We started training at Camelback Dialysis Center in Scottsdale in July of 2007. Dialysis was a huge step for John, but when the doctor gives you no choice you take the leap. I think delaying it for 2 years was long enough. The first 3 days the nurses did the treatment to remove the excess fluid and allowed us to observe the procedures. We were given training materials and started to study. The training nurses and techs at the training center are the best. They were patient, kind, caring and took the fear out of this new adventure . . . well most of the fear. We traveled through our training knowing that the nurses were seconds away if something went wrong and that no question was too elementary. And even now, over 2 years later, we can get them on the phone 24/7 if we need to and it’s like talking to an old friend.
After a few days, I began to cannulate . . . . with much intrepidation! It is daunting to stick those big needles into flesh and thread it up the graft. The nurses made it look so easy! But like anything else, you do it a few hundred times and it’s like brushing your teeth. We went chapter by chapter through the book digesting the fundamentals of dialysis. We learned how to react to emergencies and alarms on the machine. The Nx Stage is nearly fail safe and lets you know if something is wrong. The more we learned the more fascinating it became. And the really good news – John started to feel better. He did not experience the lethargy some feel after traditional dialysis. While short-daily is neither short nor daily, it just makes sense that having treatments 5 or 6 times a week is going to make a difference. It equates out to about the same time that traditional 3 times a week dialysis does and you are in the comfort of your own home.
Much must be said about trust. John is an amazing man. He’s bright, intelligent, loving and funny . . . and trusts me with his life! I must also say that this takes intimacy to a whole new level. The old saying goes “if I can do this anyone can” . . . and it’s true. I had no medical experience at all. Just the desire and willingness to make this choice the best it can possibly be. I never let myself believe that I couldn’t do this. After six weeks we passed all of our written and oral tests and they turned us loose. The machine was sent to our home along with all of the supplies we needed. The first day at home was little intimidating. Davita sent a training nurse to give support and make sure everything was safely in place on our first run. We raised our flag and set sail! Two years later and we are still sailing. Since the maiden voyage, we have built a room on to the house that we call the clinic.
I would recommend to anyone faced with renal failure or doing incenter dialysis to consider this modality. I agree that it is not for everyone, but it is a wonderful option to self care.