Hi there and welcome to the Big D and Me – a blog about overcoming the challenges of being on dialysis.
In my case, that’s Haemodialysis – pronounced “he-mo-dialysis”, though strangely enough, there are as many women as men dialysing (lame joke). Actually haemo- or hemo- comes from the Greek haima meaning ‘blood’ and dialysis is a chemistry term meaning the transfer of dissolved solids across a membrane. So, haemodialysis removes waste products from blood, acting as an artificial kidney.
It does this by sucking a stream of blood from a needle in a vein/artery (fistula) in my arm, circulating it through one side of a membrane while special dialysis fluid is circulated on the other side. Waste products (such as urea and creatinine that I used to pee away) diffuse through the membrane into the dialysis fluid and are discarded, and my now nice clean blood is pumped back into me via a second needle, near the first one.
Sounds complex, but so was staying in touch until the telephone arrived. Now, with the dialysis machine it’s pretty simple, at least once the blood leaves your body. However there are some human challenges:
- Getting the needles in
- Coming to terms with needing dialysis at all
- The time it takes for a clean (I look at it as a pee that takes a few hours)
- Eating and drinking
- Avoiding complications (jiggly legs, feeling washed out, cramps, etc)
- Keeping you brain up to par
- And a few others…
I have been on Big D for 14 years, off and on, and I’ve learned that regardless of changes in technologies or practices there are some fundamental actions that anyone can take to win back their life.
Over the next few weeks and months I’ll share these things with you. But this blog is a conversation, not a monologue. I want your comments and experience, so we normal people whose kidneys have let us down can make the Big D what it should be: a restful interlude that punctuates our normal healthy life.