Some of my friends know that I have been struggling with failing kidneys over the past five years. My kidney function 5 years ago was 60% and it has been steadily dropping. Earlier last year, it took a dramatic drop from nearly 50% to about 10%. This was unexpected, but sadly once the degradation starts, there is very little that can be done to stop it. Medicines, that I took helped to slow down the deterioration process and I aggressively managed my diet and managed to last out the last year without needing dialysis.
Now for a little medical lesson: Kidneys are your body’s central filtration system that removes all the toxins in your body. The have little glomuleri that works to filter the flood. They remove waste such as Creatinine (created by muscle activity), Urea (by product of protein digestion), Phosphate, Potassium, Sodium as well as the maintain the overall fluid balance with the body. This waste is excreted via urine. If the waste is not removed from the blood, your body slowly becomes increasingly more toxic and your blood struggles to deliver the necessary nutrients to you cells. Your body will eventually shutdown and you will die.
In modern days, medical technology has advanced to the level where a kidney failure is treatable in the long-term and there are several options to treat this condition.
Most kidney patients will be on some form of Dialysis. There are two primary forms, although they may be not be available in all countries. Original method was Hemo Dialysis which takes the blood out of the body and runs it through a chemical filter that absorbs the toxins returning clean blood back into body. Usually this needs to be done multiple times during the week at a clinical facility. A typical sessions if about four to five hours.
The second option, the one that I have chosen, is Peritoneal Dialysis (PD). This works within your body and uses your body’s natural layer to filter the blood. This process requires a small plastic catheter to be implanted within your abdominal cavity and rests as the bottom of your peritoneum. Think of peritoneum as in inside of an eggshell that contains your digestive organs such as liver, stomach and intestines. The inside of this shell is lined with blood vessels.
The PD process works by injecting dialyzing fluid within this shell. Once the fluid is injected, it stays in your body for a certain length of time and through the process of osmosis absorbs the toxins out of your blood. After the set time, the fluid is drained from your. This process is then repeated four times over the course of 24 hours. The process can be manual or automated.
The manual process requires you to manually fill and drain every four to six hours, 4 times a day. Each cycle takes are about thirty minutes to do. The automated process, my personal choice, works overnight to do this for you.
Last night was the first night of my new daily ritual. It takes about twenty minutes of my time to setup and use. Below is the PD setup I have at home.
The PD Machine is heart of your system. This is the machine that will fill and drain the dialyzing solution into your body. The fluid bags are connected at rest on the top. There are two fluid bags, each with five litres of fluid. The drain bags for waste and connected and left at bottom. Everything is connected via a cassette tube system that contains all the necessary tubes. The usual routine is to connect the machine and set everything ready to go at tea time. Just before bed, I connect myself to the machine, press the start button and go to sleep. Simples!
Over the course of the night, the machine will fill, dwell, and drain eight litres of fluid in two hour cycles with two litres at each time. Last night, it filled 8,000 ml and removed 8646 ml, in the process removing 646 ml (little over pint) of liquid and waste.
In the morning, you disconnect yourself from the machine, drain the fluid into the toilet and dispose of the rubbish. You are now ready to go and face the day, rested, refreshed and dialyzed.
Initially, I was scared and fearful. I spent nights worrying over it. It was mainly the fear of the unknown. After doing this once with support of great nursing staff at the NHS in Portsmouth, I feel I am ready to take my life back.
Last few weeks have been really the pits in terms of my health and I looking forwards to enjoying my life again as the treatment starts making me feel better.
I am currently awaiting Kidney transplant. I am on the waiting list so now it’s a matter of time. You will hear more from me over the course of year and I chronicle this undertaking.