a brief take on dialysis etc.

I began dialysis suddenly in November of 2008 after a week’s stay in hospital after seeking medical attention for the symptoms of renal failure.  I began dialysis by means of chest lines. My dialysis takes place in the mornings on Tuesdays,  Thursdays, and Saturdays.  I need to wake up between 5:30 and 6:00 AM, quickly walk my dog, take my medications, shower as best I can, dress, drive myself to the Penetang dialysis clinic (about a thirty minute drive) by 7:20 AM.  I don’t usually eat breakfast on dialysis days.  Preparations for the dialysis run take up to fifteen minutes (chest lines flushed and connected or needles inserted in left forearm fistula and lines connected to needles), 4 hours of dialysis, about fifteen to twenty minutes to finish the run, then a 30 minute drive to return home.   Sometimes during dialysis I experience painful leg cramps.  On a few occasions I have experienced uncontrollable vomiting.

On many days after dialysis I feel either moderately tired or very tired. Quite often I nap during the afternoon or go to bed very early in the evening, sometimes as early as 7:30 PM.

Each day I take medications in the morning (6 drugs) and the evening (2 drugs) and must take five 750mg calcium carbonate tablets with each meal.  I check my blood sugar twice daily.

I greatly miss being able to have a relaxing shower or bath or to go swimming since I must keep my chest lines dry at all times. I look forward to the time later this year when the chest lines will be removed and my fistula will provide access for my dialysis runs.  With my chest lines removed I will be able to shower and bathe in a relaxed and complete way and I will be able to go swimming in Georgian Bay.  I am very much looking forward to that.

My type II diabetes has caused some damage to my eyes. I have received laser corrective surgery (November 2009). I can still read books and practice photography ( a life-long interest). However I have great difficulty in focusing a camera with a manual focus lens.  My eye doctors were concerned that my vision might be close to deteriorating below the minimum correction necessary to drive a car safely, but since then I have shown some improvement.

Because of the inflexible schedule of dialysis life support, I often feel somewhat trapped or imprisoned.  I have seen job postings that I had considered myself qualified at least to some degree to apply for but found the work schedule was inflexible or were strictly full time in the normal work week range of business hours.

I often feel like my life is one long dialysis run and the rest is just a few brief breaks from that run.

The most strenuous physical activity I engage in is the lifting and carrying of four car tires on steel rims.  Spring and Fall I change from winter to summer car tires and move these tires from my car to a storage shed, about twenty yards distance.   With the fistula in my left forearm I have to be cautious in heavy lifting with this arm.  In the past I would move all four tires in one session on a single day. Now I will spread  it out over two or three days.  Too much pressure or weight on that arm can adversely affect the fistula and create a problem for the dialysis run.

I do find the restrictions of the dialysis and diabetic diets to be difficult to manage and food is no longer a joyful part of life.

From time to time I do feel somewhat depressed, and I am often irritable and snappish with my sister, my sole family member. I do find my concentration is good and I can concentrate for extended periods of time.   There are times when I feel I am almost exclusively defined by my kidney failure and my dialysis.


Author: William J. Gibson

62 year old - writer/photographer Canadian, survived open heart surgery, received kidney transplant, sometimes dour, sometimes amusing, over six feet in height, severely follicle challemged

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