Improving Dialysis Quality by Greater Separation of Fistula Needles

For the last 6 months or so, I have been placing my needles on the two crests of my fistula, for ease of access and to help keep my fistula arm relatively unencumbered (so I could type and generally do things with both hands).  The total distance between the two points was a little over 6cm (2.5 in).

In the back of my mind, I wondered if this was a little too close and that maybe there was some recycling going on in the space between the needles.  That is, clean blood from the machine entering by body via the venous needle was being sucked back to the machine by the arterial needle, rather than being circulated to the rest of my body. (more…)

Dialysis: surviving and recovering from a damaged fistula

Salma from Leeds left this comment through the week:

I have just read Maya’s story and I am devastated, I really do feel for her because at this moment my dad is in the same position but thank god he has not passed away, after staying in intensive care for up to two weeks thankfully he is a little better now but still not the same as before and by the looks of it, he will never be the same again because of this blow up of his fistula, I would like some help maybe information about what is happening, me, my mum and all our family are going through such a hard time and it blew up because of the NHS staff in Leeds. If u could get back to me I would be more than grateful. Thank you. Salma (Leeds)

Here is my response: (more…)

Dialysis blow outs: what, how, why and what to do

Belinda emailed me last week asking about her blown fistula. It thought the response could be valuable information to anyone who has just started the BigD.


I just started Dialysis one week ago, this being my second week. Today something went wrong and blood was everywhere and my arm was so swollen they had to cut me out of my sweater. The nurse tech said maybe I had a clot my arm is black and blue and hurts, hopefully, it will heal before I go back Monday. My question is how do you know if it’s your arm or if it was the fault of the tech? (more…)

Getting the Needles In – Part 3

Regardless of the siting method you use, the fewer people who cannulate your fistula, the longer it is likely to last, and the less dramas you will have.

Dramas include pushing the needle in so that it scrapes along the fistula wall (painful); taping the needle in place so that it constantly scrapes on one spot the wall (painful and often slows down the flow so the machine alarms constantly); and pushing the needle right through the fistula wall so that the blood pumps directly into the flesh and muscle around the fistula (called “blowing” the fistula).  Blow outs can be painful, they require re-siting away from that area, so you’ll need another cannulation, and the extensive bruising lasts a few weeks until your body dissipates the blood (and mental anguish and irritation). (more…)