Wednesday, 21 October 2015

My Kidney Does Not Work. I Do Not Pee!

"Never judge someone without knowing the full story"

It is one of my favourite sayings. And it's true - don't.
                                                                                     
I would like to think I am not a vindictive or horrible person however I know I can and, regrettably, have been because of how I was feeling on a particular day and people probably judge me very much on that. It's genuinely not who I am though.

Renal failure, and everything that comes with it -physically and mentally, is not known by many. Everyone knows about Cancer. It is a vicious disease and the sooner we can get rid of it the better. Yet, renal failure patients go through comparable things.  Please do not think I am taking Cancer lightly - I am not! I am merely pointing out the similarities between them in terms of what we have to go through and the amount of side effects we have.

I bet a lot of you who read this think that I go for dialysis, come home and it's all la-de-da.

Well it is not.

I have seen some horrific things and even experienced them myself. I want to make that known so more people can appreciate what we go through and hopefully join the organ donor register.

The main thing about renal failure patients that people should know about is that most of us do not pee. This way seem like an obvious thing but the amount of people who have asked me why is ridiculous. Think about it, our kidney's flush all of the toxins out of our bodies and ours do not work therefore we cannot pee. As a consequence, we retain fluid. Everything we eat and drink stays in our body. We drink a cup of coffee (which we are not suppose to do), everything in that stays in us. Even if we eat a strawberry (which, again, we are not suppose to do) that is made up of 92% water, we retain that fluid. 

A couple of years ago I was out for T's birthday, you all know T. It was a milestone birthday and we all went a little wild. Me more than most. I had dialysis of the Friday night and went out with the girls straight after. On the Saturday night she had a proper party and we all went out again. On the Sunday I went to Manchester with my Dad to a football game at 06:30. I got to bed at 05:30! When I went for dialysis on the Monday I had put on 6 kilograms. 6KG! That is almost 3/4 of a stone in liquid! At the time it was funny, I had never done that before. Looking back however, I realise how much pressure and potentially fatal risk I had put my body under. We have to be very careful about what we put in our bodies whether it is healthy to a 'normal' person or not. I have put these photos in to show you how bad it can get but these aren't the worst. I've deleted the realllly bad ones! The left photos are of me going to dialysis and the right ones are of when I am done. At first glance they are funny but it is actually pretty serious. I am very self conscious about the pictures and don't like going out in public when I look like that but it's the hard truth of what I go through on a daily basis.
 
High potassium and phosphate are also side effects of renal failure. Earlier this year I was suppose to have an operation on my fistula however on two separate occasions I was declined treatment because my potassium and phosphate levels were too high which meant I was at risk of having a stroke and a heart attack.  This is not known by many people, if any in fact. Furthermore, high potassium can cause extremely itchy skin and I have itched so much before that I took three layers of skin off my foot one night.

Another thing is that we get sick. Very sick. I am extremely lucky and have only been sick a small handful of times on dialysis and that was at the very start of my treatment but I know people who are sick every day they have dialysis and even when they are not in. During dialysis the machine takes approximately 350mls of our blood out of our body and pushes it through the filtration system. Some people cannot handle that and are violently sick for the duration of their treatment.

In addition to this we get severe cramp. Most pregnant woman and athletes will empathise with this. It's awful. As I stated before, most of us do not pee so during dialysis the machine, as well as clean our blood, takes off the excess fluid that has build up in our body. We can often misjudge how much fluid we take off during treatment and if we have put on too much then we're more likely going to get cramp. 


Cramp is the "involuntarily and forcibly contraction of the muscle that does not relax". 

I remember being in the side room once and I was just about to come off of dialysis when I experienced the worst pain of my life. Luckily one of the nurses was walking past my door and she immediately gave me some saline through my machine but that did not suffice. The cramp started in my feet and worked its way up my body in every muscle imaginable. This lasted for what felt like forever and before I knew it there were two nurses around me and a doctor frantically trying to massaging my muscles. The pain eventually subsided but I vowed to myself that I would never feel that pain again.

Furthermore, we can also faint from time to time. As a result of the fluid loss, again, our bodies sometimes can become low on liquids and we completely pass out.

We can also die on dialysis which is non-such-a-fun fact! This rarely happens I would like to stress, but it can and there are so many possible causes of it including haemolysis. 

"Haemolysis is the rupturing of red blood cells and the release of their contents into surrounding fluid (e.g. blood plasma)". 

This basically causes the red blood cells to explode and release deadly toxins into our blood and can happen if the lines accidentally become kinked. I would like to remind you that this genuinely hardly ever happens. But it can.

Several other things that can often occur in dialysis patients include:

·         Low Blood Pressure (hypotension). Low blood pressure may be accompanied by shortness of breath, abdominal cramps, muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting. If I have overdone the fluid intake I can feel the fluid in my chest and sometimes cannot walk very far (especially after the 6kg incident!)

·         Sleep Problems. People receiving hemodialysis often have trouble sleeping, sometimes because of breaks in breathing during sleep (sleep apnoea) or because of aching, being uncomfortable or restless legs.

·         Anaemia. Not having enough red blood cells in your blood (anaemia) is a common complication of kidney failure and hemodialysis. Failing kidneys reduce production of a hormone called erythropoietin (uh-rith-roe-POI-uh-tin), which stimulates formation of red blood cells. Diet restrictions, poor absorption of iron, frequent blood tests, or removal of iron and vitamins by hemodialysis also can contribute to anaemia.

·         Bone Diseases. If your damaged kidneys are no longer able to process vitamin D, which helps you absorb calcium, your bones may weaken. In addition, overproduction of parathyroid hormone — a common complication of kidney failure — can release calcium from your bones.

·         High Blood Pressure (hypertension). If you consume too much salt or drink too much fluid, your high blood pressure is likely to get worse and lead to heart problems or strokes.

·         Inflammation of the Membrane Surrounding the Heart (pericarditis). Insufficient hemodialysis can lead to inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart, which can interfere with your heart's ability to pump blood to the rest of your body.

·         Access site complications. Potentially dangerous complications — such as infection, narrowing or ballooning of the blood vessel wall or blockage — can impact the quality of hemodialysis. This has been a problem throughout my treatment and I have had to get 6 operations on my arm in three years.

·         Amyloidosis. Dialysis-related amyloidosis develops when proteins in blood are deposited on joints and tendons, causing pain, stiffness and fluid in the joints. The condition is more common in people who have undergone hemodialysis for more than five years.

·         Depression.

(mayoclinic.org)

Just after I returned to college after I had been in hospital for six weeks I was in the lift going from the basement level to the ground floor. It was only one floor but having just come out of hospital I was extremely tired and decided to take the lift. There was a lecturer in the lift who asked me what floor I was going to and I said ground.

She proceeded to say "ah you're one of those lazy students who can't be bother to walk up one flight of stairs!!".

I wish I could go back and tell her exactly what was going on in my life because I didn't say anything and shied away in the corner. She was totally in the wrong and judged me before knowing the full story.

People can be mean sometimes. I know I have said and done things that I deeply regret because of how I was feeling that day. I do not mean things personally, it is just word vomit. I also try and understand why people say and do things because it is usually built up from something going on in their lives.

From now on, try not to judge people based on how they act because nine out of ten times they will regret what they say instantly!

Kate xx


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4 comments

  1. What a read! What a lot you're going through.

    But what's the call to action? Is it just to get more of us on the organ donor register?

    You're in my weekly round up of best PR student blogs published this morning at behindthespin.com (couldn't find you on Twitter to share via that channel.)

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