So…I got a question about my dialysis treatments and what it does and how I take it. For those of you unaware of my condition, I am in what is called End Stage Renal Failure and at the time I was first diagnosed, I was basically hours from death. My kidneys actually shrank to half the normal size a kidney should be and were not working. So, a kidney transplant is needed. And until i get my transplant, I take dialysis 3 times a week to basically keep me alive. (and writing the fics y’all like)
I’ve been on it 5 years, since right before I turned 23. When you first start, you get a catheter in your chest that dangles on the outside and the end goes directly into your heart. It is temporary, until you have what’s called an “access” surgically put in. I had to have 2 catheters actually because the first one fell out one day. Catheters are not permanent, because it’s just too dangerous with it in your actual heart. (I’ve known people who have died from heart infections from the catheters) At most you keep it six weeks, then you use the arm. And it is PAINFUL, because twice, the stitches managed to, over a few weeks, work their way THROUGH my chest skin and pop loose.
I have what’s called an A/V fistula and the doctor went in and basically made a Frankenstein vein and that’s where the needles go for each treatment. (The needles were a challenge I took months to get over and cried quite a lot in dialysis )
They start with smaller needles and work up to larger ones. The one I’m holding is a 15 gauge butterfly needle. I get two of them, if I’m lucky, if they miss, I get stuck more. (An infiltration is awful, it means that the needle goes through the vein and it bleeds out into the surrounding tissues, swelling, hurting, and bruising. It’s happened to me so many times, I can’t count.)
The two needles circulate the blood through the dialysis machine (we have newer machines now that are bigger and better) to clean out the impurities and remove excess fluid. Because too much fluid can kill me actually. And it almost did once.
The dialysis treatment itself,does NOT hurt. Oh, being stuck with the needles can be unpleasant at times, but the blood circulating really isn’t painful. If it is, you should tell a nurse immediately.
Generally, treatment is kind of long. Most folks run anywhere from 2 to up to 6 hours a treatment. I run 3 hours. I started at 4 hours, 45 minutes and as time went better they lessened my time. But it just depends on the person. And I use the time to write my stories. Others watch TV or sleep.
Dialysis patients have special diets with certain foods to avoid and limit. I am just in kidney failure, others have diabetes and other illnesses to grapple with. At 28, I’m young enough to be the grandchild of most of the other patients. The oldest patient there, passed away about a week ago, he was 96. The oldest patient now is a 94 year old woman.
Death is a very real threat in dialysis. Infections and fluid overload and eating the wrong foods can harm a person. I’ve personally known so many people who have died,I have actually quit making friends in there.
Most everyone in there may be sitting, but we are all fighting and trying to live. That’s what dialysis is really, a way to help you live until you can get a transplant, if you desire it. And hopefully, mine will come soon.