Saturday, July 30, 2005

A Successful First Week

I was released from the hospital Friday afternoon after four successful dialysis treatments. They have set me up at an outpatient dialysis clinic for the Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday afternoon (about 4:30) shift. The clinic is about ten minutes from my apartment and about ten or fifteen minutes away from work. Hopefully I'll be able to go back to work soon. Being home all summer is not as great as you might think (especially when you spend all of that time in the hospital).

I had four dialysis treatments in the hospital. They started with a short, two-hour treatment on Tuesday and worked up to a 3 1/2 hour treatment on Friday. My fistula is still new, so they are using 17-gauge needles (which I am told is the smaller of the two sizes). The are also filtering my blood at a rate of about 300 cc/min, and the normal rate is at least 400 cc/min. Since I still have one kidney that sort-of functions, the doctors are not too worried about running me at a slower rate for a couple of weeks until my fistula has gotten large enough to support larger needles and a faster flow.

I am receiving what is known as HEMODIALYSIS. This means that my blood is being filtered outside my body, much in the same way that the kidneys filter your blood inside your body. The blood comes out of my fistula and goes into the dialysis machine. The blood flows through a semi-permeable membrane (like the kidney) which helps clean impurities out of the blood. The chemical balance that your body requires is fixed, and excess fluid is removed from the body. Since my kidneys would normally remove excess fluid and any waste for me, and my kidney no longer does this successfully, I will have to have dialysis three times a week for four hours at a time until I receive a kidney transplant.

The good news is that I am finally starting to feel better. It seems like I have been sick all summer, and for the first time in a couple of months, I can go all day without feeling like I need to vomit. I am hoping that I will continue to feel better as the dialysis helps lower the overall toxin levels in my body and brings me back down to a more normal level. I'll have to let you know how dialysis goes on Tuesday.
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