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Shawn's Story

When I found out about the kidney disease, I was devastated; it felt like I was immediately plunged into grief.

It was in the summer of 2018, that I was diagnosed with stage 4 chronic kidney disease. Prior to my diagnosis, the only symptom that I felt was fatigue. When I found out about the kidney disease, I was devastated; it felt like I was immediately plunged into grief. I didn’t know where to turn. Anything, anyone said to me, didn’t sound like the right thing. My nephrologist told me that I would likely need dialysis or a kidney transplant within one year, and once again, I was in shock.

As time went on, I did my best to maintain my renal diet in hopes of prolonging my kidney function as long as I could. I started peritoneal dialysis 4 years later, in 2022.

Not only was my kidney team at the hospital amazing, but my family, friends, and church community all helped me get through this. The thing that helped me the most was the peer support groups at The Kidney Foundation. When I first found out about them, I joined right away and finally felt like I was around a group of people who truly understood what I was going through. I felt supported. I felt that there was this kidney community that I could relate to, and they could relate to me. Knowing I had the peers to connect with helped me feel like I wasn’t alone.

The most challenging part of this journey was getting to the point of acceptance. For a long time, I didn’t want to accept that I had kidney disease and eventually would need dialysis. However, once I made the decision to start dialysis, I felt at peace. I had this sense of relief knowing I would get through this. I let go of all my fears and was ready for surgery to get my catheter inserted for peritoneal dialysis.

Having the catheter attached to me was a bit of a struggle and took some getting used to. I had to make adjustments to my clothing choices in order to become more comfortable. It wasn’t easy but as with most things, I held onto a positive attitude. It is important to feel good about yourself in the body that you’re in, regardless of what’s going on. For those struggling with body image, stay positive and do what makes you feel good. Accept the help. You don’t have to feel alone. There is support out there.