Dialysis Life

What is dialysis?

Dialysis is the artificial process of eliminating waste (diffusion) and unwanted water (ultrafiltration) from the blood. 

Our kidneys are the ones which basically do that for us.  When kidneys fail, dialysis or transplantation are your options.  Since kidneys are not working anymore, you will also decrease or all-together fail to urinate, thus the liquid you intake will stay in your body until you undergo dialysis.

I undergo hemodialysis, since peritoneal dialysis is not recommended for me.  It is said to be more prone to infections especially in tropical countries.

Where do you go for dialysis treatment?

one of the nurses who take care of me

You can go to hospitals or nephrology centers.  I go to Nephrology Center Manila because they offer one of the lowest rates in hemodialysis.  I also like their nurses because they take good care of me and my access/fistula.

How many hours does one session take?

Dialysis takes 4 hours per session. If you add the waiting and the prep time, it will take about 5-6 hours of your time.  The number of days per week depends on what your doctor recommends because of your creatinine levels.  I go three times a week.

How much does one session cost?

don't mind my ugly handwriting :)
A hemodialysis sessions costs between 1,800 - 4,500 pesos in nephrology centers.  Hospital rates go around 3,500 up.  There are other expenses aside from the treatment, like the dialyzer and your medicines (injections and oral), plus your monthly labs.

Dialysis is a very expensive medical procedure that is why it is very important that you take care of your body! :)

Does Philhealth cover some of the expenses?

It is wise to choose Philhealth accredited centers for hemodialysis.  In the center where I go to, they offer different types of Philhealth packages.  I chose the 800 payout package, wherein I pay 800 every session for 104 sessions (dialyzer is 300 each upto 10 pcs).  There are no other inclusions.  Other packages though cost higher, but have inclusions like monthly labs, dialyzers, and injections.

After 104 sessions, you are then going to pay the center for the full price of 1,950 per session and 1k++ per dialyzer.  If you are scheduled to get dialyzed twice a week, then 104 sessions is like for a whole year.  However, if you are scheduled thrice a week like me, then 104 sessions are until August only.  September - December you will pay full price.

What other agencies help dialysis patients?

Some politicians do give help they say, but I have not tried going to one.  The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office do give out guarantee letters that may amount up to 20,000 pesos every time you request.  You will then give these guarantee letters to the center, if they accept PCSO guarantee letters, of course.

If you have a Persons With Disability card, you can get discounts for injections and other procedures.  You can get them from your local Senior Citizens' Office.

Can you do something else while on dialysis?

Yes.  It all depends on where your fistula is.  If you are right-handed and your fistula is on your left arm, then you can do lots of things like write, and not be too restricted.  However, you can also go online or watch TV.  As the center I go to has free WIFI, it makes waiting less boring. I get to go on Facebook or Instagram, and post things on here. 

Here is a picture of my foot while waiting for my turn. I am scheduled for the 2nd shift, so it starts about 10am to 11:30 am depending on how early the first batch finishes. 

What do you wear?

I always wear the same batch of clothes, it's sort of a uniform. Hahaha. It's because the center smells like vinegar and bleach, and it latches on you like a clingy girlfriend. So as not to ruin my other clothes coz I have so little of them, I wear these comfortable beach wear pants and shirt with my favorite Birki's that I have for like 3 years now. 

What do you bring?

Katinko and 5 Cranes

I bring the following during dialysis:
  • Blanket (I use a lightweight sarong)
  • Small pillow
  • Food and drinks
  • Candies
  • My bag which has all the small essentials like my phones, tablet, earphones, comb, Katinko, and other balms. 

What is the dialysis procedure?

nurse JP drew on my hand

When my turn is up, I usually fix my seat/recliner before I sit. I make sure that everything I will need is within reach as I don't have anyone with me most of the time. A nurse will come and check your vitals. Then if all is good, she'll proceed on preparing the things needed like the needles with tubes and tape. Another nurse will be preparing the machine, putting on tubes and your dialyzer. The dialyzer can be used 10 times. The less, the better. In other dialysis centers, they do not reuse the dialyzer, thus making these sessions expensive. 
Your arm will then be pricked twice with the big needles with tubes and it will be connected to the machine. One is called the arterial, where the blood comes out to the tube; and the other, venous, where the blood goes back in your body.  In between these two is the dialyzer which is like your kidney.  Your blood passes it to be cleaned.
After four hours, your blood goes back in your body through the venous access.  Your vitals will again be checked if your blood pressure is within normal so they can remove the needles.  If not, you will have to rest a little more until your BP returns to normal.

Does it hurt?

dialysis needles
Of course it hurts a lot to be pricked by humongous needles but you don't have a choice! Hahaha! But after that, the pain stops or dulls. You have to be very careful so as not to disturb the needles so they won't hurt, or "bulge."
Is dialysis dangerous/fatal?

blood transfusion 2007
There can be complications during dialysis like abnormal blood pressure or heart rates.  A doctor and nurses will be checking your vitals every now and then to be sure.  Before a session starts, you will be asked a series of questions like if you are experiencing chest pains or if you are on your period.  Your menstrual period is considered during hemodialysis because a blood thinner is used so as to prevent clotting.  If there is something wrong, the doctor can deny you hemodialysis in the center and you will be referred to a hospital where you will be given more adequate care.  You will also cannot be dialyzed if you have dangerously low hemoglobin levels.  You will need a blood transfusion before you can get dialyzed.

If you fail to undergo dialysis, fluid can go to your lungs and may cause complications, and of course, is fatal.

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