In an earlier blog I said I would let you know more about dialysis, dry weight and etc's.
Having CF and diabetes, I am checked fairly regularly for other health problems, so imagine my surprise when told there appeared to be something wrong with the 'waterworks' and perhaps I should see a kidney consultant. Opted to see one in York rather than Leeds, where I was seeing the CF consultant.
An appointment came for July 10th, 2005 and I went from knowing absolutely nothing about kidney failure to being told I would be on dialysis by the end of the year, all in the space of about 10 mins. Some registrars have a lot to learn about letting people know information about themselves in a better way!! Once I'd recovered from that shock, she invited the consultant Dr. Worth, a lovely person, to come and talk to me about the prognosis.
Fortunately, I lasted until 3rd January, 2006 before I started dialysis.
It is a huge shock to the system, both physically but also emotionally. As the weeks and then months and then years go by, you realize this is it for the rest of your life, unless you are fortunate enough to get a kidney transplant - more about that on another blog.
Initially, I felt so unwell, I just slept throughout the treatment. It did help pass the time and made it seem more bearable. As time went by, I started to feel a bit better and so didn't sleep for the treatment and started to read instead.
The realities of dialysis are as follows. A treatment lasts for 4 hours and you do this three times a week. I do Tues, Thurs and Sats. Due to financial reasons and patient numbers, it cannot be done everyday, though ideally that would be best. The treatment removes toxins and fluid from your body, which would ordinarily be done by the kidneys themselves.
When you arrive for a treatment, you first weigh yourself. This number is then subtracted from what would be considered your real weight were all things equal. The figure left is then deduced to be the amount of fluid that needs to be removed from your body during this session.
As I pass no urine, all fluid I take in, plus fluid that occurs naturally in food, is just stored in the tissues in my body - hence swollen legs, etc.
Two needles with very long tubes are inserted in the arm, into what is called a fistula - an artery joined to a vein- and blood is taken out through one needle, passed through an artificail kidney and then sent back into the body via the other needle.
Alongside the amount of fluid that you are advised that you may drink in any one day (1Ltr) you also have to follow a fairly restrictive diet. The diet is low in foods that are high in potassium and phosphate. So, for example, all dairy products are very restricted. If you have a yoghurt you can't have any other dairy product in that days' food. 200mls milk per day is allowed, but you must use this in drinks and bowls of cereal... doesn't give you much to play with!!
Foods high in potassium are coffee, chocolate, bananas, potatoes... to name but a few. Fortunately, I don't suffer with high pottasium levels, so don't have to worry about this so much. Makes you wonder what would be left to eat!!!
Will write more about the emotional side another time.