Dialysis

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Will you gimme a little vote?

Ok, so I usually skip the voting on other sites that have annoying "VOTE FOR ME" pop-ups.  But since I won't force you to endure those annoying things, will you please vote for me for "Best Health Blog"?  Its not so much that I want to win, but I'd like to put my blog out there and find more people in common with those who read MyKidney.com. Consider also leaving a comment on the voting site if you decide to vote for me :)  THANK YOU!

I'm the same as you, even though you don't know it.

I don't want to say I've lived a "hard" life, because I really haven't. I grew up on my family's farm on the Plains of Colorado, I had a lot of freedom to go where I wanted without fear, my family was dead-center middle class (for the area, at least) and my parents are still married after 42 years.

I also don't want your pity: While my family life was somewhat normal (albeit the usual teenage angst) my individual life has not been easy. Not at all.

It started sometime around the time I was 14 years old. My life completely changed more than it ever had - I had no luxury of feeling "invincible" like so many teens do, instead I was told I had an incurable, untreatable (as in no known proven treatment) disease of my kidneys that would, from that point forward, never leave my life. In fact, it will probably end my life someday and it has certainly changed my life in more ways than I ever expected.

I've always taken on this kidney thing with as much positive force I could muster. I've faced it head-on an accepted it as the "cards I was dealt in life" Years and years of talking to others, advocating, publicly speaking about my experiences, encouraging, offering words of assurance and comfort, blogging and telling people "you make your own happiness" has made me into a fraud.

But no one knows. They all think I'm great and positive and so very informed and wise "for my age"...

... but they don't know what REALLY happens behind closed doors, away from faces looking to me for "wise words" while bloggers read every word and wait for my positive return comment. They don't ever see me at home, feeling angry, frustrated, depressed or needy. They don't see me struggle with parenting, doing house chores, keeping up with my relationship with My (wonderful) Ken. They don't see the pill-popping, craze of constant pain from recent surgery and how I have to have people help me with even the simplest things like STANDING UP. They NEVER see my other medical struggles with constant insomnia, chronic fatigue, genetically-gifted headaches, and irritatingly, annoying extra sensitive skin. They don't see the fact that I don't like to eat, or that its how I control my stress. In fact, they don't see ANY stress in my life.

NO, instead they think I'm the bright happy positive ADVOCATE all the time. I handle my kidney disease perfectly. I'm informed. I'm motivated. I'm educated. I give advice because I've "been there done that". Yes, I'm the universal advocate for all things KIDNEY.
Advocate?! I think I'm the very essence of the exact opposite of what I 'preach' on a daily basis. I really don't give a damn if I "help others" or "give them inspiration". I get many compliments, private emails and comments on my blog and I act nice, play the game - all the time being mad at myself for not TRULY opening up and sharing the realities of my life. I can't admit all those things, what would people think? They'd think I'm just like them or maybe now that I must be world's biggest disappointment.

I AM lost in life - lost between two realities I've created for myself. There's the public me and the private me. The private me is ugly and flawed and doesn't care, while the public me does a damn good job of covering things up, and being that "inspiration".

I guess the reality is this: I'm the same as you, THE SAME, I've just found my voice and relied on my positive attributes to get me through. I never started out to change anyone or be a hero, it just sort of happened... and then I felt I had to keep up appearances so I wouldn't disappoint anyone. Even though I'm the same as you, I've placed unreachable standards upon myself that NO ONE could ever live up to.

Why do you listen to me? I feel the exact same way that you do, I'm just really good at faking it. I'm so sorry. Forgive me, please?

Hemodialysis vs. Peritoneal Dialysis - 1 of 3

I was recently asked by a reader of this blog:

"I have been so focused on [my] AV Fistula that I did not think much about Peritoneal Dialysis. I have a great wife and son so I want to be able to keep my job as long as possible. It seems like PD would give me a lot more freedom to do that. Any thoughts on HD vs. PD?"

 

This is indeed an important question to ask one's self when one is nearing the stage of needing a form of kidney replacement therapy to sustain one's life. In this article I will list my personal views about hemodialysis (HD) vs. peritoneal dialysis (PD). I will share with you some facts about both, as well as my opinions on why I chose the modality I did.

 

Lets start with the easy stuff: Here are some facts about HD and PD:

 

Dialysis is defined as: "A medical procedure to remove wastes and additional fluid from the blood after the kidneys have stopped functioning." There are two types of dialysis:

 

Hemodialysis is defined as: "A mechanical procedure used to remove toxins and waste from the blood. Blood is removed from an artery, purified by a machine, and returned to the body."

 

Peritoneal dialysis is defined as: "A method of dialysis in which fluids are pumped into the abdomen resulting in the removal of wastes from the blood."

 

How Hemodialysis Works (NKUDIC)

In hemodialysis, your blood is allowed to flow, a few ounces at a time, through a special filter that removes wastes and extra fluids. The clean blood is then returned to your body. Removing the harmful wastes and extra salt and fluids helps control your blood pressure and keep the proper balance of chemicals like potassium and sodium in your body.

One of the biggest adjustments you must make when you start hemodialysis treatments is following a strict schedule. Most patients go to a clinic—a dialysis center—three times a week for 3 to 5 or more hours each visit. For example, you may be on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule or a Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday schedule. You may be asked to choose a morning, afternoon, or evening shift, depending on availability and capacity at the dialysis unit. Your dialysis center will explain your options for scheduling regular treatments.

Researchers are exploring whether shorter daily sessions, or longer sessions performed overnight while the patient sleeps, are more effective in removing wastes. Newer dialysis machines make these alternatives more practical with home dialysis. But the Federal Government has not yet established a policy to pay for more than three hemodialysis sessions a week.

Illustration of a dialyzer.

Several centers around the country teach people how to perform their own hemodialysis treatments at home. A family member or friend who will be your helper must also take the training, which usually takes at least 4 to 6 weeks. Home dialysis gives you more flexibility in your dialysis schedule. With home hemodialysis, the time for each session and the number of sessions per week may vary, but you must maintain a regular schedule by giving yourself dialysis treatments as often as you would receive them in a dialysis unit.

 

 

How PD Works (NKUDIC)

In PD, a soft tube called a catheter is used to fill your abdomen with a cleansing liquid called dialysis solution. The walls of your abdominal cavity are lined with a membrane called the peritoneum, which allows waste products and extra fluid to pass from your blood into the dialysis solution. The solution contains a sugar called dextrose that will pull wastes and extra fluid into the abdominal cavity. These wastes and fluid then leave your body when the dialysis solution is drained. The used solution, containing wastes and extra fluid, is then thrown away. The process of draining and filling is called an exchange and takes about 30 to 40 minutes. The period the dialysis solution is in your abdomen is called the dwell time. A typical schedule calls for four exchanges a day, each with a dwell time of 4 to 6 hours. Different types of PD have different schedules of daily exchanges.

One form of PD, continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD), doesn’t require a machine. As the word ambulatory suggests, you can walk around with the dialysis solution in your abdomen. Another form of PD, continuous cycler-assisted peritoneal dialysis (CCPD), requires a machine called a cycler to fill and drain your abdomen, usually while you sleep. CCPD is also sometimes called automated peritoneal dialysis (APD).

 

In the next segment, I will discuss the differences of each modality, the pros and cons and the things one should consider when the time for dialysis nears.

 

Other resources:

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC)

American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP)

Kidney School

How Dialysis Works (Animation) from DaVita.com

Be positive! Its ONLY dialysis!

Tagged:  

There are basically two ways one can approach dialysis: the "one foot in the grave" attitude, or the "its not going to stop me" attitude.

Personally, I'm the "its not going to stop me" poster-child.

I was a hemodialysis patient for three and a half years before my transplant.  I've always tried to live my life to the fullest and not let ANYTHING (kidney failure, or anything else) stop me from being ME.

As a dialysis patient I: traveled frequently to many places (by plane); was a mom to a young school-aged child; participated in advocacy and patient support groups; lobbied on Capitol Hill and spoke with over 30 Congressmen and Women about changes to Medicare pertaining to ESRD patients; was invited (and accepted) to speak at several public events; wrote articles for a kidney-related magazine; did a national television news spot about anemia and kidney disease; created my own blog to share my story (www.mykidney.com) and became very active within my dialysis center as a "patient advocate" while becoming friends with many other dialysis patients.

Of course I also did all the other every-day things a 'normal' person would do, too... you know, like laundry, house keeping, keeping up with my child's school activities, taking care of my three dogs, etc. etc.  Did I mention I also got engaged in Las Vegas?

No one who has experienced dialysis will tell you it's a party.  It's not.  But it certainly doesn't have to stop one from living one's life... to the FULLEST.  Its all about attitude.

You make your own happiness, after all :)

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