Dialysis: The Struggle is Real

Dialysis.

It sounds simple enough given the importance it has in the lives of patients with kidney failure. But now that I have started dialysis, I see how it becomes an outsized part of your life. I have to connect to it every night and going to the bathroom at night has just become a lot more complicated. Dialysis makes it difficult to sleep because of the noise, and I hope my kids don’t need anything during the night when my husband is out of town.

The struggle is real.

I have Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) which is an inherited disorder. In PKD, clusters of cysts develop primarily within your kidneys. The cysts vary in size and, as they accumulate more fluid, they can grow very large and cause kidney failure.

For people with kidney failure, there are two types of dialysis – peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis.

Peritoneal dialysis  (shown at the right) cleans the blood as well but that’s done inside the body. A surgeon has to place a catheter into the abdomen for access. During this type of dialysis, a special type of fluid (dialysate) is placed in the abdomen through the catheter. While the fluid is in the abdomen, extra fluid, chemicals, and wastes are drawn out of the blood vessels into the dialysate fluid in the abdomen. The abdominal fluid is then removed and thrown away. This process is done several times a day or night and can be done by the patient at home.

Hemodialysis (shown at left) uses an artificial kidney – in the form of a machine – to clean the blood removing wastes, extra chemicals, and fluids. This method requires the placement of an access into the blood vessels – typically on the arm or leg. Hemodialysis typically lasts 4 hours each time and happens 3-4 times a week.

I am currently doing peritoneal dialysis. With my medical background, understanding the process was not difficult. But the actual performance of the procedure every day is harder than I anticipated. There are risks of infections and I am still tired on a daily basis. However, your comments and well-wishes give me strength!

Now that I have started dialysis, we are looking for a living kidney donor harder than ever. While it is a big decision to donate a kidney, living donors can save lives. If you think it might be something that you are interested in, you can best help us by calling us at 770-310-2426 for info to do a 15-minute phone screening on being a living donor. You can also call the St. Luke’s Transplant Department directly to do the screening at 832-355-4100.  Just tell them your planned recipient is Dominique (Nikki) Brooks.

Be Inspired — Give Life!

Dominique (Nikki) Brooks