Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal Dialysis is a way to remove waste products from your blood when your kidneys can no longer do the job adequately.

A cleansing fluid flows through a tube (catheter) into part of your abdomen and filters waste products from your blood. After a prescribed period of time, the fluid with filtered waste products flows out of your abdomen and is discarded.  –Mayo Clinic

I'm sitting here alone in my room with my tubes and bags of fluids. One tube going into me and another coming out.  How did I get here?

I’ve been doing peritoneal dialysis (PD) for almost a week and half now all by myself.  By myself, without a nurse in my own home.  This is freedom right?

Three weeks after my catheter placement surgery, I began dialysis training.  

What is dialysis training, you ask? It is 3-4 hour session two to three times a week in the clinic. I learned everything from how to wash my hands to how to insert medicine into my fluid bags.  I learned the importance of cleanliness, sterilization, and the bad after effects of contamination, i.e. peritonitis. (More on this later.)

There are so many things that can go wrong with PD, but the risks outweigh the benefits. The doctors say you’ll have more flexibility and be able to live a more normal life.  I won’t have to visit a clinic four times a week for hours; I’ll just dialyze (yes, this is the proper word) while I sleep with the cycler machine.

That isn’t the case for me yet.

I am doing PD manually four times a day, every four hours.  It is exhausting.  I feel homebound.  I'm forced to plan my days around when I need to do dialysis.  The fluid exchange itself only takes about 30 minutes, but I need an hour of prep time.  

Sometimes, I have to warm up the dialysis bags or cool them down.  The fluid is stored at room temperature but it must be between 92-100 degrees before I can begin. If it is colder, the fluid hurts going in. If it is hotter, it can burn the catheter inside me.  To warm up the fluids, I put them in a cooler with a heating pad.  It’s really a balancing game.  Sometimes, the temperature won’t read above 92 degrees and other times the bag is a scorching 104 degrees. 

After a week, I’ve almost perfected the temperature game.  ALMOST.

Since starting PD at home, I've only managed to mess up once.  Contamination is a huge deal, and the other day I was careless.  I forgot to close my clamp before ending my exchange.  So when I went to disconnect fluid came pouring out of one end... Leaving a mess causing a trip to the clinic to get antibiotics and new connection set for my tube.  I was so mad at myself.

In one more week, I will get trained on the cycler which is a machine that will do the fluid exchanges for me at night while I sleep.  I'll be doing this every night until I receive a transplant.  It is the same concept as manual exchanges but condensed in to a longer time period overnight.    

I am really looking forward to it. It will be nice to plan my days around something other than manual dialysis.

To learn more about peritoneal dialysis, click here

Alysia Yamasaki