If you are reading this, there is a good chance you, or a loved one, have been diagnosed with a kidney disease. Nearly 30 million Americans suffer from kidney ailments, yet a diagnosis can make you feel terribly alone, cut-off from the world and the life you knew before. It’s as if you’ve suddenly plunged down the proverbial Rabbit Hole, into a new existence filled with procedures, diagnoses, doctors, tests and long medical terms you’ve never heard before. It is a diagnosis that can profoundly change your life, and the lives of those who love you. It can be frightening, confusing and isolating.
I wrote this book, in large part, to urge you to remain hopeful and to let you know that you are not alone! There are many of us who care about you and there are answers to the multitude of questions you may have. Most importantly, there are plenty of great reasons to believe that you can enjoy a long and fulfilled life, even with an advanced diagnosis. To help prove this point, I have included a number of inspiring stories in this book, many from my own patients in their own words, who have overcome astonishing physical and psychological challenges. These provide moving and sometimes amazing proof of what the human spirit can do. These are stories from people who may have been your neighbors and friends. If they can do it, you can, too.
I also wrote this book as a highly practical guide for you, providing information that will help you feel more knowledgeable and in control of your situation. As a doctor and kidney specialist and part of the University of Southern California School of Medicine for the past 35 years, I have treated thousands of patients suffering from a variety of kidney diseases. During this time I searched for books which would help my patients understand their disease by explaining the pathologies in layman’s language. I also looked for literature that explained the sometimes complex and serious psychological and emotional challenges patients often face. When I couldn’t find a book that covered both of these issues, which are so critical to my patients, I decided to write it myself. This is the result, and I hope it provides some guidance and light for you as you take your own pathway back to good health.
I have included a Primer to kidney diseases, including an understandable explanation of terms, causes, and treatments. Other chapters include a look at future treatments, including the exciting development of artificial kidneys, a how-to chapter on prevention and wellness, and vitally important chapters on renal transplantation and finally, a detailed look at the steps necessary for you to gain a kidney transplant. Also included are five chapters that explain the important role that sustained stress plays in the development of autoimmune diseases and cancer and what you can do to prevent this from happening to you.
The book also explores the all-important relationship between you and your doctor. I know how critical that relationship is for patients because for the past few years my role has been reversed – I became a patient myself when I was diagnosed with serious lung cancer.. After being on one end of the spectrum, as a doctor and surgeon for more than three decades, I suddenly found myself on what I call the ‘medical conveyor belt’ where you lose control over your own life and are moved from test to test, from procedure to procedure, in a system that can feel cold and frighteningly impersonal. It can be overwhelming and confusing and sometimes you feel more like a number than a human being. I now understand on a much deeper level what you may be going through because I’ve just gone through it myself. That experience was one of my great motivation to write this book. I have tried, in these pages, to provide the information you need to stop the conveyor belt, and gain the personalized treatment you deserve.
This book is about regaining health – your health. I wrote it to help you understand and successfully deal with your kidney disease and to help provide the hope, and the belief, that you can face whatever challenges lie ahead and live an exciting, productive and healthy life. I’ve seen it happen thousands of times before! You certainly are not alone, we are in this together.