Welcome to DialysisLand, best described as a room full of people needing to have their blood washed and toxins removed, all in a sterile setting with the humming of machines, swooshing of nurses (who call themselves techs), and the background sound of water whirling down the drains, washing those bad toxins into the sewer system.
We patients are simply required to sit still for three and a half hours or longer, while all this scientific wonderland of activity drills past us, ticking, ticking the time down to when we get “unplugged”.
It starts with us getting “plugged in.” The tech and her co-workers go through a flurry of sanitation procedures, putting on gloves for one thing, whipping them off, putting on a new set for the next step of exposing my “access site” (direct line to my heart for all my frenemies’ handy knowledge), masks go on (on me too), something is fiddled with, gloves go off, new set goes on, more fiddling, as I divert my gaze to something benign, like the ceiling lights (because if I take my gaze anywhere else, I see other people, other machines, other techs, gloves going off, going on). So I look at the ceiling lights, while Heparin is flushed in my two access sites, then blood is drawn for lab work (first time EVER that I’m not poked), and finally my lines protruding from my access site are snapped onto lines going into the dialysis machine and the wheels start turning, my blood effortlessly leaves my body to go on its own little cruise, taking with it excess fluids, nasty toxins, and anything else I could do without.
After your “run time” is done, the tech does a reverse of the sanitation process, not as many gloves, but still the flurry of fingers, clicking through different tubes and connections, until finally you are officially unplugged. And after all that medically miraculous activity, you simply walk out the door to your car, stop at the store for groceries, and go home, as if you just spent the afternoon sitting at a spa getting your nails done.
So it isn’t all that traumatic and awful, really. I’ve dreaded this day, the official first dialysis. It does have a major impact in my life – for the rest of my life. There is a loss I can’t quite explain. And I have these two tubes hanging from my chest, making me feel very much like a Borg. And the image is only reinforced when I get hooked up. I half expected the 16 of us in the room to universally commune as one. But there is also the feeling that it is us, the Nouveau Borgs, who are being assimilated.
For days now, I have been, you know, sitting back, trying to mind my own business and not dwell on this dialysis thing. Trying to just make my life as normal as possible, cleaning the house, going to work, reading a book, watching a favorite TV show. When something innocuous will happen – the plot will turn just a bit to something sad – just a little – and I’ll sit there and tears will well up and I think, o boy, if I start crying right now, I will not ever stop. Today, at lunch, I went home and scrounged around for cold weather clothes for our bi-annual trek to Monroe, Washington and car parts heaven for Mechanic Man. I’d turned on the TV to a movie I love – Little Women – and it was right at that moment when Beth discovers that the Hummel baby just died of Scarlet Fever and she thinks she has it. WAAAAAAAAA, the tears flowed, I couldn’t stop, I cried and cried and cried.
Ok, I feel better now.