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