My two cents on dialysis

Let’s just say I was a little wimp last Sunday during the whole process of getting my first dialysis done. I was barely alive, exhausted from having just flown in from Manila and I hadn’t even been in Bacolod for 24-hours and I already found myself at the Hemodialysis room at the hospital with the nurses and doctor talking to me about inserting a catheter into my neck so I can start my dialysis treatment as soon as possible, which was needed to save my life.

This all happened so fast, mind you, and on top of my mind was the fact that it was a Sunday and it was the final show of No Filter 2.0 and while I was concerned about my life, I was also engrossed into thinking about the final show of the play that I had invested seven whole months of my life into and how I was missing the final show. It made everything so much more emotional especially since I have a particular philosophy about losing an internal organ.

The dialysis machine that's helping out my kidney do its job

The dialysis machine that’s helping out my kidney do its job

I used to make a joke and said very frequently and unabashedly that if any of my internal organs gave up, I’d kill myself. At the time when I said that, my thinking was that I didn’t want to be a burden to anybody else and I didn’t want to have to go through the pain and the cost of taking care of myself. I expected as much to be alone in my older age and not wanting to be a burden to my siblings (or worse! my nephews and nieces) that it was a decision I sort of half-jokingly made in the past.

Now, I’m 36 years old and I find myself with the possibility that my kidney just gave up on me and I was completely weak with blood poisoning, body full of creatinine, and suddenly in a hospital in Bacolod with doctors explaining to me how they were going to make a cut in my neck to insert a catheter so that I can start dialysis, let’s just say I was more than overwhelmed.

I began crying. I cried because I was scared. I was crying because my kidney had died on me. I was crying because I thought I failed at taking care of myself. I was crying because I felt like it was the beginning of my deterioration. I was crying because I was missing the last show of No Filter 2.0 and I was missing my No Filter family. I was crying because I made everyone worried and concerned again.

I was crying over so many things. I was being a little child.

But I had no choice so I was able to muster up enough courage to ask exactly how the procedure was going to go and I gave the go-signal that I was ready. And the doctor and the nurses began to prep.

The whole process of attaching the catheter — from prep to operation to clean-up — was less than an hour. The most painful part was the injection for the anaesthesia. Everything else was just the feeling of pressure and some weird sensations but nothing definite. I knew they were cutting into me but I didn’t feel it.

I had a very good doctor and the nurses were so fabulous. I have always been very fortunate with my doctors and nurses.

Right after the procedure, they began my first dialysis session and it was a breeze. No pain. Some discomfort but it was completely and totally fine. It was just three hours of doing nothing and I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t bring a book or anything. I did bring my phone, though, and the emotions continued to run high because the show had ended in Manila and the cast and crew were off to the cast party and I was in touch with them through my phone and WhatsApp. The whole time, during the dialysis session, I was messaging them and they were sending photos and video of the party. I was so touched. I was sad that I wasn’t there but I was so happy that they made me feel like I was still there.

After my dialysis, I was brought back to my room and already I could feel everything had changed in my body. The creatinine and the toxins had been cleaned out of my blood and I was strong again. I was no longer breathing in poison. For the past three days I couldn’t walk without losing my breath; chewing exhausted me and made eating very difficult. Right after my dialysis, I was strong again. I was walking to the bathroom on my own without help and I was perky and energetic.

The difference was night and day.

As of this blog entry, I’ve undergone three dialysis sessions. The first dialysis session was three hours because my body is not used to it so we have to ease the body into it. But the regular session should be four. So my second and third dialysis sessions were that long and this time I came prepared. I brought books and read and the other half of the time, I slept. It’s a breeze, it still doesn’t hurt, and the discomfort is less than before.

And it is really doing wonders for me. My creatinine levels were at six and that’s six points more than it should be. After one dialysis session, it went down to three-point-forty-five. Usually, dialysis would only decrease the creatinine by one point. That’s good enough, my doctor said, but mine went down by almost half. It’s a good sign. My body is taking to the process well.

I took a selfie of myself right after the doctors inserted the catheter in my neck for my catheter. That's not blood on my shirt, that's the Betadine (just saying). Hospital selfie? I'm such a #millennial

I took a selfie of myself right after the doctors inserted the catheter in my neck for my catheter. That’s not blood on my shirt, that’s the Betadine (just saying). Hospital selfie? I’m such a #millennial

I was talking to my doctor and she was telling me my initial reaction to the dialysis is not unfounded. A lot of people react in a similar way but my doctor was so thankful that regardless of how scared I was, I went ahead and pushed through with it. A lot of patients, apparently, when they hear they have to do dialysis, they take their time and stall. They don’t do it right away and procrastinate. They are afraid and I don’t blame them. I was there. If I could, I would have delayed everything as well and asked for more time.

Apparently, this delay is what causes a lot of these people to not make it through. Dialysis has such a bad reputation but my doctor says, if you get diagnosed early enough to recognise the need for dialysis and you start immediately, it could prolong your life in a great way. She’s so thankful that I had the support system that got me to take the treatment and push through with it when we did because we just might have saved my life and maybe even my kidney.

Not many people do this, though, and kill their chances (pun used intentionally) of having a long and meaningful life.

I know feel really bad about making that joke about killing myself when a body part goes. It was very insensitive and though it made people laugh, I didn’t realise what I was saying and that there are hundreds and thousands of people on dialysis and their lives are way better and way more meaningful than mine and the joke just doesn’t seem as funny any more.

Now that I am undergoing the process and, by the looks of things and my laboratory reports, it seems that I will be doing this permanently, thrice a week for the rest of my life, it’s not as scary or as horrible as I first thought. And if this is what it takes to continue my life and give me more time to write more plays, write a novel, write more poems, hang out with friends, watch my nephews and nieces grow up, and be with my family then that’s what I’ll do.

It’s four hour, thrice a week in exchange for the rest of my life (however long it may be). That’s not so bad. It’s not as scary as I thought.

We keep fighting. We don’t give up.

2 thoughts on “My two cents on dialysis

  1. I read your blog entries eveyday–every hour.
    Youre an inspiration not just for people battling hiv or other illnesses ,but also to everyone else. Though youre slightly physically weak compared to your early years, your heart remains strong as ever 🙂 youre a beacon of hope and strength! Keep on inspiring us wanggo 🙂

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