Life On Dialysis

Having not written in sometime, the perfectionist in me said to wait until January 1st, 2022 to do a fresh start. Last year started off very rocky for me. It started with a short stay at the hospital for about a week, with a respiratory infection (or so doctors say). From there 2021 was just a whirlwind honey, so I’ll post about that later but lets get into todays post!

I am a pretty private person. Unlike some others, I don’t believe in sharing a great deal of my life online. However, I have chosen to start sharing my journey through Kidney failure (ESRD or End Stage Renal Disease) and Chronic Kidney Disease.

In the beginning…2020

At the beginning of 2020, I was told that my kidney function had declined to about 12%. This meant that I was becoming very sick from the toxins that had built up in my blood. My kidneys were no longer able to do their job and as a result my body would eventually start shutting down. My nephrologist (kidney doc) had educated me on the different types of dialysis, and had me decide which type of dialysis I wanted to do so that we could act fast.

There are two types of dialysis treatments. Hemodialysis is where you normally go to a clinic to receive treatments, three to four times a week. Hemo for short, can be done at home with training as well, but it involves inserting a huge needle into what’s called a fistula. I didn’t want to fool with needles myself if I didn’t have to, so I chose what is called Peritoneal Dialysis.

Dialysate bags that I use nightly

I am able to my treatments at home, with a machine that I hook up to every night for 10 hours. It fills me with a dialysate (a solution that look like saline), the solution sits in my abdomen for about an hour and a half then the machine drains the fluid out of my body, releasing all the bad toxins and fluids that my kidneys are no longer able to remove on their own. It drains the fluid off 6 times during the night. It’s pretty much painless, although I do get abdominal cramps from time to time but nothing too painful.

So in short yes, 2020 sucked a** for so many reasons. My 2020 sucked in so many different ways. It was the year I had to have surgery to have a catheter inserted in my body for me to start dialysis. Covid came and locked everything down and it was just the beginning of this horrific nightmare called a Pandemic.

Daily Life

Aside from being hooked up to a machine from approximately 8:30pm to 6:30am every night, life on dialysis is just that. In the beginning it was hard to tackle the feelings of hopelessness, trying to get over the fact of “why me”, dealing with constant appointments the discomfort and pain. I think sometimes it is easier to deal with a health problem if you know what caused it, such as heredity or a doctor can tell you well m’am this was caused by you doing x,y,z. However in my case I haven’t had that satisfaction. Until 2016, I wasn’t aware I had any serious health issues. I had always gone to the doctor for regular check ups and all of that. But here I am now.

Often times when you have Chronic Kidney Disease it can leave you feeling fatigued, sick to your stomach, which causes you not to have an appetite, which causes weight loss, because of the toxins not being cleared from your body properly. On dialysis, I can say that I have felt better for the most part. I have energy on a regular, my appetite came back. It took me awhile to gain weight back, but I am doing it slowly.

Another thing with doing at home dialysis is you have to have some where to store your monthly supply of fluids and your other supplies. I won’t bore you and go into immense detail, but my supply closet looks something like this…

My supply closet…the second and third shelves are usually filled with dialysate bags I use 2 nightly. The very bottom row are cassettes or tubes that go to the dialysis machine I use.

I use 2 bags per night, so for my monthly shipment I get anywhere from 25- 30 boxes in one monthly delivery. So yes, home dialysis does require space and a clean area to do your treatment.

My monthly supply

I also had to go through 2 weeks of training where they show you how to do your nightly treatment and what to do in the event that you loose power and have to do what’s called a manual exchange (we won’t even get into that). You would think it’s as simple as just plugging into a machine, which I wish it was that simple but no there’s a whole process you have to go through to make sure you don’t get any infections.

Although, I’ve been on dialysis for almost two years now, I still am not used to all this. It’s a constant roller coaster.

The monthly appointments, labs, etc. Oh but did I mention another kicker…you can’t go swimming in a regular public swimming pool with chlorine because of the possibility of contracting an infection.

Yeah, so as you probably see it’s so much to this Kidney failure stuff. I am working on finding a Living Donor so that I can have a transplant soon. Click here for more info.

I could go on, but that’s just a snap shot of my life on dialysis. If you’d like to find out more about my experiences and a bit about how I found out I had Kidney failure be sure to read my previous blog post “Why I empathize with Chadwick.

Until next Friday…

Published by Nicole Alicia

Nicole Alicia is a fiction writer and blogger from Kansas City, Missouri. You can find her debut novel "Drama University" on Amazon.com!

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