodialysis to give herself some more freedom and we are now travelling around in a caravan and doing dialysis in the caravan.

    We are from Perth and have been on the road for 2 months now and are in Queensland. She is an amazing woman with the right attitude. I guess that is just the way with some people.

    Just for your interest, if you want to look, have a look at ” Dialysis on Wheels ” on Facebook and follow our journey. Nothing is impossible with the right attitude.


  2. Good timing! I’m 76 and have been on dialysis and on the transplant list for almost four years. As the months go on, I fear the chance of a transplant are fading and the four Nx Stage treatments per week are truly restrictions. But you’re right: the alternative is even more restrictive.


  3. I had to laugh at the small bears comment. Thanks for this post for keeping my humble. I find sometimes myself feeling a little jaded at the age some people start dialysis at- usually 30-70 years after myself, but no matter the age it’s not something anyone wants to do.

    I definitely agree with the overall message on this post: After a brief adjustment period, life is more than possible. If you want into dialysis after a steady decline in kidney function, you might even feel better now the toxins are being regularly removed from your body. So adjust the things you need to, and try to enjoy the rest of the time in your life.


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