For those with kidney disease, life goes on - - Columbia, South Carolina

For those with kidney disease, life goes on


In many cases, kidney disease can be prevented.

It's based largely on lifestyle: watching your blood pressure and your weight. But for some, it's an inherited disease.

"The mindset I had then as a 20 year old - I was invincible," said Brian McDonald.

McDonald has polycystic kidney disease, which means cysts grow in his kidneys.

He was diagnosed almost 10 years ago.

"After I was diagnosed in 2005, that's when it really shook me and made me realize I need to do something," McDonald said.

It started with taking better care of his body.

"Getting my blood pressure under control, that was number 1,” McDonald said. “And from there because of the kidney issues I was having I changed my diet. Watch my salt intake."

Getting your health on track helps prolong the life of the kidneys. Doctors also recommended dialysis.

"I'm there Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays for four hours," McDonald said.

Dialysis replaces your kidney function, removing toxins and excess fluid from the body.

There are two main options: Hemo-dialysis is done in a clinic several days a week and Peritoneal-dialysis is done at home every day.

It's a matter of which fits best into your life.

"Whether you decide to come into a clinic for treatment or do peritoneal, it's a lifestyle change not just for the patient but for the family also,” McDonald said.

When a patient begins dialysis for the first time they are given a social worker to help guide them through the new process.

"Every patient that I've had, I've been able to help them to get whatever benefits they need and coach them through that process," said social worker Amanda Bonner.

A process that includes helping patients afford dialysis and learning how to maintain a normal life.

"The diagnosis itself is heartbreaking,” McDonald said. “But it's better to know than not know. So once you know and find out, you can make your adjustments and keep moving."

And life goes on.

Sometimes it's hard to see that through a diagnosis or any traumatic life event but Brian McDonald made a point to stress, making the best of your situation. In his case, his disease was inherited but for many others, chronic kidney disease develops because of poor health choices.

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