March 3, 2008
Ann David is a peritoneal dialysis (PD) patient who is constantly on the go. Ann enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters, shopping and doing crafts. She’s thankful that PD has given her the energy to get moving. This is her story.
My name is Ann David, and I am 77 years old. I have been on home peritoneal dialysis for one year. I live with my husband and have two daughters who live in the same subdivision as us.
Deciding whether to do dialysis at home or to do dialysis at a clinic was a tough decision. Reading the material, I was overwhelmed with the information about doing dialysis at home. The amount of supplies, the machine, making sure things are sterile, learning how to run the machine, hooking myself up, it all seemed so complicated. Then, there were the questions. What do you do if there is a power failure or if the machine malfunctions? Where do we store everything? Can we make this work? With the help of my family, we decided to make it a family project and try doing dialysis at home.
The first hurdle I encountered was getting the catheter put in. I had breast cancer 43 years ago. I’ve had two mastectomies and several abdominal surgeries. There was a possibility that I had too much scare tissue for it even to be possible to have the catheter inserted. I went to Columbia, MO, and Dr. Nichols did the procedure without any problems. First hurdle cleared.
Next came the classes and learning how things would work. My daughters and I went to DaVita Lake St. Louis. Lisa Wilson is my nurse. The girls took notes as we learned how to do dialysis manually. We’d talk about the things we learned and review handouts. Lisa had all of us doing all parts of the dialysis in the office, and eventually, we felt better about what we were about to encounter at home.
After doing manual dialysis for a while at home, it didn’t seem that overwhelming. We had a schedule, and things went pretty smoothly. Now it was time to learn how to operate the machine. We went back for more classes and practice sessions. Soon it was time to begin at home.
I’d like to say that the first night was a piece of cake, but it wasn’t. The machine started beeping in the middle of the night. We were scared that we messed up. We called the 24-hour help line, and they walked us through some steps. We found out that we did everything okay. We did manual treatments that next day, and in less than 24 hours, the machine company had a new machine out to us.
You probably think that at this point, I was ready to give up and go to the clinic. That is just the opposite of what happened. This problem was a good thing for us. We were no longer afraid of anything going wrong. We found out how nice and helpful the people were on the 24-hour helpline. We didn’t have to worry about messing up because help was just a phone call away. This experience gave us the confidence and courage that other problems wouldn’t be that hard to solve.
During the winter, there was an ice storm, and we were without power for three days. Once again, we were put to the test. When the power first went off in the middle of the night, I disconnected myself, found an extra blanket, and went back to bed, knowing Lisa or one of the nurses on call would advise me what to do in the morning. The next morning, we still did not have power, so I was told to do manual dialysis. This was a little more complicated since we had to find a way to heat the solution and get enough light to see what we were doing. The family all helped, and we made it through the ice storm.
Enough about the mechanics of home dialysis, how has this affected my life? Before dialysis, I had little energy, had lost my appetite and spent most of my time sitting in my recliner and sleeping in front of the television. I stopped doing most of my crafts, didn’t do much shopping and limited activities outside the house. When we would go to the doctor’s appointments, that was about all I could do that day. It would wear me out. I didn’t even want to stop for lunch outside the house.
Once I started dialysis, all of that slowly changed. Now, I am back doing my crafts. I have energy again, and people can’t believe how much better I look physically. Don’t believe me? Last Monday, I had a doctor’s appointment. After that, my daughters and I went to lunch. Then we went shopping. We went to four stores all located in different areas. Five hours later, we finally came home, and I spent my evening crocheting. On Tuesday, I went to my church’s seniors’ meeting and luncheon. Then, on Wednesday, I spent the day quilting. My family says I’m always on the go now, and they think it is great.
Home dialysis has given me my life back. I am grateful for all the help and support of my family and the great staff at DaVita. I am so glad I didn’t give in to my concerns and gave home dialysis a try. I would recommend it to anyone.
Visit www.davita.com/home for more information on peritoneal dialysis.