I Am on Dialysis: Getting The Most Out Of Dialysis Treatment
Whether you’re new to dialysis or you’re starting to feel like a seasoned pro, sometimes treatment can throw you an emotional curveball. But staying with treatment as prescribed is important, so take time to address your feelings and get the support you need to reinvigorate your motivation.
How to stay focused for the long haul:
- Know the benefits of completing your full treatment—even stopping a few minutes early can lessen the effectiveness of dialysis and impact your health. Remember, your time on dialysis is an investment in your health.
- Play an active role in your dialysis treatment—talk to your treatment team about how you’re feeling. They’re committed to your well-being and your communication is essential.
- Plan things you enjoy—it may seem small, but giving yourself activities and events to look forward to can help make it easier to stick with dialysis. The better you feel, the more you’ll be able to enjoy what you love.
More reasons to stay for your full dialysis treatment
Getting the most out of treatment
Tips for in-center hemodialysis
Set yourself up for your best in-center hemodialysis experience:
- Commit to your dialysis schedule—3 times a week, 3–5 hours per session, plus travel time. Your nephrologist will prescribe your exact treatment routine.
- Stay for the full dialysis session—cutting your treatment short even by a few minutes can make dialysis less effective and have a negative impact on your health.
- Get support—reach out to family and friends and share how you’re doing. The more they know, the better they’ll be able to support you.
- Arrange transportation ahead of time—ask a family member, friend or care partner to drive you if you’re feeling tired after treatment.
Tips for at-home peritoneal dialysis
Set yourself up for your best at-home peritoneal dialysis experience:
- Check in with your at-home dialysis nurse—especially if you have questions or if your doctor changes your treatment or medication.
- Prioritize your health—ask your nephrologist (kidney doctor) if there are any changes you should make in your diet or exercise routine.
- Get support—update your support network on how you’re doing. The more open you are, the more comfortable your family and friends will be talking about your treatment.
- Stay on top of your supplies—make sure you have everything you need in advance and reach out to your home nurse with any questions or issues.
Tips for at-home hemodialysis
Set yourself up for your best at-home hemodialysis experience:
- Check in with your at-home dialysis nurse—even if you’ve been at it for a while, you or your care partner may have new questions or concerns.
- Support your care partner—just as your care partner is there for you, ask how he or she is doing, too.
- Stay committed to full treatment times—follow the schedule your doctor prescribes.
- Get Support — share how you’re doing with family and friends. The more they understand, the more comfortable they’ll be talking about your treatment.
- Stay on top of your supplies—make sure you have everything you need in advance. If you have questions, reach out to your home nurse.
Did you know you can switch dialysis methods?
Just because you started with one type of dialysis doesn’t mean you’re always tied to it. If your needs change and your dialysis isn’t fitting in with your lifestyle, talk to your nephrologist about switching. Many people find they need more freedom, a more flexible schedule or more social interaction. Your doctor can help you decide which dialysis option is right for you.
Surround yourself with support
Reach out to family and friends
A vital support network is essential to succeeding on dialysis. If you haven’t updated your family and friends lately on how you’re doing, take time to reach out. They want to hear about how you’re feeling—and it’s a good excuse to make plans together. Remember, staying social is important too!
"I'm a person who believes you've got to ask questions."
—Gloria, on dialysis since March 2013
Handling body image issues
Accepting physical changes
While you’re still every bit you on the inside, chronic kidney disease (CKD) and dialysis can bring about changes in your body, including skin, breath, weight or hair. You’ll also have surgical scars from the procedure to create your access site—badges of honor for what you’ve been through. Learn about what causes these body changes and what you can do to cope. Your social worker, dietitian and doctor can also be very helpful in helping you manage any body issues you may experience.
Taking part in your monthly check-ins
Are you participating in monthly check-ins with your doctor and treatment team? Your doctor and treatment team will create your personalized Care Plan and review it monthly. This plan helps your team track and analyze your test data to make sure you’re still on the optimal treatment and medication. Speaking up in these meetings gives you an opportunity to share how you’re feeling, which is essential. The more your treatment team knows about you, the more they can customize your plan and make sure your treatment is right for you.
Embracing an active life
Dialysis is undeniably time-consuming and it’s easy to sacrifice your own personal activities to make time for appointments. But staying active and productive while on dialysis is essential to thriving—and staying fulfilled.
Big benefits to being active
People who work, volunteer or stay involved in activities while on dialysis may have:
- Improved self-esteem
- Increased physical activity
- Heightened mental stimulation
- More socialization
- Continued income from employment
- Greater personal satisfaction