I was on a forum posting about my fourth Anniversary and I realized I never wrote anything about my “first stick”. So, here it is…
I had advanced knowledge that I was going into dialysis for kidney failure. I was lucky. Most people don’t have that experience. Most end up in an Emergency Room and that’s not a pleasant way to enter the dialysis world! But, I knew and so I had my fistula in the previous March and entered the hospital on August 21, 2008, four years ago.
The doctor likes to have new patients first stick in a hospital setting because the trauma of dialysis for the first few times is pretty hard on the body. Anything can happen. I’ve read some real horror stories of people who had their first dialysis in-center rather than the hospital and passing out, falling down stairs, severe nausea, heart failure, stroke, you name it. Due to the increase chances of catastrophe, it’s good advice to have the first sessions in the hospital. I wasn’t given a choice and I appreciate that. I didn’t know enough to make it anyway.
I was very lucky. I got a private room just outside the nurse’s station in a very nice hospital near Fort Worth, Texas. Several people came in and listened to my virgin fistula with their stethoscope and pronounced it “good”. I learned a new meaning for the word “Thrill” and a new word, “Bruit”. Later in the first day, a technician rolled in a dialysis machine about the size of an arcade video game station and proceeded to set it up. She carefully walked her fingers around my fistula and I jokingly pleaded with her to “Be gentle, it’s my first time!” She barely broke a grin as she pulled out two HUGE needles, swabbed my forearm, and explored some more with her gloved hands.
She used Lidocaine to numb the areas where she was going to stick. I’m not sure which hurt worse between the tiny needle for the Lidocaine suspended in alcohol (I know you understand the pain of alcohol applied to an open wound. It’s the same when injected under the skin.) After waiting a few minutes for the Lidocaine to deaden the area, she stuck me with the dialysis needle. It was the “smallest” needle at 17 gauge but it’s still the largest needle ever inserted into my body. If I can relate it to a woman’s first experience with sexual intercourse, this was my first time being penetrated and DAMN it hurts!
The first needle was much easier than the second. Unfortunately my fistula is pretty deep as it moves up my arm about a half-inch deep. She had a really hard time finding and poking it properly. We were like a young couple trying to make love for the first time and it was just as sloppy and troublesome. I was not enjoying it though. After a half hour or so, she gave up. My arm was beginning to turn yellow and brown from the bruising and infiltration. Later a nurse brought in a bag of ice to put in it. That was it for the first day. Not a very good beginning for my first time as I’m sure many can say!
The next day, a new tech came in and seemed much more confident. He found both locations (the vein and the artery) and stuck me with little hesitation or relative pain. (As I wrote in “Dialysis Pain and Lidocaine“, the pain of the Lidocaine stick is worse than the dialysis needle stick.) I sat quietly for the next four hours as the machine chugged and burped. He came in, removed the needles and taped me up. That was the end of the second day and the first dialysis session.
I gotta say the food at the hospital was pretty dang good! It made the really boring periods of time go by. Because I was there for dialysis, there wasn’t much going on other than the treatment. The food made the time go by. I didn’t expect good food in an institutional setting. I’m so thankful for cooks who can pull off tasteful food in large quantities!
I went into the hospital on Thursday expecting to be discharged on Saturday but, because of the failed “first time”, I had my third session on Sunday morning and was discharged later that day. In retrospect, it was not too unpleasant. My arm was still bruised from the infiltration and that was the beginning of many similar events to come. I would learn to get used to it. The food was good and the staff attention to my needs were excellent. It was quiet and peaceful between sessions. I had time to read and relax until the anxious moments of the treatments. It’s been said that dialysis is ten minutes of horror followed by four hours of boredom. That sorta says it all. I was glad to have three sessions under my belt before I would do in-center dialysis for the next several years.
Anyway, that’s how I lost my dialysis “virginity”. It was four years ago and it seems ages ago but just yesterday. See my posting about “Dialysis and Anniversary” if you haven’t already.
© 2012 DevonTexas