Dialyzing Daze

Dialysis machine & chairIn order to enter my eye doctor’s office, I must walk past the entrance of the Davita dialysis facility. This triggers memories of my dialyzing days and fills every cell of my being with gratitude that I am no longer a dialysis patient. I clearly remember the beeping noises the dialysis machines made. The large chair I would occupy for hours as my blood was filtered through the machine. The ice chips and ginger ale the nurses would give me during my treatments. How I was always the youngest patient in the room. The awful cramps I would get in my legs and feet during my sessions. How Benadryl got me through many of my appointments. Most importantly, how it did the job of my two kidneys that were removed and kept me alive until I received the gift of life.

Dialysis machine

My body was battling many health issues at the time I received dialysis. I was feeble and the treatments were very hard for me. I had both kidneys removed at 18 years old and was placed on an aggressive dialysis schedule due to all of the toxins in my body. During this time, I was recovering from my bilateral nephrectomy and emergency stomach surgery. I had pancreatitis and was nourished via a picc line in my arm. Dialysis was exhausting.

Bob CogleyIn the beginning, family and friends being there during treatments was comforting and then I eventually wanted to be alone. My dialysis nurse, Bob Cogley, provided reassurance during dialysis sessions. Please read ‘A Dialysis Legacy’ to learn about Bob Cogley. Knowing I was in good hands allowed me to stay calm when the machine pulled too much water out of me or when I would have intense cramping. I knew I was safe and not alone.

A dialysis center is usually a serious and quiet atmosphere, but I do have one funny memory. I had a friend that would like to come visit me during my treatments. I was not up for visitors one particular evening. I told him several times that I wanted to be alone. I looked up from my chair and saw him standing in the hallway with a duffle bag. I instantly became angry, as he did not listen to me. After he spoke with my dialysis nurse, he came over to my area and sat down. Within a minute, I heard “Meow, meow.” Next thing I knew, he pulled a little kitten out of his bag and placed it on my lap. I can’t believe my nurse allowed this. She knew what a hard time I was having and made an exception. I was no longer angry that he visited.

Some adjustments while being a dialysis patient are fluid intake, food restrictions and the fact that you do not pee. It is hard to limit fluid intake. I learned quickly how ice cream, popsicles, ice cubes etc. melt and count as fluids. My best friend and I went out to eat one evening at a restaurant. We sat down, opened our menus and realized that meat and potatoes were our main options and neither were good choices for me to eat as a dialysis patient. The good friend that she was, she told our waiter that she had health issues that made her unable to eat at the restaurant. We then got up from our table and left.

Life on dicling on to hopealysis affects all of us differently. I believe we underestimate how well we can adapt to change and adjust accordingly. What I held onto most during those days was hope. Hope that I would no longer need that machine. Hope that I would be given a healthy kidney. Hope that I would be set free. And I was. Thanks to a kidney transplant.

Do I want to endure dialysis again? No. Is it likely that I may have to in the future? Yes. However, should I have to walk through those dialysis doors again, I’ll keep fighting and cling on to hope.

Hospital doors opening

What helped/helps comfort you during your dialysis treatments? Please share below in the comments section. 


  1. Mary Suydam

    I believe I would change eye doctors if I had to walk through a dialysis center to get to one. I was fortunate that I only had to be on dialysis for 6 months before my transplant. It saved my life, but it was an approximation of life, a life holding on until . . . I didn’t know what. I remember the center as a very sad place, and it would be hard to enter one again. The nurses and technicians were all very kind, but I thought of it as a kind of purgatory I had to go through 3 times a week in order to live. I am so grateful to my unknown donor’s family for making possible the gift of life. I now count my new birthday as the day I received my transplant. I feel I am living a miracle every day.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Mary,

      I can completely relate to your dialysis memories and share your same sentiments. I am so thankful that you received the gift of life and have new birthdays to celebrate. You are indeed living a miracle every day. Congratulations and thank you to your unknown donor’s family. Wishing you all the best!

  2. dominique

    i am surprised you couldnt pee.. i am having an issue at dilaysys pulling too much liquid when in fact i pee and i gain very little fluids. trying to let them know that since i pee and am not like the norm there to just clean my blood unless i have a fluid gain that is worthy of taking off to not have me fall back into dehydration mode. i am tired of being weak cramps raspy voice, chills etc it doesnt happen always but at times. i keep consistant with my weight gain there or dry weight but doesnt help i cant find anything that says different about those that have pkd i pee i pee i pee no other issues blood pressure under control my iron is good not on anything at all at dialysis ..please comment on this i see the head nurse at my treatment tomorrow.. thanks dominique

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Dominique,

      I did not pee because both of my PKD kidneys were removed. I am sorry that you continue to deal with these issues. I suggest that you talk to your nephrologist and your team of doctors that care for you in regards to dialysis treatments. Hopefully they can get to the bottom of this, so that you feel better and have easier and more productive dialysis treatments. Sending positive thoughts your way.

    • Nedra

      What is happening with too much fluid being removed is that your dyalysate needs to be adjusted. Problem is that these units use basic dyalysate formulas and they aren’t tweaked enough for individuals. Speak to your doctor. I was on dialysis ( transplant 16 years) and couldn’t understand why I always felt awful after a treatment. I took a dialysis technician course ( licensed and certified) and what I learned angered me. So many things done were incorrect. Please, educate yourself. If your techs can’t answer any and every question (and I’ll bet most can’t), that’s problematic.

      • Valen Keefer

        Hi Nedra,

        Thank you for sharing your knowledge and insight with Dominique and all of us. Awesome that you have had your transplant for 16 years. Congratulations!

  3. David Waddington

    Thank you for your moving comments. For a minute I was back in Dialysis in 2007. Although I deeply resented dialysis in the beginning, I came to see it as a lifeline. My fistula is my talisman reminding me constantly of the miracle of second life, first through dialysis,, then through transplant.

    • David Waddington

      Oh, I peed ok until my second kidney was removed, then nothing. Not having to pee is really pretty convenient! I went a year without any kidneys until I received my transplant.

      • Valen Keefer

        Hi David,
        Thank you for sharing and taking a walk down memory lane with us. I am so thankful you have been given a second chance at life. Wishing you all the best with your gift of life.


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