Monday, July 26, 2010

Drawing a Picture

At dialysis, I admire how the techs and nurses take care of the patients with genuine concern and sympathy. Just like anywhere in the world, some of the patients are grumpy, some complain, but most return the kindness with smiles and laughter. Because we are all there at the same time each day of the week, it isn't long before everybody feels like a family away from home.

Jake: "You have to really care about people to work here, don't you?"

Diana: "I guess so."

Jake: "I think you do. I've seen the way some of the people treat you, yet you always approach them with kindness. Not everybody could do that. I know it would be hard for me."

Diana: "Yeah, I guess I learned a lot when I worked in the nursing home before I came here. One old dude bit me on the elbow. That freakin' hurt! And another guy liked to kick me."

Jake: "Really?"

Diana: "Yeah, he'd kick me and say, 'You like that?' Then he'd grit his teeth and sneer and kick me again. That old man would laugh too!"

Jake: "Ha ha ha! At least nobody here bites you."

Diana: "True. Ha ha!"

I don't remember where I heard this, but it was explained that children with cancer were asked to draw a picture of their disease using crayons. The result was two types of drawings. One illustrates a big monster, taking up most of the page next to a small frowny-face kid. The other is a small dot or a scribble surrounded by a team of big strong doctors. The children who see their cancer as small and harmless are the ones who have a better chance of survival. They benefit from treatment significantly more than the kids who think their cancer is too big.

Doctors want patients to know there is a strong team of specialists behind them to help take care of the cancer and make it go away. That is how I feel about kidney failure. I know I am surrounded by a team of amazing specialists and friends who encourage my health and well-being.

If I were asked to draw a picture of my kidney failure and diabetes, I would draw myself smiling with a big red smiley face on my tummy. By my side, Christiana would be smiling along with my brothers, my dog Moses, everyone at the dialysis center, the team at the IMC transplant center, Dr. Cline, my co-workers, and all of my friends. Everyone would appear eager for a successful transplant and we'd all be ready to party!

It's strange to think how living with a disease can affect the way you view the world. For me, it's been a positive experience because it's given people several opportunities to show how much they care. And they really do. I don't know if I would understand how deeply people cared if I wasn't diabetic. It also brings intuitive strength and perspective.

It's strange to think about living without diabetes, but I'm really looking forward to it.

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