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...everything you need to know about doing dialysis at home.
In 1975, Edward was a newly-married 19-year-old, looking forward to life. Getting a case of strep throat seemed like a minor setback; he began taking antibiotics and started to feel better, but the strep infection damaged his kidneys. “After several months of painful testing, I was diagnosed with glomerulonephritis,” he recalls.
Doctors told Edward and his wife that there was no cure for his kidney disease and he would eventually need dialysis. “I was young and stupid,” he admits, “and I did not follow my doctors’ advice. I did not watch my weight, and as a result, my blood pressure was high.” Today, he realizes that years of high blood pressure took a toll on his kidneys.
It was the summer of 2004—almost 30 years after his diagnosis—that Edward’s new nephrologist, Dr. Pravoverov, told him that his kidney disease had progressed to the point that he was going to need dialysis. “What I heard was ‘DIE-AL-I-SIS,’” he says. “I told him that it was a transplant or nothing for me. There would be no dialysis.”
A few months later, Edward began to feel really sick. He was nauseated, couldn’t sleep, and his potassium level dropped dangerously low. His doctor put him in the hospital, and the whole experience convinced Edward that he didn’t want to die. He was 48 years old, and he agreed to begin dialysis.
“With the help of my beautiful wife, I started peritoneal dialysis in March of 2005,” Edward reports. He went to the DaVita clinic in Stockton, California, for two weeks of training with PD nurse Nancy Wegat. He learned to do continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD), a form of treatment that requires 4-5 manual fluid exchanges each day.
Edward did his PD exchanges manually for just a few months. The therapy was working great, but he switched to cycler-assisted PD (CCPD) in July 2005 so that he could return to work as a sales person in the automotive department of Sears. Using a cycler makes it possible for Edward to get all the exchanges he needs while he sleeps at night, leaving his days free for work.
These days, Edward does his dialysis treatments 9 hours every night. He goes to the DaVita clinic once a week for his shot of EPO (erythropoietin), and once a month for lab work. He handles the dialysis treatments, however, all on his own.
Edward acknowledges that the support he gets from his dialysis team is a big factor in his success. “My relationship with my dialysis clinic is more than professional,” Edward maintains. ” It’s personal.” He considers his training nurse, Nancy, his other PD nurse, Cindy Harrison, and all the DaVita team members (Robert, Trina, Blair, Rick, and Sangita) his friends. “These people have helped me through some dark days in my life,” he adds.
The support of the dialysis team was especially helpful to Edward after his wife of 33 years died in June of 2007. “I was heartbroken,” he says, “but they made sure that I kept up my treatments and kept my levels in a healthy range. They also lent a sympathetic ear when I wanted to talk, and I thank God for each and every one of them.” The team helped Edward get through a serious illness in December 2007, and they continue to provide the support he needs to do PD on his own.
Edward is glad he made the decision to give dialysis—in particular, peritoneal dialysis at home—a try. “Peritoneal dialysis is more than just a treatment,” he says. “It is a way of life, a way to live as normal as possible, and get your dialysis in the comfort of your own home.”
“I am thankful to my doctor and to everyone at DaVita, but most of all I am thankful to my God who gave me the love of a wonderful woman for 33 years, and who gives me the strength everyday to go on alone. You see the most important part of my treatment is my FAITH.”
“If I had to do it over again, I would do everything the same!”
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