Dialysis is a medical procedure that is cloaked in more mysterie than Bigfoot and Amelia Earhart. It’s a process that has been around extended lives for many years, but yet not much is known about what really happens behind the doors of a dialysis ficilty.
I am not an expert but I will do my best explain what I see from my viewpoint.
My technician getting my machine for my dialysis session.
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 5:45am, I will sitting in my “chair” at my dialysis center in Arlington, just a few minutes from my house. It’s as true and easy too predict as the mail. The only day it’s the center closed is Christmas. Rain, sleet or snow it does not matter because most all centers have backup power to make sure treatments get done. The treatments have to get done because life and death are depending on it.
Simply put, when kidneys can not longer function the chances are high you will need Dialysis to do the job for you. My kidney failure is being cause my cancer, Multiple Myeloma. Without dialysis I would die. There is no other way around it.
When your kidneys fail, dialysis keeps your body in balance:
- removing waste, salt and extra water to prevent them from building up in the body
- keeping a safe level of certain chemicals in your blood, such as potassium, sodium and bicarbonate
- helping to control blood pressure
There are many dialysis centers to chose from. Most major hospitals will also house a center treatment, if fact the unit at UT Southwestern in Dallas saved my life because I needed immediate treatment due to toxins in my body that I could not get rid on my own and it was dialysis to the rescue!
There are many dialysis centers to consider, and in my search location was very important because a dialysis treatment is described as going as an equivalent as a 10k race an so you don’t want a long drive after a secession. After trying a few locations I cloose a center operated by American Renal Associates and it’s been a wise choice.
I have found the people who work the centers to be, as a whole, good people and professional at what that they do. They really care about you a patient and a person. I have never run across an employee I felt shouldn’t we working there and that makes for a good atmosphere for everyone.
The center I has a about 25 beds, give or take, and they are all pretty much in use at most times. There are about 7 or 8 technicians who are very quick to respond when you need them, of if one of the mechines sounds an altert that it needs attention for some reason. There are also 1 to 2 full full time Registered Nurse’s on duty at all times and they serves as “the boss”. The center also a has still a social worker and dietitian on staff and I have found them very useful.
A least once a week you can expect a visit from your doctor, who works for the center. A doctor who specializes in kidneys is called a Nephrologist wich comes term comes from the Greek word “nephros”, which means kidney or renal and “ologist” refers to someone who studies.
So let’s try and explain, in simple terms for me and you too, the Dialysis flow. I arrive at roughly 5:45am and, and after having no my weight and temperature taken I head to my chair, which is assigned and always the same. I’m greeted by a technician who takes and records my temperature and weighted. The weight is critical because it determines how fluid the machine will “take off” this session.
I walk to my chair where I will be greeted by my technician to for this treatment, which will likely change from one session to another. Once settled in the chair the procedure of hooking me up to the machine will begin, starting by a blood pressure reading, both sitting and standing. The technician then begins hooking me up to the machine, based on which way access to my blood is used. It’s either going to be a chest catheter or what called a fistula, wich is what I have as the point of dialysis access.
The fistula is an ugly looking divice which I had surgically installed back in March. I hate the look of it but I love how easy it makes the Dialysis process run smoothly. Above is an image of a fistula like in this one my arm, with the entry and exit needles inserted and ready to begin the Dialysis process.
My arm ready to go for dialysis.
The only part of the entire dialysis process that involves pain is when those needles are inserted, and the technicians know that and are very careful to make it as painless as possible. I’ve never found to be worse than a routine needle insertion.
The technician will next go through the process of actually connecting you to the machine, which I don’t know much about about but apparently is nothing more than flipping a few switches. At that point the the clock is running.
At that point is comes down to how well you can manage the clock, which is clearly visible from any sport in the room and serves at constant how much time you have remaining in your session. Most all people are hooked up to the machine for four hours and the is no way to cheat on the time. It is what it us and I’ve found the best thing to do I’d simply occupy your self and ignore the ticking clock.
All the chairs come with a TV with enough channels to entertain you, though there not a lot of real popular choices at 6am, I still manage to find something to watch if I choose to. Sleeping? There are times that I sleep I do find it’s difficult to truly sleep with a room full of people. The chairers also equipped heateted, a very important feature because dialysis treatment tends to make you cold, and seats recline three what to help with comfort. I read, I write, and I talk to the technicians to help pass time too.
Me looking as relaxed as possible during a recent dialysis treatment.
Finally the machine alarms signaling your time is up! Your technician will begin removing from the machine which will take about ten minutes. They will remove the two needless from your arm and will and will badge it. A final bood pressure reading is taken from a sitting and standing positions. The technician will escort you the the weight where a final weight and temperature are taken. If all checks out, you are sent along your way, until the next time.