Big Bully Kidneys
Kidneys R Us
You didn’t ask but after talking with friends, I thought it would be a good idea to give you a basic easy-to-understand synopsis of kidney dialysis. First, though, you should probably prop your head up on something in case you fall asleep or go unconscious or into a coma or something. Prepare to snooze.
I am having to research my plight and decide which is the lessor of several evils.
Did you know that people whose kidneys are failing are experiencing the medical term: End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Sounds innocuous enough, doesn’t it. But wait! It says “End Stage” as in - death is knocking at your door, big guy. When your kidneys fail, you need to find some alternative to just sitting back and letting nature take its course – because nature is done with you. Those two little organs (well, in my case not so little) have powers you wouldn’t imagine. Like creating red blood cells. Boosting your energy. Filtering waste. I’m very close to having no kidney function at all. I lay awake wondering what will be the tell tale sign that THIS is it; this is the big one; this is all she wrote, kid. Will I gradually just stop peeing??? Will my guts suddenly clench like a thirsty man in the middle of a desert with absolutely not a drop of water anywhere? Will I just not wake up? What??
So – I am researching the different methods of dialysis. First – you should know that there are two types of dialysis – hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. One is through your blood – one is in your peritoneal cavity between the membrane surrounding all your organs and your skin.
There are pluses and minuses on both. So, here’s my take. With hemodialysis, you have to have a fistula prepared, which is a surgically constructed vein utilizing your own vein and it is permanent – usually in your arm. In my Dad’s case, his fistula always needed “roto rootering” or it was relocated entirely to a new site – and there are limited sites. Dad ran out of sites. Also, with hemodialysis, you get two needle sticks every time you have dialysis, three days a week. Plus, getting a shot of epogyn for your anemia (which requires a monthly blood draw). It’s just poke, poke, poke, poke.
Ummmm, that looked like a whole lot of negatives. The plus, if there is one, is that you don’t do a thing. You just go to the dialysis center and nurses and techs will be happy to poke you two or three times; ignore you if the alarms go off until your neighboring dialysis victims start really complaining; stick you AGAIN with something to deaden the pain, but not quite, and then stick you for the start of dialysis, and then for good measure repeat the whole process when you end dialysis.
With peritoneal dialysis – you have to have a tube surgically inserted in your belly, with two little bumps that act as stops so the tube will stay in place – and eventually scar tissue will form around the little bumps and seal the deal. Viola! Your newest body appendage. Yippee. The plus with peritoneal dialysis is that you can do it at home. You can take it with you and do it on trips. At work. Anywhere your little heart desires. The drawback is that you feel pregnant. You have all this dialycate (the solution used to filter your blood) and your peritoneal cavity stores it until you replace it. You feel “stretched.” The documentation also warns that you will have to deal with your “feelings about your body image.” You will look FAT. I’m short enough that I will look very round. Just give me a shove in the general direction, and I’ll just roll there. I already have issues with my body image. Sheesh. And while I’m filling up with dialycate, my kidneys are casually increasing in size all on their own. It’s like girl friends pointed out to me – wouldn’t it be nice if your kidneys were located in your boobs? Mechanic Man would probably think he died and went to Heaven.
So – either of these is a difficult choice to make. One, hemo, offers me every other day off. But at the cost of hours every other day on dialysis, plus working a full time job (because kidney patients are not considered disabled), so I go to work at 8:00, get off at 5:00, go to dialysis at 5:30, leave at 9:00 and somewhere in there I will have a normal life with Mechanic Man. Right?
Or – I can do peritoneal and have my very own recycler machine humming away at night, connected to me through my new little belly button appendage, and when I need to get up at 3:00 in the morning because I can’t sleep, I go through the 30 minute process of closing off my tube, shutting down the machine – all while sleeping romantically cuddled next to Mechanic Man.
Ugh. And all the while I am thinking – ok, now, this should be like brushing your teeth – just a mundane, routine, dull ritual. But – this is the kicker – this will be my way of life for the rest of my life or until I get a transplant.
I’m leaning toward the peritoneal dialysis. Less burden on Mechanic Man, more ME time. So, what do you think?
By the way – I have A negative blood type. Just saying.