Dialysis may sound frightening to a person who has recently been diagnosed with kidney disease. The mere mention of the word can make people nervous and conjure up feeling of dread towards the unknown specifics of the procedure and the bad reputation dialysis may have.
As we have mentioned before here in Joe Cosgrove’s blog, dialysis is a medical procedure in which the kidneys are aided with a machine that removes toxins and waste material from the blood. There are different types of dialysis treatments and they vary mostly in how frequent the patient must undergo the procedure and also the way the machine extracts and introduces liquids into the body.
As a patient who must be treated with dialysis, one of the best things you have to do in order to be prepared is to research and educate yourself in what dialysis is exactly and what you can do to help yourself make the best out of the treatment.
As it is the case with many other medical procedures, there are many misconceptions about dialysis, so we want to take this opportunity to talk about some of the most common myths surrounding dialysis and separate fact from fiction.
Going through dialysis means I will be tired all the time
One of the most common symptoms of kidney failure is that feeling of being tired and lethargic. When the body cannot efficiently remove toxins from the blood and retains fluids, it is common to feel exhausted, experience shortness of breath and loss of appetite. Patients going through dialysis treatment, report an increase in energy, improvement in appetite and the ability to breathe easier. It makes perfect sense to feel energized because dialysis is actually helping the kidneys do their job and clean the patient’s blood, so you may actually feel very well right after receiving your treatment. Having energy can help patients continue having a normal life and being able to continue working. Being able to do the things you always do, move around and work are extremely important to patient’s morale.
I have to visit the medical center everyday
Nowadays there are many options available to patients going through dialysis and some of them include home treatment. Peritoneal dialysis is the easiest way to have treatment at home but there are also options for those who are receiving hemodialysis with machines that can give you the same care at home as if you were at the medical center.
Dialysis is painful
If everything is going the way it is supposed to, dialysis treatments shouldn’t be painful and if you are experiencing pain or extreme discomfort then you should let your doctor know immediately. In the case of hemodialysis, patients who have an aversion for needles may be uncomfortable with the procedure.
The truth is, it becomes easier as you get used to the treatment and later the needles will not bother you so much. The area around the fistula does become numb over time and you can also ask for a local topical anesthetic to help you deal with the pain in the area of the injections.
Dialysis means you cannot travel anymore
This myth is something that most patients believe to be truth but it is actually quite false. Traveling while on dialysis is possible, you just need to be careful and some additional planning needs to be done. If you are a patient who receives treatment at home, then you know that most home dialysis machines are portable so you can have your supplies delivered or simply take them with you to continue your treatment while you are away. Another option for those who go a medical center to receive their dialysis, is to book appointments in advance to a hospital or medical facility located where they are traveling to and have them done on site. It is not difficult to find places where you can receive your dialysis treatment whether you are traveling within the United States or going abroad.
Treatment is complex and I have no say in what goes on
You and your doctor will always make decisions together and your input is one of the most important aspects that will make sure your treatment is successful. Remember that dialysis is just one factor in the road to get you better, so you and your medical team need to talk about your diet, your lifestyle choices and your particular needs when it comes to best taking advantage of the treatment. No two patients are alike, so you can be sure that you will always have a say on what is happening and how you want to go about your treatment. Now that being said, you must also be aware of your responsibilities as a patient, and one of them is the need to educate yourself about kidney failure, dialysis and how to find other ways to combat the disease and help your body heal.