Saturday, 30 January 2016

Mortality in Focus

The scariest thing about my recent GFR reading is that it brings thoughts of my own mortality into sharp focus. From the moment I was diagnosed with CKD at the wrong end of stage three, I realised the odds of me making it to 80 were on the low side, but as long as my GFR readings were stable I put it to the back of my mind and got on with life. But this new realisation that unless my readings plateau again I could be looking at transplant listing and dialysis in three to four years has started me thinking deeply about the long term consequences of my condition.

The analyst in me has started doing the numbers; the average life expectancy for a patient on dialysis is just five years, although it’s not uncommon for some to live twenty or thirty years on dialysis. The average transplant lasts around ten years though some end up receiving several over the course of their condition. These numbers are also improving with developments in medical science and recent breakthroughs in cloning organs open up real potential in the next few decades. But it’s still very scary.

What petrifies me most is the impact on my family, I desperately want to see my children grow to adulthood. The thought of leaving them without a father, of missing the key milestones they have ahead, threatens to crush me. Behind not being there at all is the pressures it will place on them when my condition develops significant complications like dialysis, I’m sure we’ll cope, but the older my kids are and the more financial security we can get in place first the better.

But my initial researches do leave plenty of room for hope, life expectancy on dialysis appears to be heavily dragged down by the fact that many people entering the process are advanced in years and have other serious health complaints like heart disease. Thankfully I’m relatively young, my health is good excepting the CKD, I don’t smoke, I’m a moderate drinker and the only currently identified barrier to transplant listing is my sizeable weight, something I’m now determined to tackle. My occupation is also one that with reasonable adjustments (if required) should be maintainable on dialysis. All things considered there are many people in far worse predicaments out there and I need to focus on getting the most from life now whilst preparing for what the future might throw at me.

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