Dialysis of the Day

Not very catchy - but I have noticed a rising count of "Dialysis of the Day" themes on different television shows. It's anything. CSI people announce that the alleged criminal that they have been stalking like mad men couldn't have done it because he was with his mother "at dialysis."

Even the Undercover Boss! One of the first episodes, the boss is disguised as a lowly janitor and is in tears during a lunch break while listening to the sob story of his co-worker's daily dialysis. (But note to readers - it is truly remarkable when you find someone on dialysis that actually has a day job, or night job, or some kind of job that works around the three-day-a-week dialysis stints.)

Then there was Susan from Desperate Housewives and her outrageous unlikely Lucille-Ball-Does-Dialysis routines - getting sympathy from a cop who wanted to write her a speeding ticket and instead escorted her to dialysis; the waiter at a class restaurant giving her someone else's coveted reservation because she was "on dialysis." And the totally outrageous "facts" that Susan would have dialysis for SIX HOURS, four days a week. Highly unlikely. (See my piece on her here)

Now there is Army Wives. Claudia Joy and her diabetes. I saw this one coming. I knew when she collapsed last week, that it was somehow related to her diabetes and I saw the writing on the wall. It would be about dialysis. One thing about this particular theme song. The writers have finally given some semblance of reality about dialysis. Only squeezed down into an emotional whirlwind of uber-drama and tears in less than 50 minutes. They added a touch, though, that I relate to.

I dreaded going on dialysis. It was such a big deal, and scary, scary, scary. The needles are Ha-Huge. Two of them. The scarring at the site is ugly and your clothes change - always wearing long sleeves. I just was petrified. And I kept it inside. I didn't talk about my fears. I held it in. When I finally went in to get set up for my first dialysis treatment, it happened that my nurse has the same thing I have - polycystic kidney disease. It is the most common kidney disease - and the most common disease to result in dialysis. Next to diabetes.

My nurse was taking my history and at the end, turned to me and said, "You have been on a very difficult journey." I wanted to weep with relief that someone else really understood. So, the drama on Army Wives wasn't far fetched.

It's just that those of us on dialysis want so much to lead normal lives. The "drama" is so not our reality anymore. If we are really lucky, we have day jobs. For most of us, dialysis is a routine that we simply do, without fainting, crying, weeping, gnashing our teeth. It's simply a "thing" we do and then go shopping, or gardening, or to work, or whatever we want that has nothing to do with needles, blood, nurses, kidneys. Nothing. We are normal if but for the three or four hours we are tied to a machine.

Being on dialysis is overwhelming in the moment. We have to watch what we eat (and the rule of thumb is, "If you like it, you can't have it.") We have to worry about too much Potassium. Too much Phosphorous. Too much Sodium. We have to watch our blood pressure. We have to watch our weight gain. We have to watch our liquid intake. It's just truly all-consuming. But we all walk out the door at the end of our treatment and dialysis doesn't come out with us.

So - we'll see how Claudia Joy handles this. Dialysis is NOT the dire-dark-cloud-hanging-over-your-head thing the writers keep trying to portray.

My humble opinion.

No comments: