Dialysis is starting to catch up on me now. Just over a month into resuming treatment and it’s beginning to hit home that this is something I have to do, three times a week, every week, just to live my life. As if the cruelty of being forced to sit connected to a haemodialysis machine while I watch the rest of the world go about it’s business through streaky hospital windows isn’t enough, some of the side effects of the treatment are just starting to rear their ugly heads once more.
Following my session on Saturday (April 21st) I felt truly washed out, for the first time since I started again. It’s difficult to put into words exactly how that feels to someone who hasn’t had dialysis, but I’ll try..
First and foremost, my eyes seemed to take a couple of seconds to catch up with the direction my head was pointing, and if i turned my head too quickly a dull ache would soon rain down across the top of my head and over my eyes. I described this to Hollie as a ‘Renal headache’, as I’ve only ever felt it post-dialysis. Paracetamol doesn’t seem to shift it. My body seemed to complain about every movement I made, most probably because I was forcing it to actually move again after four hours of being still. I felt like my blood was surging around my body – it wasn’t, my pulse and blood pressure were both fine, but it felt as if it was in a rush. This made me feel restless but every time I moved an ache would shoot through my head and I’d have to just stay still, eyes closed, until it calmed down. And then, albeit to a lesser extent, muscle cramps would occur, a result of excess fluid being removed from my body during treatment.
Thankfully these side effects only tend to occur for a couple of hours and they are a part of dialysis that I was expecting, but also dreading. Dialysis itself may only last for four hours a time, but thinking about it never stops. I’ve mentioned before that I have found the fluid restriction the toughest part of haemodialysis in the past and that hasn’t changed this time around. I’m forever calculating how much I’ve had to drink, estimating how much fluid a glass or mug holds and trying to work out if I’m ‘allowed’ to have something to drink. And the more I tell myself ‘No’, the more my mouth feels like a desert.
As the days, weeks and treatments pass I am increasingly grateful for the five and a half years I had my working transplant for, and for all I did while I had it. The freedom from just not having to sit on machine, without taking into account the diet, fluid restriction and the side effects I’ve started to mention above, is priceless. I’ve heard people say that transplants save lives, and while that may be true I like to think of it more that they give life back to the recipients. If you’re reading this and you are not registered as an organ donor, then ask yourself why. I’ve experienced kidney problems for 13 years, and I am yet to hear a convincing argument against organ donation.
**To sign up to the donor register, click here.**