I ran into an old college friend this past week. It’s always nice to see him, but I was particularly interested to talk to him because I know that a few years ago he received a kidney transplant. I asked him what his life had been like on dialysis.
First he said it was like being chained. You had to spend hours and hours in the dialysis unit each week having your blood cleaned. You couldn’t get away from it, it was a huge chunk of his life every week. Second, he said you never felt very well. Dialysis is not health, it’s survival. As your body gradually builds up toxins in the blood, you start to feel unwell. You need the dialysis to clean your blood. You also have to be extremely careful about what you eat or drink, fluids are very restricted because basically you don’t pee anymore. Anything you drink has to be filtered out of your body by dialysis. He talked about how frustrating that is on a hot summer day, not to be able to drink a big glass of water. But more difficult is just not feeling good.
The biggest thing he talked about was the uncertainty that most dialysis patients face. How long will my health last with this? Will I get a transplant? Will I stay healthy enough to be able to receive a transplant?
He was so glad that his brother was able to donate a kidney. When I told him I was working towards being a kidney donor, he was very affirming saying, “You will make a big difference in someone’s life.”