I am now a full two weeks into my new life as a haemodialysis patient, and all is still going better than expected. As my kidney, Steve, is still functioning quite well, I am yet to have to stick to a fluid restriction – although I have begun to restrict myself a little between treatments – and my diet remains unchanged. I think I’m starting to retrain myself on how to be a dialysis patient. Each time I go up to the toilet, I quickly jump on the scales to check that I’m not taking on too much fluid, and also if I can allow myself a cup of tea. I’ve started to keep a record of each dialysis session on my MacBook; my pre and post treatment weight, blood pressure, litres of blood processed and blood pump speed of the machine. I don’t really know why I’ve started to do this, as the unit keeps a record of each treatment anyway. I suppose it’s all part of me taking ownership and responsibility of my treatment. I know I’m in the best possible hands at the Norfolk & Norwich, I just feel safer in the knowledge that I’m keeping an eye on my treatment too. And I can look back and see how I’ve been getting on in the months to come.
My dialysis hasn’t been completely without complication. During my treatment on Sat 31st March, I began experiencing what felt like heart palpitations and it felt like my heart was trying to beat through my chest. The renal nurses called the on-call doctor who requested an ECG, which listens to your heart and traces your heartbeat. It turns out it was nothing to worry about, and it may be that I’ve just been drinking too much caffeine, more than likely Red Bull. It is quite common for dialysis patients to experience what feels like an extra heartbeat as a result of the levels of some metals in the blood reacting with each other. This is easily fixed; by altering some of the settings on the dialysis machine and by cutting back on caffeine drinks. I also had to wear a monitor for 24 hours, but once I began cutting out Red Bulls, the palpitations soon stopped. That has been the only complication I’ve encountered so far, I’ve not even had so much as a sniff of cramp, which I have seen my fellow patients experience while on the machine.
All in all, it’s going very well. I’ve slipped back into dialysis life quite easily so far, and apart from feeling tired in the afternoon and evenings after dialysis, the side effects have been minimal. Long may it continue.