One of the (many) fears I had about going onto the Big D was that I would become a dullard (or perhaps a greater dullard; all things are relative). Back in 1995, my Doctor John Dawborn warned me that after kidney failure, I would have extra toxins on my bloodstream, reduced oxygen levels to the brain and a more sedentary lifestyle (due to feeling less well), all of which could slow me down mentally, so that I may not be able to finish The Age newspaper’s crossword.
I didn’t like this news at all, especially since I struggled with the crossword already.
However, during the first few years on the Big D, working with John, who is a creative and innovative individual, I found that there were four things I could do to hang on to my meagre allowance of grey matter. Here they are, in order of importance and effect:
- Shorter, More Frequent Big D
- Physical Exercise
- Mental exercise
- Substances, both legal and iffy.
1. Shorter, More Frequent Big D
I started on the Big D three times a week, five hours per time. This certainly delivered all the expected bad effects; it was a week-long rollercoaster with three big climbs and three steep falls. Monday, after a five-hour Big D session extracting excess fluid and concentrated toxins I felt weak and washed out, and pretty well lost the remainder of the day resting and recovering. The next day I felt fine for a while, until the fluid and toxins built up again. Wednesday, extract, Thursday build up; Friday extract, weekend build up; Monday begin ride again.
In 1996, John had read of experience where shorter, more frequent dialysis tended to smooth out the rollercoaster and make life more liveable. So as a trial, I was the first in my street to move from three 5-hour sessions, to five 3-hour sessions (with Friday and Sunday off). What a difference! I have never and will never return to the big dipper!
Each session is shorter, which makes work a practical option, and since I’m there almost every day, toxins and fluid have less time to build up, so there are less to remove, so less impact on my body, and I feel fine when I come off. The rest of each day is mine, and both my mind and body are up and running.
As an additional benefit, because I go most days (five out of seven days) I have an almost unrestricted diet.
I know that five-weekly sessions are not always economically possible, but if you have private insurance, or you dialyse at home, or you can also go to the Big D under an assumed name, go for it.
Once you have tamed the rollercoaster, you are ready and able to understand the secrets of Step 2 – Physical Exercise, the subject of my next post.