What is Dialysis Like?

WP_20151107_001[1] I report to the dialysis clinic at about 5:45 in the morning, three times a week. This is usually my station.




And here, you can see that I’m hooked up and having my blood cleansed and excess fluids removed.




The dialysis itself takes three hours and forty-five minutes. When you include hook-up, take-off and other waiting time, the whole process takes about five hours. During my time on the machine, my entire volume of blood will be cycled through those tubes over twenty times. It is not unusual for the process to remove nine to ten pounds of fluid.

Keep in mind that this procedure is attempting to do in about twelve hours a week what my healthy kidneys would accomplish in 168 hours in that same week. This is hard on the body. In order to have access to my circulatory system, I underwent an operation to have a fistula created in my arm. This fistula allows the technician a place to insert two fifteen gauge needles so that the blood can be drawn and replaced.

Dialysis was pioneered in the 1920’s, but did not start to spread until the 1960’s. My understanding is that it is a much more efficient and a less painful process even than it was a generation ago. Before dialysis, people with kidney failure simply died while drowning in their own fluids. Yes, it’s somewhat gruesome and I hate it three times a week. However, when you consider the alternative, you can understand that I’ve never missed a treatment in over three years.

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