Learning To Thrive On Dialysis
What can you do to get the most out of your dialysis experience?
- Follow your dialysis treatment schedule—and take your medications exactly as prescribed by your nephrologist (kidney doctor).
- Play an active role in your dialysis treatment—and communicate with your treatment team about any changes in your health or how you feel. You know yourself best, so your input helps ensure that your treatment fits your life.
- Get support—encouragement from your family and friends is essential along the way.
Knowing what to expect
Starting in-center hemodialysis
- A full commitment to dialysis treatment times—approximately 3 times a week, 3–5 hours per session, plus travel time. Your kidney doctor will prescribe your exact routine.
- Staying 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.
- Transportation to and from dialysis appointments—for the first 6–12 months, you’ll be tired after treatments. Ask a family member, friend or caregiver for a ride. When you feel well enough, you may want to drive yourself.
Starting at-home peritoneal dialysis
Tips for getting ready:
- Have a home visit by your dialysis-training nurse—to see where you can do your treatments and store supplies
- Make sure your kidney doctor has checked your catheter—it takes about 2 weeks after surgical placement for your access site to heal and “mature” before use in your treatments
- Give yourself time—PD takes about 2 weeks to learn and master
- Get support—you can do PD on your own, but it’s a good idea to have a family member or friend to help you do exchanges if you’d like
Starting at-home hemodialysis
- Complete training from your at-home dialysis nurse—along with your care partner (family member or close friend), lasting anywhere from 4–8 weeks
- A dependable care partner—a family member or friend who will participate in your HD treatments or stay with you while you do them
- A full commitment to treatment times—following the schedule your doctor prescribes
- Efficient water and electrical systems—a tech team will be sent to check them in advance
- Space to store supplies and equipment—enough for 1 month's worth of treatment
Coping with dialysis
Working through your emotions
Step 1: Recognize that your feelings are normal.
Step 2: Try different approaches to processing your emotions and find out what works for you.
Step 3: Ask for help if you need it! Your doctor can refer you to a therapist and your social worker can recommend support groups.
"Emotionally, I make sure that I keep myself in the hands of my family members."
—Gloria, on dialysis since March 2013