So I have realised that I am telling quite a few people I am on Peritoneal Dialysis or just dialysis but I have also realised most people don’t have a clue what it actually means! What is Peritoneal Dialysis? I guess its not something that the majority of people come in contact with everyday, especially my friends and colleagues who are all relatively young and healthy. Therefore on this post I will endeavour to explain what Peritoneal Dialysis is and why one would have to do it.
What is Peritoneal Dialysis?
“Peritoneal dialysis is a treatment for kidney failure that uses the lining of your abdomen, or belly, to filter your blood inside your body. Doctors call this lining the peritoneum. A doctor will place a soft tube, called a catheter, in your belly a few weeks before you start treatment.” – NIH’s page on Peritoneal Dialysis I’ll be honest with you… when I was first told I was going on Peritoneal Dialysis I was super depressed. I was thinking that this would be the end of my life as I knew it and that I would be really restricted in everything I could do. I was very resistant to having the operation because I saw it as failure somehow on my behalf. I had had a kidney transplant for 14 years or so and fully accepting that it had failed was an extremely hard thing for me to do mentally.
“Peritoneal dialysis is a treatment for kidney failure that uses the lining of your abdomen, or belly, to filter your blood inside your body.
However in the end I had the operation and the tube was inserted into my abdomen. But I was pleasantly surprised by the results. For the last couple of years of my kidney I had been feeling extremely tired and overloaded with fluid retention. I didn’t really have a clue about the full effects this was having on me both physically and psychologically. Once the dialysis treatment started I instantly started feeling better. The fluid retention went away, my blood pressure dropped and my energy levels went up. I was really super surprised by this.
What does Peritoneal Dialysis mean on a day to day basis?
The bare truth is that being on Peritoneal Dialysis means being either attached to a Cycler machine for between 8 – 10 hours a day or doing 4 (or so) exchanges manually everyday. Obviously not the greatest choices in the world but trust me it could be much worse. When I was on P.D. before I was doing manual exchanges but this was only for a few months. This time I am using the Cycler machine and it is much better in my opinion. Basically I set up the machine in the evening with the dialysis fluid, which takes about 20 minutes, and then I attach just before I go to bed. I generally sleep pretty well even though I am attached to this machine. It is quite quiet and the tube really isn’t too much of a nuisance when sleeping. Occasionally I lie on the tube and when this happens the machine starts beeping. Therefore I just shift my body weight to free the tube and the machine starts functioning again. Do I trust this machine? With my life. Checkout my post here about relying on machines.
The bare truth is that being on Peritoneal Dialysis means being attached to a Cycler machine for between 8 – 10 hours a day…
Pros of Peritoneal Dialysis
So you may be wondering what are the benefits of being on P.D. Here is my list:
– Gives you independence
– Gives you a routine that you can rely on
– If you have a Cycler machine you can do it overnight so your days are fairly normal
– Personally I got my energy back and felt much better since going on P.D.
– No stress or worries about a transplant failing. You rely on a machine and you know it will do its job. (Hopefully!)
Cons of being on Peritoneal Dialysis
Of course it isn’t all a bag of roses being on P.D. Here are some of the downsides:
– Seems to be regular complications – infections etc
– Painful operation
– You have a bloody tube in your abdomen for God’s sake!!
– Restricted to the type of physical activities you can do. For example I can’t really go climbing or swimming.
– Attached to a machine everynight – restricts holidays and spontaneous actitvites
All in all I wouldn’t say it’s great to be on P.D. but at the same time it could be much worse. Once you get into a routine it is manageable. Depending on how much you have going on in your life you may need to make some adjustments but as my Doctor once said – “You are on dialysis to survive, you have a transplant to live”. In many ways I think this is true but I also think you can live quite well nowadays on dialysis. If I was in the same situation 100 years ago I would be dead and that’s something I have to keep reminding myself. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave it in the section below.
Peace to all and long may your kidneys be healthy! 🙂