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|A Letter from Andi|
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A Letter from Andi
My name is Andi. I'm 27 years old, and I have end-stage renal disease.
I had heard terrible things about dialysis. I was lucky the first time; my mother was able to give me her kidney, and I never needed dialysis. But when I rejected, I knew I had to make a choice. (I feel I should say that the rejection was completely my fault, so don't let that scare you. If I had taken proper care of myself, I would not have rejected, but that's a whole different letter.)
There are two types of dialysis: Hemo and Peritoneal. Hemodialysis is the more common one. It cleans out the blood through a fistula inserted into the forearm. You go to the dialysis center 3 to 4 times a week for 3 or 4 hours per session. There are restrictions on the diet, and there are physical and emotional ups and downs.
Then there is Peritoneal Dialysis (PD)...another world completely. There are not so many diet restrictions. You can, after 2 weeks of training, do it overnight in your own bed, hooked up to a machine (about the size of a fax machine) which cleans out the toxins from your body while you sleep. And you feel great!
I don't want to bore you with technical details, so I'll briefly explain how it works: A small tube (catheter) is inserted into the lining around the abdominal cavity (peritoneal membrane) in a simple surgical procedure. The catheter is right along my bikini line, so I can still wear a 2-piece swimsuit. The machine goes through several cycles of filling, dwelling, and draining of the dialysate fluid during the night; this fluid cleans out the toxins and excess water from your blood by osmosis. When you wake up, you unhook and go about your day.
Because you do this every night as opposed to 3 or 4 times a week, there are no ups and downs like you get with hemodialysis. You have a 2-week training period, so you know how to do it manually (in case of power failure), then move on to the machine. It takes some getting used to (what doesn't?), and you need to follow sanitary procedures carefully. But it is SO worth it, trust me!
My kidney failure made me not want to do anything. I had dark circles under my eyes, my legs and ankles were puffy, I was tired, sick, out of breath, and felt and looked like an old lady. I've been on PD for barely 2 weeks, and I already see and feel the difference. I have energy, my skin tone is better, I'm not puffy, and I'm in a great mood all the time. PD is wonderful.
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