I did indeed have dialysis today. I go to dialysis at about 6am, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. My doctor has prescribed for my treatment to last 3 hours and 30 minutes. It takes about 5 minutes to get me all hooked up and about 15 minutes for me to stop bleeding and get taped up and ready to go. I have to be stuck with two very large gauge needles (15 gauge, whereas the average size needle that is used to do regular blood work is a 21 gauge - the needle size gets bigger as the numbers get smaller). I have this Emla cream that I can put on 1 hour before dialysis to numb up the skin on top of my access. It helps a lot, most of the time. I need two needles because one takes the blood flow out of my body, sends it through the filter and picks up any medicines I am getting that day, and then it comes back in through the other needle. The needles have to be large so that the blood can flow faster. The faster the blood can go, the more times it can go through the filter, and the cleaner it gets! I used to have to be on the machine for 4 hours, but that time was reduced because I have such a great-working fistula in my left arm (that giant throbbing vein people are always staring at). The fistula is actually my vein, only it has been enlarged so that it can take the damage from the large needles. At one time, my little brother Eric believed that at dialysis they actually took ALL of my blood out of me at one time, cleaned it, and then put it back in! He came and sat with me at dialysis once, and told me this. He said he wondered how they kept me alive with no blood in me, hahaha!
My husband is great because he gets up with me at 4:40am and waits for me to wash my arm and then put on the Emla cream and then he has to wrap up my arm in cling wrap like a funny leftover. It has to be wrapped up because the cream has to be about a quarter-inch thick sitting on the skin for it to have any effect. He might be half asleep and a little cranky while this is taking place, but he does it without complaining, and that is amazing to me!
So when all is said and done, I leave the dialysis clinic at about 10 or 10:15 am. It is supposed to free up the rest of my day so that I can so to work. But there are still about two out of three days that I have to go back home and lay down to rest for at least 3 hours. It still wipes me out pretty good. The first time that I was on dialysis, I was younger, and my body hadn't been through as much stress or trauma as it has since then. So my body got used to dialysis easier and in less time. This time, in the months leading up to my 2nd kidney failure, I was sick and had to hospitalized many times. My body grew very weak during those months, and I have never regained the strength that I lost during that time. I can't do regular strength training or exercising because of my high blood pressure and also because my daily fluid intake is limited to 32 ounces of liquid per day, so I wouldn't be able to rehydrate properly. I am hoping to find some low-impact yoga or something that might help me start to rebuild my strength and balance. Hopefully this blog post answered some questions you might have had about me but were not sure how to ask. If anyone has any questions for me, please feel free to ask. I love when people ask questions about anything related to my situation, because it gives me a chance to tell them about kidney disease, dialysis, and most importantly organ donation!