Self-discipline, a key to living well with kidney disease

Er. K. R. Sharma is 67 years old retired Assistant Engineer from Hanumangarh, Rajasthan, India. A proud grandfather, he is living a healthy and normal life with a single transplanted kidney for the last 43 years. He shares his experience receiving a kidney transplant and the necessity for each transplant patient to have hope and self discipline.

What was your diagnosis, and can you briefly describe the treatment you have received?

To be truthful, I was just aware of the fever, vomiting, cough, cold, but I wasn’t aware of any other complications. For me, it started with two symptoms, vomiting and facial swelling. So, initially, we did all the local treatment available, without any relief. We then visited a doctor, Dr. Paras Jain, who suspected kidney failure and suggested we go to the SMS hospital in Jaipur, where they did dialysis, but to no avail. There, we were advised to go home or to the CMC in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, as they did not have a kidney transplant center at that time. We consulted the nephrologist at the CMC, who assessed my condition, and all the necessary diagnostic tests were carried out. The doctors could find no specific cause for my kidney failure and concluded that a kidney transplant was the only cure.

What have been the most challenging aspects of being diagnosed and living with kidney disease?

First of all, it was a question of understanding the disease at that time (1977) and then accepting it. Even finances were an issue. I left everything in God’s hand and decided to keep busy, because as they say, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop, so I decided to seize every minute of my life.

 How do/did you manage or cope with these challenges?

As I mentioned, I kept busy and almost tried to think of myself as normal as everyone else. It was the only way to move forward at that time. My wife helped me take all the precautions (which she has been taking up to now).

What are the most important learnings in your journey with kidney disease?

I am 67 years old now with 43 years of transplantation, and for me, the key learning is to live life to the fullest with a SELF DISCIPLINE. Eat healthily, not palatable, do yoga and exercise regularly, take prescribed medication on time, and take all precautions recommended.

What do you think are the more important things that can help patients to live well with kidney disease?

The first thing to do is not to be depressed, even if I know it, the one who suffers knows it, but it is me a “sufferer” who is telling you: YOU CAN DO THIS. Moreover, you have to do it. Second, try not to miss a single dose of medication. Third, Do not take any medications other than what you have been prescribed. Fourth – Take all PRECAUTIONS, i.e., eat healthily, not palatable. Fifth – Do yoga or exercise regularly.

What sorts of things would you suggest helping patients become better empowered and be in more control of their health/life?

Trust your doctor, follow their guidelines, eat healthily, not palatable (believe me, it’s for you and your family), and keep yourself busy.

What are your hopes and fears for the future concerning your disease and your life in general? Are you hopeful that you will be okay?

No fears at all, as these are merely the diseases that can’t stop us.
As far as hope is concerned, ‘always be positive’, have faith, do your best, and everything will fall in line.

What is something you wish people knew about living with kidney disease?

You are the fighter so PROOVE it.

How did the recent COVID-pandemic change your experience with kidney disease? 

The COVID-pandemic has not affected me very much. I kept myself busy with learning new technological things in the spare time I found in my otherwise busy schedule; and I have registered for 5K AnyWay at the World Transplant Games.