December 20, 2019
The are many aspects of dealing with chronic kidney disease. Perhaps the most onerous part is managing the physical process of hemodialysis in a hospital unit or outpatient center. Take these steps handle visits to the dialysis center—both physically and emotionally.
- Enlist the help of a nurse. Nurses at the dialysis center are not there just to hook patients up to the machine. They are caring professionals who want to provide as much comfort as possible. Every patient should discuss what makes him or her most comfortable, which is highly subjective. Are you the kind of person who would like to be checked on frequently, or are you happier managing things mostly on your own? It might take a couple visits before you know what will best suit you.
- Bundle up. Many patients feel cold while they are in a session. Some of this is due the blood cooling as it leaves the body, even though the dialysis machine is programmed to rewarm the blood before it returns. Some of it may be related to being seated for several hours and not generating a normal level of body heat. Wear clothes that allow technicians to see your access site but provide extra warmth, especially in summertime when your outdoor clothes might not be warm enough. A warm hat can help, too.
- Bring along your favorite pastime. If you have hobby, book or other form of entertainment, session time is a good time to indulge. You might also engage with other patients by playing cards or conversing.
- Eat and drink properly. Because your kidneys can’t remove waste products from your system, you might not feel well between dialysis sessions. An important way to keep your system in balance is to follow the nutrition plan that is given to you, either from your physician team or the renal dietitian at the dialysis center. For the most part, you will have to watch your fluid intake and consumption of potassium, phosphorus and sodium. Keeping to your plan will help prevent swelling and weight gain, changes in blood pressure, or stress to the heart and lungs related to fluid buildup.
- Find a support group or counselor. Being on dialysis can cause feelings of anxiety or depression. These feelings might be related to the seriousness of the underlying disease, new limits to activities or even just having to confront needle sticks several times a week. No matter the cause, there are people who can help you. Sometimes just expressing your concerns to someone who is willing to listen—whether that is a health care provider, a fellow patient or a counselor—can bring things into perspective.
- Establish a new normal. It might take a few weeks, but get back to school or work as soon as you feel up to it; you will feel a little more in control of your life. If you have a laptop that you can bring to the center, the enforced downtime of a session can be used for homework or catching up on emails. And session time might be good planning time. For instance, if you want to travel, you can go online to find a dialysis center at your destination. Just be sure to make an appointment ahead of time. The staff at your local center might be able to help with details.
Learn more about kidney organ transplant available at Hackensack Meridian Health.
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.