A dialysis post

I wrote the following over a month ago, when I was still doing the early morning dialysis sessions. When I’m not actually at dialysis, I don’t want to think about it, and that’s why I never finished it. I just want to get this one out of the way, and then I’ll skip forward to the present.

I have been through eight dialysis treatments now. I suppose I should throw out a term I haven’t before. I’m doing hemodialysis, which involves a dialysis machine with a dialyzer, filtering your blood and taking off excess fluid via tubes inserted into an access point (for me, the AV fistula in my upper left arm). There is “home hemo”, which uses a similar process, but you do it in the comfort of your own home. Unfortunately, you need a helper at home with you, and it can be a bit of a hassle. Another home option is peritoneal dialysis, or PD. With PD, you stick a catheter in your abdomen and hook it up a bag of dialysis solution. You can do it while you sleep. However, you’ve got to be super careful about cleanliness (as anyone with a semi-permanent catheter does) and store a room’s worth of dialysis supplies in your home. I could deal with the latter, but I think the former would wind up being too stressful for me. Besides, I’d probably have to banish my pets from my bedroom.

So, anyway, I do hemodialysis at a dialysis center about ten minutes away from home. For the time being, I need to arrive there at 6AM. Depending on how late I show up, I may not get hooked up until well after 6:30, since there are four or five nurses and techs who need to get 10-15 people started. Initially, I felt like the worst part of dialysis was getting stuck. You get stuck twice, once for the blood that will leave your body and once for the blood that will flow back in. I’ve always been very queasy around getting stuck for giving blood or having an IV inserted. The needles digging into my fistula was very uncomfortable. But I’ve been getting used to it, and it has helped that I’m putting on a prescription cream to numb the area a bit.

After being stuck and the tubes are hooked up to the machine, it’s three hours and forty-five minutes of sitting or lying in a recliner.

So…I’ve been on nocturnal dialysis for three weeks now. I head over there around 9PM and get out by 6AM. It’s been very tough to get used to. I have not slept well. It’s generally been stressful. But I’m trying to fight through it, because the eight-hour treatment is supposedly better for my body. I wrote a couple of days ago about being rushed off the machine and being annoyed with the center, in general. That letter, by the way, was an exaggeration of what I actually sent. The good news is that they did make a change to better accommodate me. Last night, I got a bed in a different spot, without so many bright lights and the pressure of needing to make room for a new patient in the morning. For perhaps the first time, I actually slept pretty well. But that still means a harsh wake-up around 5:30. It will continue to take getting used to.

And I’m short on details, still, about dialysis because I don’t really want to write about it.

I’ve got so many other concerns in my life. Dialysis is probably #5 or so. And dialysis is a bitch. So that tells you something about my state of mind.


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