Dialysis 101

Dialysis 101
Learning that you are going to have to undergo dialysis treatments can certainly be a scary thing. Chronic Kidney Disease is scary enough, but knowing that your kidneys are struggling enough to actually need the help of dialysis can make you feel like giving up. Don't give in to those feelings, though. Dialysis is certainly not the end of the world. Just knowing what to expect and how to prepare can make things feel a whole lot more manageable.

You Will Start Feeling a Lot Better

If you've been dealing with Chronic Kidney Disease for a while, you have very likely also been feeling sick for a while. It is tough on your body when your kidneys are struggling to do their jobs and that accumulated waste building up in your system can make you feel absolutely horrible. The good news is that once you begin dialysis treatments, you will start feeling a whole lot better - possibly starting with the very first treatment!

Be Prepared to Fill the Hours

Many people say that undergoing dialysis is like having a part time job. If you have treatments three times a week, with an average treatment taking around four to five hours, you can see that this adds up to a lot of hours you will need to fill.

The positive side of this is that it can give you time to do things you might not take the time to do otherwise. You can fill that time up by reading all those books you haven't had time to read, working on a new project you've been anxious to get to, or simply by catching up with some of your favorite television shows. Bring your laptop or handheld device, headphones, books, games, pens and paper, or anything else that sounds like fun.

Be Prepared to Stay Warm

One of the most common complaints dialysis patients have is that they get cold. During dialysis, your blood is literally circulating outside of your body through the filtration system and the process cools it down. Wearing a warm shirt, hat, scarf, arm warmers, and warm socks can help a lot. Bringing a favorite blanket is a great idea, as well. Many centers have blankets for their patients, but bringing your own is the best way to ensure that you won't be left sitting cold and miserable for many hours. It is very important to remember that no matter what you bring to keep yourself warm, you need to make sure that there is an opening to your access point for the medical equipment to be attached.

Preparing for Your First Dialysis

Before undergoing your first dialysis, there are steps you will have to take. Your Nephrologist will likely schedule you for a procedure to place a graft or fistula access point under your skin. You will have to fill out all the necessary paperwork and meet with your health care team. You will most likely be given a tour of the dialysis facility you will be in and your health care team will be happy to answer any questions you might have. Don't be afraid to ask - that is what they are there for.

Dialysis Begins

You will be weighed once when you arrive for dialysis and your blood pressure will be taken. Once you are comfortably sitting in your chair, you will be hooked up to two needles. The arterial needle takes your blood from your artery to the dialyzer for filtration and the venous needle returns your blood to your body. Daytime dialysis treatments typically last about four hours. During the treatment, your blood goes through the dialyzer anywhere from 15 to 20 times. Only a cup and a half of blood is outside of your body at any given time.

You should feel no pain or discomfort. If you do experience cramping, nausea, or dizziness, be sure and let someone from your health care team know about it as it could be a serious sign of dehydration or low blood pressure.

When Treatment is Done

Once all your blood has been properly filtered, any blood still remaining in the tubing and dialyzer will be flushed back into your body with a saline solution. Once you are disconnected from the machine, pressure will be applied to your access site and dressings applied to prevent bleeding. Your blood pressure and weight will be taken again before you leave. After you leave, make sure you contact the center or your doctor right away if you you have unexpected bleeding or any other feelings of discomfort that concern you.

When it comes to dialysis treatments, there are several options available. The information in this article covers the basics of a typical daytime treatment in a center for a patient going through vascular dialysis. If your doctor chooses a different form of treatment for you, your experiences will vary.

Just remember, no matter what form of dialysis treatments you have, you will feel like a pro in no time. Do your best to relax and have faith in your health care team. You're in good hands.

*Did you know there are arm warmers especially made for dialysis patients? Lovingly crocheted by hand, Dialys-Sleeves surround your arms in comfort while allowing access to your site. Go to www.Dialys-Sleeves.com to learn more.

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Symptoms of Kidney Disease

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