Last updated: August 2023
A few months after my first kidney transplant, I came to the realization that my body was rejecting the kidney and my kidney function was declining. This was heartbreaking not only for me, but my grandad who had gone through the entire transplant process just for the kidney to only last six months. He felt that he had let me down, but I had to reassure him he did not, and thank him for putting his life on the line for me. But I know deep down he was still devastated.
I was told that because my kidney function was so low that until I could have another transplant I would need to be on dialysis. I was familiar with dialysis because my great grandmother was on it, but the thought of me having to start myself was very scary.
Going in for dialysis
I remember going in for my first session. It was on my 22nd birthday and I did only an hour session. Since it was my first time, they had to take it slowly. For those that don’t know, dialysis is a procedure to remove waste products and excess fluid from the blood when your kidneys stop working properly. It often involves diverting blood to a machine to be cleaned.
I would go to the dialysis center three times per week. At the time, I was working and would normally finish at school in the afternoon, but would have to leave early to get my train so I could get there on time. The later I get on the machine, the later I would finish and because I had work the next day, I wanted to get home as soon as possible so I was not tired the next morning.
The staff at the hospital made the experience way more manageable. She put all of the younger patients together so we could talk and share experiences, or even bring our PlayStations in so we could play together. Sometimes we even order food to be delivered. She used to give us a plate full of biscuits as well so she was definitely our favorite. Because of her kindness and thoughtfulness, sometimes I even forgot I was on dialysis.
An impact on my social life
Going on dialysis definitely impacted my social life in a big way. On a Friday, instead of meeting up with friends or going our for drinks or food with work staff, I would have to instead go to the dialysis clinic. The only people that knew I was on dialysis was my family. If anyone asked me why I couldn't go or meet up somewhere, I would make up an excuse and say I was going to a family member's house or I had something else planned.
At the time, I felt embarrassed about the fact I was 22 years old and instead of living a normal life I had to rely on a machine to effectively keep me alive, so did not want to admit that to anyone outside my family.
Is exercise an important part of your CKD management?