Life will only get you down if you focus on the negatives
61 year old Mdm Ruhaya is lovingly referred to as ‘sayang’ by the nurses here at KDF. With a characteristic twinkle in her eye and a warm chatty personality, one would not guess that she is a kidney failure patient. Mdm Ruhaya stays positive despite her illness and says that she has learnt to adapt to the hardships she faces by choosing to focus on the simple joys of everyday life. However, she acknowledges that life has been exceptionally cruel to her over the years.
At a young age she not only witnessed her parents go through a difficult breakup, she also watched her youngest sister being given away for adoption. This was due to the breakdown of her parent’s marriage and her mother could no longer afford to raise all the children together. To this day, Mdm Ruhaya has not been able to contact her sister and does not know what has happened to her sibling. However, she says that instead of focusing on the family she has lost, she focuses on the family she has gained instead. In particular, Mdm Ruhaya says that her husband whom she met at the tender age of 18 has helped her through immense difficulties throughout her life journey and is truly the definition of a soul mate. Her husband’s family has also been a great support system for her and support her by taking turn to accompany her to dialysis sessions. On top of that, Mdm Ruhaya says that being a grandmother to her 2 grandsons gives her a great sense of purpose and joy.
When asked about her struggles as an elderly patient with end stage kidney failure, she says that when she was diagnosed years ago, it was extremely confusing and the dietary restrictions have always been the hardest aspect of living with the disease. Mdm Ruhaya says she used to love cooking and sharing food with her family members and thus making changes to that aspect has been hard on her. For example, family gatherings during holidays such as Hari Raya can be difficult for dialysis patients because family members tend to offer them rich and salty food out of love. She has to stay strong and politely decline food offered to her. Her husband is always by her side reminding her about her dietary limitations and helps to keep her on track with her diet. Mdm Ruhaya also recalled how she had slipped up with regards to her nutrition years ago which resulted in her emergency admission to the hospital due to a combination of insufficient dialysis and a salty diet.
However, Mdm Ruhaya says that after many years of practice and motivation from her husband, she has adapted by seeking out new ways to enjoy family time. For example, instead of cooking tasty dishes herself and becoming fatigued, she now spends time watching tv and chatting with her family members. She focuses on what she can still do which is spend quality time with her family rather than dwell on what she cannot do such as indulging on festive goodies. ‘Life is all about perspectives, you can choose to look at the negatives or you can appreciate simple pleasures and live in the moment. There is always someone needier and in a worse off situation no matter how little you have’ says Mdm Ruhaya. With this positive mindset, she is motivated to comply with her own treatment and she also actively motivates other patients to overcome their struggles with their diet and treatments.
This optimistic outlook has kept her going despite depending on her husband’s meagre monthly income of $800 and financial aid from various organisations to make ends meet. With the help of KDF, she is able to afford thrice weekly dialysis treatments as she only has to pay about $5 per session after heavy subsidy. Mdm Ruhaya says that the thought of having to pay the full cost of dialysis would give patients like her great anxiety and skipping treatment to save cost is common and dangerous practice among low income earning dialysis patients in the past. She is so grateful to the donors that help her to stay positive and lead a vibrant life despite end stage kidney disease. Many patients feel like they are struggling alone to survive with the burden of kidney disease and knowing that there are donors who care about her their wellbeing is extremely comforting. Therefore, the gift of donation goes beyond merely providing financial support but also gives our patients here at KDF hope. Despite all the hardship in life, one can overcome them if there is ample support from peers in the community with a generous heart.
A simple act of kindness goes a long way in helping our needy patients and their families. Help them by making a donation via www.kdf.org.sg or https://www.giving.sg/kidney-dialysis-foundation today. All donations are entitled to 2.5x tax deduction and will help to subsidise their treatment costs and lighten their financial burden.