- Types of home dialysis
- Daily HHD
- Nocturnal HHD
- Standard HHD
- News & events
- Message boards
- For professionals
- About us
...everything you need to know about doing dialysis at home.
Michael’s kidneys failed in 2000 as a complication of living for more than 30 years with Type 1 diabetes. Because he had a long time to prepare for and adjust to the idea of dialysis, Michael was able to make an informed choice about his treatment. And, he chose to do his dialysis at home.
“I had a PD catheter put in, and I did PD for 2 years,” he recalls. “I chose PD for the freedom it gave me. I could set my own schedule and do my dialysis around what was important in my home life.”
In 2002, Michael had a rupture in part of his large intestine. Major surgery was required to repair the break; in addition, he developed life-threatening peritonitis. “I was in the hospital for 2 months in and out of a coma,” he remembers, “there were plenty of times that they didn’t think I was going to make it.”
Luckily, Michael did recover, but the abdominal scarring left by the rupture and surgical repair meant that he could no longer continue with PD.
After his release from the hospital, Michael began 3-times-a-week hemodialysis at clinic near his home in Prescott Valley, Arizona. “It was a good center,” Michael comments, “but the dialysis schedule was rough on me.” For example, it was very difficult for him to schedule appointments with the doctors he needs to see for other medical problems. In addition, Michael considered the in-center treatments harsh. “We had to take off a lot of fluid, etc., in a short time, so I felt bad after my dialysis sessions.” He felt bad between treatments, too. “Most of the time I didn’t feel well. Still, you do what you need to do, and then you live your life in spite of it.”
Michael and his wife, Deb, found out about home hemodialysis online at www.homedialysis.org. They were excited about the possibility of doing his dialysis at home again. “We had a great life with home dialysis on PD,” says Deb, “and we felt confident we could do it.” A local DaVita clinic was starting a new home program, and they applied. In spite of some serious health problems, DaVita accepted Michael into their home program.
With Deb as a willing and enthusiastic partner, Michael began training for home dialysis in fall 2004. “The training took about 6 weeks,” Michael recalls, “and during that time we worked on getting the plumbing and electrical ready in our house.” There actually wasn’t much for them to modify—they added a dedicated, grounded electrical outlet for the dialysis machine and did a little work on the water supply and plumbing drain.
Michael and Deb started doing his treatments at home on December 10, 2004. “Our DaVita home team came out to watch us do a run at home, and then they turned us loose!” laughs Michael. After a year of home dialysis, Michael and Deb have never looked back. “I’ve got my flexibility back, so it’s easier to cope with being on dialysis. Being at home lends a sense of independence and gives me a big emotional boost.” Michael also feels better physically. “The treatments are longer, but more gentle, so I feel well more often,” he adds.
Now 51, Michael is retired from his job as a mental health counselor due to disability. He uses the freedom he’s gained from home dialysis to pursue his model railroad hobby, work around the house, play with the family dog, and—most important to Michael—parent his college-age son. “Sometimes I want to do things I can’t do,” he admits, “but I need to be here for my son so I live with my situation.”
Michael uses the Fresenius “baby K” machine for his dialysis treatments. “We can set it up and do the tear-down after treatments pretty quickly.” The machine sits right by the bed because most of the time, Michael does his dialysis at night for 8-9 hours, every other night. “He can do his dialysis while he’s sleeping in his own bed,” adds Deb. Depending on what he has to do, Michael and Deb change the dialysis schedule to fit his needs. “Sometimes I do 2 days in a row and then skip an extra day in between, or, if I want, I dialyze during the day—short runs every day—if I need to have my nights free,” he explains.
Michael and Deb initially cleared every change in treatment schedule and equipment settings with their DaVita dialysis team. “Now we make some judgment calls on our own,” he admits, “because we’ve been doing it so long.”
Deb, who works at home as a magazine editor, is on hand during every treatment. Because Michael’s vision is impaired, she does the cannulation and handles the equipment set-up and cleaning. Once a month, they travel to Scottsdale for a check-up, lab tests, and a review of their run records. So far, all is well.
Some people ask, “Are you crazy? You could have someone do all that for you!” Michael and Deb tell them that the rewards of doing your own dialysis are worth the hassles. “It gives me freedom,” claims Michael. Deb adds, “Michael’s health is much improved, both physically and mentally. For us home dialysis has been a God-send.”
To people who say they could never do their own dialysis, Michael offers this advice: “The biggest stumbling block is fear. The actual act of hooking up, running, and taking off is relatively simple.” In fact, Deb thinks that she and Michael offer a great example of how home hemodialysis can work—even for someone who can’t do it all on their own. “DaVita was willing to train me to do the treatments and handle what Michael cannot do himself. Since I work at home and I’m always here, it works for us,” she explains. Although home dialysis may seem daunting to some, “for us, this is normal,” admitts Michael. “It’s as natural as brushing your teeth.”
Home Dialysis Central is made possible through the generous annual contributions of our Corporate Sponsors. Learn more about becoming a Corporate Sponsor.