I have settled into the routine. Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening I get dropped off at 6pm for a 4 hour session of dialysis. At a time which varies but is usually between 10:30pm and 11:30pm I get picked up and go home to sleep.
Those of you who are mathematically minded will notice the discrepancy. The fact is that I am not usually actually starting my dialysis before 6:30pm or more often 7pm.
This is due to factors beyond my control and relate to the timings of the previous patients and the need to clean the dialysis machine between patients, which can take a while. Add to this the need to stagger patients so they don’t finish simultaneously and then the time it takes to ‘needle me’ and hook me up to the machine which takes 10-15 mins and then to remove the needles at the end which takes a similar amount of time you can see it is more likely to be closer to 5 hours or more.
Picture of needles below for those who don’t like!
The fistula is working well and thankfully was mature enough (just) to allow for dialysis when the Tesio Line became infected and needed to be removed. Even so the Fistula is still quite ‘soft’ which means it is delicate and needs very careful needling. Description below for those who like (avoid if you don’t)
The process of needling involves two needles which need to be inserted into the Fistula (vein) which has been strengthened by the Fistula operation. One needle is used to take the blood out another to return the blood from the dialysis machine
In a sense I am bleeding for four hours as the machine does it’s magic. To ensure The blood does not clot an anticoagulant (Heparin) is injected into the blood (in the machine as opposed to my arm). Similarly other medication such as Epprex which promotes the growth of red blood cells and iron (which helps feed such blood cells and prevents anaemia) is added to the machine.
The blood is filtered and returned, at the same time excess water is removed – at the moment they are removing 4L of water each session.
Whilst I was on antibiotics, after my infection, an extra half hour was added to allow this to be dripped in via one needle at the end of my dialysis session. Thankfully during this period I remained on sick leave and had sessions earlier in the day!!
I have registered for the transplant list and await confirmation of this which requires various tests most of which have been completed. In the immediate future dialysis is my only option. I am much more reluctant to do this at home now as I am concerned about what would happen when it goes wrong. This as a result of my experiences in recent months.
Generally dialysis runs smoothly but last week the machine I was on broke down and I was transferred to a second machine which Aldo broke down. Finally I was transferred to a third machine on which I did 3 hours of dialysis – I emerged after over 6 hours in the dialysis unit!!
That was probably the worse case scenario, but with fistula failure, Tesio line infection and several operations, to create and remove the above I remain cautious.
Thankfully the antibiotics did their work and the blood poisoning was removed. I am so much better but remained tired for a number of weeks. Overall I t has taken its toll on me but as time has gone on I have improved a lot. A bonus was that the antibiotics also ‘killed off’ my Covid cough, which had hung around for months.
I am currently finishing a phased return to work which basically means working mornings only. This will finish soon and it will be back to full time.