Confession time. I’ve not played it close to the chest in this blog. Good or bad, I have written about it because I want people to know about the dialysis experience. You should get a lot of information from your treatment center but my experience is that they want to get you hooked up to the machine, go about their business, and get you off the machine. The only time you interact with a staff member, generally, is when they are busy sticking you or taking you off. The nurse may come around and check your heart, lungs, access but, again, there’s not a lot of chatting. So, when you have a question, I expect you don’t get an answer. That’s why I began this blog. I’ll talk about anything — diarrhea, depression, conflicts, “the Center from Hell, etc. I don’t hold anything back. But this topic cuts to the quick. It’s painful to write about and here goes.
When I began dialysis back in August 2008, I was about 125 kilos (275 lbs) in dry weight. I’d go in on a Monday at well over 133. I was drinking entirely too much fluid and I didn’t know much about a kidney-friendly diet. In my last year with CKD-4, I gained about 40 lbs because the only activity, aside from going to work behind a desk, was eating. In the first year or so of dialysis, I gradually got to the point where I was going in a kilo more every other month. In a year that was 6 kilos. I was working and maintaining a home with two young men. I didn’t have time for much more than eating. So gradually I gained until my dry weight was 143. That is almost 315 pounds!
The Eureka! moment was when I couldn’t put on my own shoes and could barely get dressed without help. Then, when I couldn’t wipe my butt thoroughly because I couldn’t reach it, I decided to go into a weight reduction program. Over the years, I had tried all the “drink this”diets and about all the popular diet methods like the South Beach, Atkins, etc but now that I had full-blown ESRD, I had to be careful with anything like that. I decided on the bariatric method, specifically LapBand. Actually, I wanted to do that back in 2007-2008 but my insurance at the time wouldn’t cover it. I even considered paying for myself. It was supposed to be $9500 but because of my kidney failure, it would be $15,000 as it had to be done in the hospital instead of the outpatient surgical center. Even at the higher price, it would have been worth it but then I got laid off. So, I figured I’d wait until Medicare kicked in as my primary insurance after the first 3 years. That was 2011. (It took a few years before I reached my breaking point and got the courage to begin.) Over the summer of 2014, I worked on the pre-op requirements.
On September 22, 2014, I got the LapBand installed. It has been about 7 months and I am at 119.2 kilos (262). That’s over 52 pounds later! I am half-way to my initial goal of 100 lbs. But it’s not the LapBand alone that’s changed my life. It controls how much I can eat and that’s helpful. (It takes me about 30 minutes to eat a sandwich!) But, I also go to the fitness center three days a week and walk for one-half to three-quarters of a mile on the treadmill, do some circuit machine workouts, and ride a reclining bike for a mile or two. That is short of my ultimate goal but it’s steps in the right direction.
Here’s how this applies to dialysis. Because I’ve lost this weight, my access is easier to stick. I don’t have that centimeter of fat over the top of my fistual and, as I reduce my weight, that will only get better. The best part is: You know those people who come into dialysis skipping and hopping? Then they go out the same way? Well, I’m becoming one of them. I didn’t expect that but it’s happening gradually. I have considerably more energy when I get through with dialysis. I rest for a bit when I get home but it’s almost more out of habit than need. I recover more quickly now and that’s a blessing. Probably because I’m not carrying an extra 50 pounds!
It’s all a real challenge and I’ll write about “Dialysis and LapBand” next so perhaps you can be helped by my experience with that!