I’m at the Wisconsin Dialysis center now, hooked up to this life-giving machine, a neighbor 6 feet to my right and one on the left, in a big open room. There are probably 40 chairs in here, but not all are full. Nurses and techs mill about with rolling computer stations attending to the beeping of the machines. Dialysis machines are loud, and alarms sound frequently. Mine used to alarm all the time and the tech would come over, mess with my machine, adjust the blood lines, pump saline through them, switch them around… it was stressful. The problem was the arterial pressure kept jumping around, which meant the tip of the catheter inside my artery wasn’t able to draw in the blood at a consistent rate. Maybe the line was kinked. Maybe, like a tiny vacuum, the nozzle was getting stuck to the side of the artery. All I know is that once I started taking blood thinners for the blood clot in my leg, my dialysis machine doesn’t alarm any more. For that I’m very thankful. It makes sense… water up a straw versus milkshake up a straw… much easier.
It takes a considered effort to not let the mood of the place get you down. Many of the people here are on their last leg. A few have no legs at all. Diaper changes happen regularly and the effectiveness of Lysol spray is put to the test. Drama between the staff is on full display with the open concept room. No matter how many times I tell the techs that my white blood cells are low and to please be extra careful with keeping things sanitary, they can be quite careless- opening the catheter lines and brushing the openings with something, not covering their nose with the face masks, opening saline flushes and setting them down to go get something else…
I can’t wait to get OFF dialysis!!! I know the day is coming when I will. One day I’ll be able to get this femoral line removed and be able to take a shower again and not have to sponge-bathe. One day I’ll take a bath again. But now I have to wait and persevere. It’s time to ask God to heal my kidneys. I do feel privileged to know I have the hope of getting better- unlike many of my fellow kidney-failure comrades. The one who sits to my right, an elderly man in plaid shirt and jeans had an unfortunate issue with his dialysis access line… blood spewing out onto the floor. They quickly drew the curtain between us and got him cleaned up, but I find myself wishing the curtains were sound proof. Apparently one of the machine’s clamps rattled and closed, changed the pressure in the line, and made his access spring a leak. I sure hope that doesn’t happen to me. Now I know why the chairs are 6 feet apart.
I’ve also learned that dialysis and depression usually go hand in hand. Not sure what the link between the two is exactly, but I’m feeling it. It’s been hard to care about stuff. Thankfully I’ve got a lot of resources to pull from, and I’m going for an appointment with the cancer center’s psychologist next week. Hopefully it helps.