Laugh and Sing Your Pain Away
Chronic illnesses and hospitalizations are no laughing matter, until you're living them and realize that laughter helps you get through these difficult times. Carla Ulbrich—the Singing Patient—laughed and sang her way through a stroke, kidney failure, and severe lupus. Ulbrich explains to Lori Hartwell, founder and president of the Renal Support Network (RSN) and host of RSN's bimonthly podcast KidneyTalk, how she discovered the healing and coping powers within herself.
Ulbrich has written songs about sitting in the waiting room, dealing with a collection of specialists, finding the right person to draw blood, and even seeing her butt disappear because of illness. Her positive attitude and wicked sense of humor drew the attention of Hartwell, who developed kidney disease at the age of two and has lived with it ever since. "I heard some of her songs online, and I knew instantly that she was talking to our audience and would be perfect to help us celebrate our 200th show," Hartwell says.
"As a patient, I felt that the kidney community needed an alternative way to learn about chronic kidney disease," she added. "I wanted to make KidneyTalk fun and humorous as well as educational."
RSN is a nonprofit, patient-focused, patient-run organization that provides nonmedical services to those affected by chronic kidney disease and strives to bring them hope. One way to motivate people and help them take control is to showcase guests who can share their coping tips and tricks, inspire others, and empower them to live well despite the limitations of chronic illness.
The leading causes of kidney failure are high blood pressure and diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six adults in the United States is at risk for kidney disease. Nearly 100,000 people are waiting for a kidney transplant, and 450,000 people are on dialysis. Catching kidney disease in its early stages can prevent or delay progression. A simple blood test will help determine the presence of the disease.
You can find Carla Ulbrich's KidneyTalk interview, along with a library of other shows, at RSNhope.org and on iTunes.