Over the 13 months I’ve been dialysising I’ve had comments like must be good not to do anything other than sit there. You’ve got it easy doing nothing. And other jaw dropping stuff. These may have been said tongue in cheek, but it’s really not that easy When you are a dialysis patient.
So, I’m going to tell you the ins and outs of a typical day at dialysis. I warn you now it’s pretty boring. But stick with it. Get to the end. Remember you are only reading about it. Once you’ve read you can close this down and get on with life. This is my life. Three days a week. I can’t walk away. It’s what I have to do to survive.
I treat it like a job. It’s the only way I can get my head around it. But trust me. If you get bored or fed up with your job. Or even hate it, you can get another. I can’t. I’m stuck doing this for life.
I have to be ready by 10 am on a dialysis day. Bags ready, shoes on, coat nearby, keys in pocket. Depending on the driver, on how many he has to pick up, what route he wants to take depends on when I get picked up. It’s anytime from 10 am to latest I’ve been collected is 12. Usually it’s 10.30. I get to hospital anytime from 11.30 onwards.
Then I go to Costa for a medium latte and lunch if I need it.
Then head up to 9th floor and the unit.
My unit has 7 beds in it. 3 each side so you are opposite someone then one in a space by the door. It’s a bit like a hospital ward. The beds are just far enough so you can’t talk to a neighbour. Unless you want to shout so everyone can hear you. So once on machines it’s relatevely quiet chatting wise.
So once I’m in unit I have to wait in order of arrival for a bed and machine to be empty. Depends on what morning they’ve had depends on how long I have to wait. You also need to factor in the machine takes 45 minutes to clean itself between each session. Plus function checks which are roughly another 30 minutes.
When one becomes empty I move in. Whilst the machine is still cleaning I start getting it lined. Red bag first. Then blue bag. Then the extra saline drip. Connect to the filter and that’s ready for the function checks once machine finishes cleaning.
I make my bed at this stage.
I then take my blood pressure, my temperature and weigh myself. I need to keep an eye on how much I’m putting on between each session and how much I need to tell machine to take off.
next on my list is getting the packs ready. One to go onto the machine. One to come off. The off pack is kept on machine until after. The on pack is set up by myself on the table. As my fistula is temperamental I need to prepare both packs for either line use or fistula use. There isn’t as much equipment needed for fistula as line. In my on pack this includes 2 small syringes, 2 large syringes, 3 antiseptic wipes, 2 swab sticks, a tray, gauze, sterile gloves, two fistula needles, rubbish bag, a surgical cover, torquinet, strips of tape and 2 blunt needles.
My out pack includes surgical cover, strips of tape, gauze, 2 small syringes and 2 large syringes, plasters and citric lock. This is in a tray on top of machine.
Usually by the time I’ve done all the above the machine has stopped cleaning and ready for function tests. I connect the fluid to machine and start the pump. We call it priming the machine. One of the bags of saline goes from the red line into the blue line. Usually takes three primes to empty the saline. Whilst I’m waiting for machine to prime I programme the machine ready for dialysis. First fluid needed to be taken off during treatment, then temperature, them the speed flow. Next is the heparin dose, speed and stop time. Finally how long my treatment is. 3 and a half hours.
Once the machine is primed I connect the red and blue line together and wait for the machine to tell me it’s ready for full connection.
This is where the fun begins. I settle into my chair. It’s a large oversize recliner and I need to set the scene a bit for you. A large rectangle room. Windowless. Far enough away from neighbours. And it’s cold. So a blanket or two is needed. A recliner chair which the novelty of reclining yourself wears thin after a while.
Now grab a pillow and stick it under your predominant arm. Keep your arm straight. And don’t move it for 3.5 hours. Actually try not to move at all for the next 3.5 hours. Small movements ok, sometimes.
I then clean my fistula site with a wipe and swab. I use a blunt needle to take the scabs off. These cover my Button holes. Where the fistula needles go in. We use the same sites every session to build up a tract so I don’t have needle marks all over my arms. The area is then swabbed again before the needles are inserted.
I also forgot to mention in my chilly Windowless room the wifi and signal is virtually non existent. It’s not like I can sit back and watch a film. Both are so dodgy I can’t rely on them. I’ve given up trying. Also as it’s my perdomiment arm being used, I can’t do much else. I can’t colour or turn pages or anything. I’m having to retrain my right arm but it’s difficult. I’ve been left handed for 40 years.
Sometimes I sleep. Sometimes I don’t. I haven’t slept for last few sessions. Since fistula use I don’t feel as drained or tired.
About five minutes to go I grab the off tray and prepare that ready for end of dialysis. Once the needles are removed I sit there for about ten minutes applying pressure. If my line is used I have a nasty taste in my mouth once they’ve locked the line. Once I’m off the machine, whatever method I’ve used, blood pressure, temperature and weight is taken.
Then I strip the bed and disinfect it. Ready for the next session.
By this point it’s usually around 5. I go to the transport section ready to go home. I can wait anything up to 90 minutes before I leave. Then depending on who else is ready and the route they are taking, it can take up to 2 hours plus to get me home once on transport. A lucky day is me being home by 8.
So, there we have it. If you’ve made it this far, you now know what my dialysis day consists off lol.
Lots of love as always,