“Doctor, I easily feel tired after my dialysis treatment. I’ll also feel dizzy and chest tightness. What can I do about it?”
“Doctor, apart having a kidney transplant, can kidney failure be cured?”
These were questions asked by kidney patients during a gathering held by Tzu Chi Foundation (Singapore) for its dialysis programme beneficiaries. A total of 35 beneficiaries and their family members attended the gathering held at the Jing Si Hall on 30th June 2019.
During the session, many of the kidney patients asked questions in the hope of gaining a better understanding of kidney diseases. There was a consultant in renal medicine there to share about how to provide proper care for patients with dialysis fistulas and to answer questions from the audience.
After the Q & A segment, the yoga teacher from Tzu Chi Continuing Education Centre, Liw Tiam, guided everyone through some simple stretching exercises that would help kidney patients relax and soothe their discomfort, as well as strengthen their body.
“Everyone, let us open our mouths and laugh, ha ha ha……”
Liw Tiam’s sudden loud laughter surprised everyone. The energetic yoga teacher started introducing laughter yoga to the audience. This type of yoga practice not only helps to strengthen the lungs but also boost the body’s immunity. Liw Tiam encouraged everyone to open their mouths wide and laugh out loud from their “dantian”. As the kidney patients and their family members engrossed themselves in the laughter exercise, all their cares and worries seemed to have faded away……
Dietary habits is an important topic for kidney patients who are undergoing dialysis. Another speaker at the gathering, a nutritionist from the National University Hospital (NUH), said that kidney patients should avoid foods that are high in potassium and phosphorus, besides limiting their daily water intake.
She used some graphics to share about kidney diet and foods, with the hope that the patients could maintain a balanced diet while undergoing dialysis, so that they could minimize their complications and improve their quality of life.
Patients grateful for volunteers’ selfless love and care
“Who are you giving the flower in your hand to?”
“I’m giving it to a volunteer!” replied kidney patient Luo Wei Ren, who was holding a flower in his hand. “Tzu Chi has given me hope (to continue with life)!”
Luo used to be a lover of seafood but started avoiding such food for the sake of his health. After listening to the explanations and advice from the nutritionist, he decided to start watching his dietary habits so as to achieve a balanced nutrition and diet.
Despite having to undergo dialysis treatment three times a week, he never failed to turn up on the monthly Tzu Chi Recycling Day to join the volunteers in sorting recyclables for recycling. Through volunteering, he gradually got rid of his bad temper.
“The volunteers won’t despise me. They will patiently listen to me as I vent out my pain and worries, caring for me like family,” he shared, deeply moved.
Another Tzu Chi beneficiary, Razali, came to the event with his son. He stood in front of the stage to share about the care and support he received from Tzu Chi volunteers.
“When I started undergoing dialysis, I was very worried about the costs. Then, when Tzu Chi volunteers came to visit me one day, I got a fright as I wasn’t sure why members from a Buddhist organisation would visit me. But, as a Muslim, I was very touched by the care and sharing from the volunteers during their visit each month.”
After Razali started receiving subsidies from the National Kidney Foundation, he requested Tzu Chi to stop giving him dialysis assistance on his own accord. Having grown up in a poor family, he hoped that more people in need would be able to receive help and assistance.
Senior team leader of the home visit volunteers, Andrew Lim, said that there has been an increase in the number of dialysis assistance cases over the years. During their visits to the homes of the kidney patients, many volunteers discovered that the patients as well as their family members lack proper knowledge about health and nutrition. Thus, Tzu Chi Singapore hoped that this gathering event could share useful and helpful information about health and ways to improve on health with the patients.
“Besides imparting information to the kidney patients, we also hope that the volunteers’ care and love would warm their hearts,” said Lim.
Lim added that the kidney patients could interact with others with a similar condition at this event, and share their experiences with one another, so that they wouldn’t feel alone on their path. He highlighted that it is important that the patients adjust their mindsets and lifestyles. And with the volunteers’ ongoing care and support as well as encouragement for them to participate in Tzu Chi’s recycling activities and to save a little each day to help others in need, they would be able to face their challenges and setbacks with peace and acceptance, and live courageously.