According to Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, there are five stages of grief:
Five Stages Of Grief
1. Denial and Isolation.
People usually experience these 5 stages after a death or some other significant loss. The stages can also be experienced in other situations like finding out you have a chronic illness. Depending on what your illness is, all these stages of grief can apply. While going through these stages, there’s no “specific time frame” that a person gets through them. Some people may linger at stage 3 for awhile. Others may never get past step 1.
I’m not going to write about each stage, although I did go through all of them when I found out that I had to go on dialysis. I think I flew through all the stages and landed on “acceptance” pretty quickly because I had a lot of incentive. It was simple for me, I wanted to live by whatever means necessary.
*Acceptance: “This is when the anger, sadness and mourning have tapered off. The person simply accepts the reality of the loss.”
Last week my husband and I were having a conversation about a couple of patients that we knew who hadn’t reached the acceptance stage. One patient had been on dialysis about 10 years and the other, only 2 years…I say “only” but any amount of time on dialysis, is too much time on dialysis.
While you’re reading this, you might wonder how I know these patients haven’t accepted being on dialysis. It’s been through conversations with the both of them that I realized it. One of them feels that their doctor made a mistake and they shouldn’t be on dialysis at all. The other feels that it’s alright if they skip dialysis treatments because there are days that they feel good.
I don’t know how to reach these people. I wish I did because it makes me sad. I know that when you accept what has happened to your body and what you need to do, it puts a lot of things into perspective. I believe it also makes it easier for you to then take better care of yourself.
When I started dialysis, I was scared. More scared than I had ever been. I felt like a little girl who was trying to be brave but was failing miserably. Doug was with me and was very supportive but there are things that you have to go through and deal with on your own and that happened when the tech came at me with the needles. They were BIG, HUGE needles and I cringed at the thought of having them put in my arm. The tech than told me that after a month or so, they would switch the needles and I would get the bigger ones…the bigger ones?!! I was ready to leave the unit. I wanted to go home and curl up in my bed with some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (chunky monkey) and never leave my room.
But I didn’t. I couldn’t. Because I had accepted whatever is was that I had to go through, six months before I actually had to go through it. I had gone to the dialysis education. I had undergone surgery to have my graft (my dialysis access) put in and I was ready. I had accepted the inevitable because I wanted to live.
So with acceptance came so many things for me. My life definetely changed. Three times a week I knew I had a standing appointment that took up my mornings between 6:45am – 10:30am. No plans could be made during that period. I also made friends that I probably would have never given a second glance if we were outside the unit. I’ve met some of the nicest people, some have passed away but many are still around. I’ve dealt and continue to deal with some racist people, which really surprised me because we’re all at the same place for the same thing and yet they bring their racism into that place.
I have met techs, doctors and nurses who took their jobs for the real reason, wanting to take care of people. And on the flip side I have met some healthcare professionals who took their jobs just for the money. But I accept all of that because it’s part of dealing with my disease.
Acceptance. When I sat down to write today’s blog the first thing that popped into my mind was the Serenity Prayer,”God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” I can’t change the need to be on dialysis, so I accepted it. It truly does make living life, so much easier.