Learn how to advocate for yourself with these 3 simple tips. This post is sponsored by Med-IQ in collaboration with Duke Health to raise awareness about living kidney donation and kidney transplantation. All opinions are my own.
A few years ago I was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease. I had no idea that the condition was something that ran in my family let alone something that I would live with for the rest of my life. I was diagnosed after visiting my doctor for an annual physical. During our appointment, she had mentioned that my kidney function/filtration (or glomerular filtration rate, GFR) numbers were a little low but nothing to be concerned about and we would continue to monitor it over time. I didn’t even know what a GFR was so I asked questions during our appointment and continued to do research when I left the appointment. I learned that the higher the GFR, the better your kidneys are functioning.
After doing some research online and talking to friends and family who work in the medical industry, I decided that a GFR in the 60s when I was not even in my 30s was something that I should get a second opinion on. (Note that for a normal 30-year old, a GFR is typically in the range of 100, and when it drops to around 10, people need transplant and/or dialysis.) I trusted my gut and scheduled an appointment with a nephrologist, a kidney doctor. Trusting my gut and advocating for myself allowed me to get the proper information and create a plan of action for my condition. Had I waited and not advocated for myself, my condition could have deteriorated a lot quicker.
Advocating for yourself, especially when it comes to your health, is one of the most important things you can learn to do. Encouraging your loved ones to advocate for you is important as well. Raising awareness about considering being an organ donor is important but so is advocating for a friend or loved one who needs a kidney transplant. With a couple of simple tips, you can advocate for yourself or loved ones with ease.
Advocate For Yourself with These 3 Simple Tips
Have a solid support group
The search for a kidney donor can be long and exhausting. Having a supportive group of family and friends to keep you going and help you advocate for yourself is important. Many patients are private about their disease and are reluctant to ask for help or don’t know how to ask for help.
Know your why
Understanding what you’re advocating for will keep you going even when things get hard. Having all of the facts will help when you’re advocating for yourself or a loved one. You’ll be able to answer any questions that people may have and give them insight into what your condition is like. When things get tough or you find yourself having a difficult time advocating for yourself, remember why you’re doing it for and who you’re doing it for.
Share your story
People love to hear personal stories and are more open to helping if they feel like they can connect with you through your story. If you’re a patient in need of a kidney, don’t think of it as an “ask” but, instead, tell your story about your kidney disease, share the waiting time for a viable organ donation, and ask others to share your story. Share that end-stage renal disease is a very real problem in the Black/African American community and that although it is less common for someone who identifies as Black or African American to be a living donor, it is also harder to find deceased donor kidneys because of blood type challenges. Many African American patients are blood type B, which is a less common blood type. Get creative with spreading the word. I love that the transplant team at Duke Health offers patients a “living donor business card” to keep in their wallet or purse. They encourage patients to write their date of birth on the back of the card and hand it to anyone who expresses interest in learning more about being a living donor.
Med-IQ and Duke Health are conducting an anonymous survey (takes less than 10 minutes to complete) and would appreciate your input. Your responses will provide Med-IQ and Duke Health with important information about your experience or your loved one’s experience with kidney disease and being a kidney transplant recipient or living donor, which will help us develop future educational initiatives. Once you’ve completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 3 $75 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will be used to randomly draw the winners and notify you of your prize if you win. Click here to fill out the survey.