"Are you able to accommodate a change in your lifestyle" was the question asked of me, by my consultant, 8 years ago as my kidney's failed and dialysis loomed. I'd read about dialysis even visited the ward a couple of times as I had a close friend who dialysed there. I was prepared for the treatment, I knew about that but what caught me out was the change in lifestyle, I wasn't prepared for that and who can prepare you for that when everybody's lives are different.
55 years old with a big family and a business I had run for 25 years. I travelled a lot, all over the world and at short notice too, I loved the life and the challenges each day presented, how would I cope with the changes I was about to go through and still maintain my life. "This was going to be hard" I thought, "but keep an open mind"
I had never thought of dialyzing at home, not something I wanted to involve my family with. I wanted to dialyze in hospital, keep that life separate to my "normal" life.
I started on the evening shift, Mon, Wed and Fri and started by doing some things myself from the start. Everybody seemed to weigh themselves, do the clean up and hygiene routine, open their dialysis pack and get things ready, then in turn a nurse would insert the needles, hook me up to the machine and set the prescription. Sometimes it was quick, other times not and I began to realize the key to a quick dialysis was a prompt start but was that outside my control.
I also quickly realized some nurses cannulate better than others. At best they were brilliant but at worst…. some I didn't want to do it at all making the procedure very inconsistent. Another funny realization was a good quality dialysis begins with good needling and trouble free connection. Good needling means good blood flow and no alarms and no stoppages.
After a few months it started to dawn on me that freedom was the key. To start and finish when I wanted, have quality needling and a quality dialysis session, have control over pain, hygiene and travel and very important for me, freedom to dialyse abroad when travelling for business could all be easily achieved if I did all these things, everything that is, myself.
I discussed these things and found one nurse in particular agreed with me. She was a nurse I had confidence in and she not only agreed but was keen to train me in doing all these things myself and to a high standard. I guess it was around 2 to 3 months in to my dialysis life when I started to do all the functions myself. The improvements were obvious and immediate, the improved quality of dialysis led to an improved quality of life. Working and travelling became much easier because I was in control. Being in control led to improvements in my self-esteem. Each little bit helped improve something else etc., etc.
In my 4 years of dialysis I worked and travelled continuously. I dialised throughout Europe, Middle East, USA and Canada always controlling my own sessions and feeling the benefit of doing so. I'll always be eternally grateful to that nurse who helped me realize the best results from my dialysis years.