Dialysis is the most common treatment when your kidneys don’t work well enough to keep you healthy. Advances in technology and patient care mean that most people on dialysis live a longer, healthier life than ever before.
Dialysis means more time to share with a partner, watch children and grandchildren grow and spend time on a career or hobby.
With all of its advantages, dialysis will involve changes in some areas of your life, including:
1. Adjusting to a dialysis schedule
It takes hours each week to clean your blood. The number of hours you’ll spend on dialysis depends on the type of dialysis you choose and your kidney doctor’s dialysis prescription.
2. Having regular laboratory tests
Each month, your blood will be drawn for several tests to tell your healthcare team how well you’re doing on dialysis. The results are used to adjust your treatment plan to help you feel your best.
3. Taking medications
Dialysis alone can’t replace the work the kidneys do. Your kidney doctor will prescribe medication as needed to support your dialysis and help manage any side effects or other health concerns you may be experiencing.
4. Eating smart and balancing fluids
People living on dialysis are usually on a special diet. You may not be able to eat everything you like, and you may have to watch how much you drink . Dialysis diets vary by treatment type, with more freedom available for people who are having treatment at home.
Your care team includes a renal dietitian who helps you develop a meal plan that fits your lifestyle and takes into consideration your overall health goals.
5. Asking for help
Your care team includes a specially trained social worker. When life on dialysis gets complicated, he or she is ready to support you with:
How long does it take to get used to life on dialysis? It varies by person and experience, of course. Most people, however, begin to adjust to their ‘new normal’ in less than six months.
6. Knowing when to mention you are on dialysis
Whether and when you decide to tell others that you have dialysis treatments is up to you. However, when it comes to health care providers, of any kind, it’s important for you to say something so you get the right care for you. Here are some examples: