Monday, March 16, 2009

Peri - what dialysis?

Hands up who knows what peritoneal dialysis is? Probably only those who have had to confront renal failure have any idea. I'd never heard of it a couple of weeks ago when my wife and I went for dialysis counseling. What I did know was that Dialysis, in saving my life, was going to ruin it.

After the kidney removal op we did a last chance three month world tour on the assumption that overseas travel would out when I went on dialysis (in 2 - 5 years.) Dialysis would tie me to a hospital 3 days a week 4 hours at a time. Its actually worse than that. There is travel time to and from, waiting, setting up and recovery time. In reality I will lose three whole days a week.

This is Haemodialysis. For this to work a shunt is created in my arm by joining an artery to a vein; back pressure swells it so they they can get the twin needles in. (inlet & outlet). I started to faint just looking at the pictures. How the hell am I going to cope with that. Pass me another jelly-bean.

Then we were shown the graph of what will happen in my blood, the build up of waste and pressure which may make me feel lousy until just before dialysis. This up down cycle is not really good for me and it's worse on weekends because they only dialyse on Mon, Wed and Fri. I may well feel like shit on Monday and it will probably take longer. After a while my kidney will dry up from lack of use, I will stop peeing and have to go on a restricted fluid intake.

This was the first option presented to me. It was also the only dialysis I was aware of and to say I was not impressed is putting it succinctly. It seems to me they told about the worst option first so I would feel relieved when I heard about Peritoneal Dialysis. PD for short.

Trust me, I was incredibly relieved - no needles - do it at home - 15- 20 minutes - 4 times a day.

That last gave me pause; I knew there would be a catch. Then again three meals and supper is four lots of 15 minutes in a day. That dost not sound so bad dost it? Very few diet and fluid restrictions, less ups and downs and its portable so we can still travel. Yippee! I cant wait --- uh? Hang about, this is still serious. I'm still dying here and being kept alive by this artificial procedure.

And of course nothing is ever quite that simple. I have to be fitted with a permanent catheter ( I just knew they'd find a way to let the surgeons in on this) and I'm going to be two kilos heavier from the 2 litres of fluid I have to carry around in my abdomen, to be precise in my peritoneal cavity - the bag that holds all my organs together. I have to have a storehouse for the boxes of 2 litre bags, a work area for the exchange and I have to bloody careful.

When they told me there was a risk of infection I assumed they were talking about the exit site of the drain pipe hanging out my underdaks - where the tube meets the skin but no, the danger here is internal infection; something getting back down the tube into my PC (that's peritoneal cavity not personal computer). Apparently if I so much as drop my catheter on any surface when its uncapped I have to report it immediately and I will be given antibiotics - it's that bad.

Still it may well be worth it because once I have mastered this procedure I will be given a machine that does the whole lot overnight; plug in - go to sleep - wake up - unplug - get on with life - now we're talking the same language. Oh! and they supply the bags anywhere in the world anytime free of charge.

There is of course another even better option - Transplant
I'm looking into it.

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