25 life lessons from 25 years of dialysis

Personal insights from our patient

With the help of the psychologist of our NephroCare clinic in Vaslui – a small city near the border to Moldova – Nico Constantin, a 60 years old patient from Romania, wrote down 25 life lessons that he collected during 25 years of living with dialysis.


​​​​​​I was a young man when I was told that I would need dialysis for the rest of my life. It made me feel hopeless and it was really difficult for me – until I found a way to slowly accept the new situation.
That’s when I learned the lesson of acceptance and self-reconstruction.


When I had my first dialysis session in Bucharest, my wife brought me a cake. That made me realize that she is with me. Unconditionally. 
That’s when I learned how important the love and care of the family is.


When I started dialysis, I began to think about my life and about existence.
That’s when I found out that it is never too late to become a spiritual person.


In 1996, after the first dialysis sessions, I gave up my job as an electronics engineer. It was the first Christmas with much less money.
That’s when I learned that life is the most precious gift and I received it.


When I saw that people felt sorry for me, like “the poor man, he needs dialysis”, it was discouraging. I felt that people could not see beyond my illness.
That’s when I learned that I am much more than a diagnosis.


When it looked like I needed a transplant, my father wanted to give me a kidney.
That’s how I learned the lesson of family sacrifice and love.


I struggled for 10 years to get a transplant. To get the medication I needed, I even sold my house in the countryside.
That’s how I learned that health is priceless.


Just before I was supposed to get the transplantation I was diagnosed with hepatitis. It was very discouraging because I had sold the house and already bought the necessary medication. But because of the diagnosis the transplantation was cancelled.
That’s when I learned that it’s important to fight for what you want, no matter what.


For years I thought that a transplant was the only solution that could save me. But I saw another patient who received a kidney transplant, and after few months he came back to dialysis program, unfortunately. We are still dialysis colleagues and we celebrate 25 years of dialysis together. I realized that this could have happened to me as well.
That’s when I learned that things are not always as they seem to be, and that it is important to look at them from different perspectives.


After 10 years of fighting for a transplant, I went back to my work as an electronics engineer. It was a challenge, but I soon felt that this work is my ‘oxygen’, and that kidney disease is not a barrier for following my profession.
That’s how I learned to recharge my batteries with activities that I enjoy.


I used the money that I had saved for the transplantation to build a garage so I could work on electronics. This garage gave me a reason to live and it makes me feel useful.
That’s how I learned that it’s important to spend my time doing what I really enjoy, no matter how many obstacles there may be.


My fistula is 21 years old. I try to protect it as much as possible and I take care of it as much as I can.
That’s how I learned that if I take care of things, they will stay with me much longer.


I really appreciate that the nurses take care of my fistula and puncture it in different places, they help me a lot.
That’s how I learned that there can be love even at the top of my fistula needle.


25 years ago, dialysis was not as simple as it is today. At that time the number of patients who needed dialysis was bigger than the dialysis places offered by the hospitals. So many people died because of that. I can say that I was lucky to get dialysis when I needed it, even if the dialysis machines were not performing as well as they do today.
That’s how I learned that a minute of dialysis is an extra minute of life.


The biggest improvement I felt was when I received my first dialysis treatment in the new clinic.
That’s when I learned that it is important to keep up my hope, no matter how hard it may seem.


During 25 years of dialysis treatment, I have received dialysis in three different cities, some of them far away of my home. Bucharest was 350 km away, Iasi still 67 km, and to Barlad I had to drive 55 km. When I finally had the opportunity to receive dialysis treatment in my home town Vaslui, I was the happiest man in the world. It gave me a new sense of life.
That’s when I learned that things that seem like an ending sometimes actually are a new beginning.


Over time, I noticed that when I go through a difficult time, it helps me a lot to talk about it with other people, to tell others how I feel. It is a good way to improve my psychological status.
That’s how I learned to let others look inside me.


I learned a lot over the years. From the experience of other patients, from medical advice and from the dialysis support teams. Now that I am more experienced in dialysis, I try to support new patients, to encourage them and give them a piece of my trust and confidence.
That’s how I learned to give to others in return for what I received.


It is very important for me to connect with the patients from our dialysis unit. I made many friends that make my time in the dialysis clinic more pleasant. In a way, we grew up together. The relationship with one of the patients was so strong that I felt that I loved him like my own child.
That’s how I learned the lesson of sincere friendship.


Looking back I realized that I spent 25 birthdays on dialysis together with the team. We spent so many Easter times and winter holidays in our dialysis unit.
That’s how I learned to share important moments with my second family, too.


During the winter of 2001, something funny happened – my boots simply disappeared from the dialysis clinic.
That’s when I learned that when I look at an unpleasant event with humor I can turn it into a story that will bring a smile to your face.


Dialysis gave me the chance to meet people and to see many different perspectives and life stories. It is not easy to follow all of the recommendations they give me. But it is very important to have people share your learnings with, to compare to, to see what you are doing well and where you can improve.
That’s how I learned from the mistakes of others.


During all this time I received many kinds of diagnoses that required treatment and made it important to stick to a diet. But now, after years and years, my medical tests are good and that makes me happy and gives me courage.
That’s how I learned how important discipline is when you really want something.


More and more, I tried to be involved in my dialysis therapy as much as I could. I didn’t hesitate to ask for help whenever I needed it, and I followed the recommendations of the specialists.
That’s how I learned to trust the people who take care of me.


I am grateful and happy to celebrate a quarter of a century in dialysis treatment! I have so many beautiful memories and I can remember them with pleasure and nostalgia. I can say that I am a lucky man with my family around me, but also with such a dedicated care team at NephroCare Vaslui. It is a place where I feel confident, well treated, understood and loved.
That’s how I learn to be grateful for everything that life offers me.