Stephen’s Story – September

By Stephen C., Administrative Assistant

Hello all! I hope you are enjoying the Patient’s Voice Blog so far. We all worked really hard on our posts and I think they turned out great. (Don’t they inspire you to submit your own blog post?) Again, I’m Stephen Campbell, the administrative assistant for DPC, and I’ll be using my posts as a way to talk about my personal experience with dialysis as well as a way to answer some frequently asked questions I get here at the office.
This week I want to talk about staying social and how much of a difference a little gesture can make. It can be hard when you have to go to dialysis three times a week or need to do your home therapy for hours on end. But that doesn’t necessarily mean those hours subtract from your social life.

One thing to remember is that you don’t need to feel embarrassed about inviting your friends to dialysis. My father used to have a Saturday dialysis time, so he would often invite his good friends to come to the dialysis center to watch his Cal Bears play football on his little TV. Sure, some of your friends might feel a little squeamish, but you’d be surprised how quickly they get used to it, especially when they realize how much you appreciate the visit.
Of course, I’m sure some of you don’t feel comfortable or aren’t allowed to invite friends to dialysis; you might consider it a private matter and that’s perfectly fine. Dialysis centers are full of folks who invariably have at least one thing in common with you. These folks are, of course, your fellow patients.

It’s understandable to want to keep to yourself at dialysis. I remember when my father came home from his first treatment, he sounded like me after my first day of middle school. “I’m definitely not going to be friends with any of these people.” “I have nothing in common with anyone.” Just like starting school, starting dialysis is a big adjustment and it’s upsetting, but the fact is, you do have something in common with everyone. And that commonality isn’t something like working at the same place or going to the same school because it’s something that affects a lot of different aspects of your life outside of dialysis.

It’s probably the case that you don’t want a friendship where your conversations are dominated by managing fluids and keeping your labs good. But if the person in the chair next to you is reading a book you like or watching the same TV show as you, don’t feel strange about striking up a conversation. What have you got to lose by starting a friendly conversation?

Let me tell you a story of what you have to gain. After my father got comfortable at dialysis, he started talking to people. One of those people was a man named Roscoe. Roscoe had fled Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina. For the first time in his life, he left his home and his family. He ended up far away in the desert of Southern California. Roscoe and my father became great friends. They were both men that loved food and loved to cook. Roscoe came to our annual chili cook-off during the Super Bowl and beat the pants off of the reigning champ (me) with a killer renal-friendly smoked meat chili.

Even though my father has since passed, Roscoe still comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners at my house and we keep in close contact with him. This great familial relationship we have with Roscoe all stems from my father striking up a nondescript conversation with his neighboring chair.

Do you have really great suggestions for being social at dialysis? Did you make a close friend at dialysis? You should share with us! Leave a comment below, or better yet, write your own blog post.

From left to right: myself, my brother David, and Roscoe on Christmas Day, 2011

Comments

  1. Great story! It’s so true that the friendships & support systems built in the dialysis center can be quite meaningful & familial. I’ve worked in dialysis for about 13 yrs now at varying levels, & I was a patient as well. I remember when I was fairly new to the world of dialysis working in the front office. We were admitting a patient that had been kicked out of another facility & rumor spread in the dialysis community about what a difficult patient he was. Upon meeting him, he was rather quiet, in my opinion. We decided to sit him next to the most talkative patient at our facility…and that did the trick. They became the best of friends! And he became a model patient! Whatever bad behavior he demonstrated at his previous center(s), we never experienced. And when I became a dialysis patient, the relationships which I already adored with our patients grew even stronger. I miss working in the facility level. Although I was eager to advance & take on new responsibilities in the dialysis industry, leaving behind my dialysis family was like leaving home for the first time to go out on my own. Every chance I get to go back & visit is an absolute pleasure!

  2. Thank u Stephen for sharing this heartfelt story. Although I cannot relate to hemodialysis, I can relate to remaining social doing dialysis. I do peritoneal dialysis, manually, 4-5 times a day. I pack my supplies in an insulated bag and take it with me wherever. I’ve gone to concerts, parties, church,…and I meet new people all the time. I am very open about it and educate people what it is. Plus, it gives me more material for my own blog. I never know who I’m gonna meet and where it may lead…i just may meet my future donor.

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