Chronic kidney disease, at the time of this article, touches the lives of more than 1-in-7 adults. In the United States, that is about 15% of the population. In Canada, kidney disease affects about 3 million people. And, according to Kidney News Online, the impact of kidney disease is “More than 850 Million Suffer from Kidney Diseases Worldwide”.
When it comes to chronic kidney disease, we all need a little help. Not now and then, but often. The people closest to us understand there will be life changes. They understand they will need to lend a hand more often.
The big question is, “Why do we struggle so much in asking for and accepting help?”
Are we stubborn? Are we afraid of being a burden? Are we trying to keep our independence or even be too independent?
What is important is that it is not about the why.
Regardless of your why, if you need help, asking for it is the most direct and, when family is involved, loving way to get it.
If this were a work situation, to get the task completed, you would ask for assistance, wouldn’t you?
So why is it so darn hard when struggling with chronic kidney disease, when you are not feeling quite yourself, to ask for help?
We asked questions about asking for help to a number of people with a variety of challenges, not just kidney disease.
The following is a summary.
Five tips that just might help you appreciate that when you have a chronic illness, like kidney disease, it is okay to ask for help. In fact, it is expected that you should.
There is nothing wrong with being self-reliant and standing on your own two feet. The reality is life changes.
There are surprises, like chronic kidney disease, that we never ever considered. And, if you are like most of us, we never ever thought it would be ‘me’. This kind of stuff happens to other people, not me. Right
Oh, so wrong.
This time we are the other guy. And this time, we are the one who needs and will continue to need a little help.
Recognize that although unplanned, you are the one. And those closest to you realize that. They want to help when needed just like you would do if the shoe was on the other foot.
Reality tip number one, people close to you want to help. Let them. There are benefits for you and for them.
Regardless of kidney disease or whatever chronic illness you have, you can benefit others and yourself by being specific when you ask for assistance.
For example, instead of “Could you get me my pills?” be more specific, “Could you get me the pill bottle that is on the top shelf with the green label.”
Of course, if you are asking someone who has assisted you multiple times to get this specific bottle of pills, you will eventually be able to simply say, “Pill time.” with a smile. The person will know what to do.
You may want to read this again. “You can help others.”
There will likely be bad days. There will likely be times when just being by yourself is best. These will be rare.
You can help others by sharing how you feel. Keeping it bottled up is bad for you. And it is bad for those closest to you.
None of us, not one single person in this world, is a mind reader. Yet when people shut themselves off, when the people closest to them know they are sick but never know how they are feeling, that is when the mind reader syndrome kicks in.
The mind reader syndrome is when others try guessing at how you are feeling, how they can be helpful, what they can do to assist you.
When this happens, they are generally wrong. When they are wrong, it means they try to be helpful in ways that will irritate you.
This is what we learned.
You can help others prevent these misunderstandings from happening by sharing how you are feeling. It will be better for you and better for the ones who want to help.
What we learned is in the beginning when accepting an offer to help from someone close to you, or a care giver, do not assume the other person knows what you want. Give them time.
By-the-way, we also learned that when it comes to taking pills, when you ask for assistance to get them it is okay to ask the person to get you a glass of water at the same time, if one is needed.
Okay, you might be thinking, that note is sort of trivial. Here’s the point. You are in one room; the pills and water are in another. Asking the person to bring you pills and then asking for water means a second trip. It could have been done at the same time as getting the pill bottle. That is more efficient.
The other comment was by asking for both at the same time, it is not being demanding, it is being kind.
That is the biggest take away in asking for assistance. Help people who want to help you. Saving them a trip is you being helpful. This leads to our next discovery …
Sometimes people who need assistance are downright demanding. It is as if they feel it is their right to be served because they have kidney disease or perhaps something even worse.
There are many reasons for this commander attitude. Most boil down to being angry about your condition and taking that out on others. It is almost a sense of feeling that if I am suffering, I will make it miserable for them too.
Don’t be that person. But that is 100% up-to-you.
Our conversations about asking for help suggested the commander attitude is most prevalent when the person giving you assistance is being paid. Some suggested they fell into the trap of being demanding because the care giver was on contract, an employee. Since they are being paid, there is no reason to be considerate, right?
As mentioned above, it is entirely in your control how you treat people. Keep in mind, paid or unpaid, people help best, relationships flourish best, when there is mutual respect. You will get back exactly what you give out.
No ailment, not even kidney disease, comes with a sticker saying you can treat people miserably.
Are you aware that wanting to be in control actually holds you back?
Our idea of control generally comes from pre-conceived expectations. How those expectations came to be is a whole different study. But they are there, and they sort of dictate our perception to be in control of our life.
Those ingrained expectations often times hold us back from asking for assistance.
Because our North American culture has taught us that asking for help is a sign of weakness.
This truly is sad!
From birth to end-of-life, we are surrounded by people who want to help us. And, when you really think about it, we, ourselves, have an ingrained sense to help others.
This tip, although in the context of suffering from kidney disease, is really a life tip. ‘We’ is more powerful than ‘I’!
Look at it in the context of the letters. ‘I’ stands alone. ‘We’ has two letters.
You can only grow in single file on ‘I’. ‘We’ has a stronger base to build upon.
‘I’ has only one perspective. ‘We’ has a compounding perspective; they are what ‘I’ has, what the other has, and what ‘I’ and ‘We’ discover together.
Our conversations suggest when you stop focusing on ‘I’ and start engaging ‘We’, you are not giving up control; you are fostering powerful connections.
These make you stronger.
Kidney disease, like any life changing health changes the lens on how we not only see the world but see ourselves in it. Often, much too quickly, we assume the worse. In this manner, we are not doing ourselves nor those closest to us a favor.
Two important facets are that it is okay to ask for help and second there are alternatives.
In this article, we touched on the first, how to ask for help when you have chronic kidney disease or any life changing health challenge.
The second, there are alternatives, is for you to look into. You will find potentially life changing information about chronic kidney disease on this website. Click here >>>