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...everything you need to know about doing dialysis at home.
Niki, 34, is a full-time student in Vanderbilt University’s nursing practitioner program. Her schedule of classes, exams, and clinical internship assignments is busy and ever-changing. “I have a different schedule every week,” she said. Niki manages to do it all—and still get the dialysis she needs—because she chose continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis (CCPD) for her treatments.
The ability to adjust her dialysis routine to fit her changing schedule is one of the reasons that Niki likes PD. “I dialyze 7–9 hours a night, five or six times a week,” she explained. “I have a goal of the total number of dialysis hours I need each week, and then I make adjustments to fit my schedule.” Niki uses a cycler to deliver multiple PD exchanges while she sleeps at night. “I can change the number of exchanges and the length of the dwell times to get the amount of treatment I need,” she added.
Niki also appreciates the flexibility that she has with her diet. “My doctor is very good about working with me,” she advised. “As long as my lab values are good, I can make my own decisions about what I do, what I eat, and how much fluid I drink. I have control over my own health with PD.”
Niki learned how to operate her cycler and adjust the settings during her two-week training in 2006. She brought her dad to train with her (a dialysis partner is required by her center), but “he’s never had to do a treatment,” Niki noted.
Although she was “a little nervous” about doing home treatments at first, she says it is “second nature” now. Niki does all her own equipment set-up, dialysis runs and supply management herself. “I live on my own,” she explained; “my cycler is in my bedroom and my supplies are in the extra bedroom. It works out great.”
Niki started dialysis in 2005, not long after she was diagnosed with lupus. The lupus made her so sick that she was put on life support and her kidneys failed. She got her first dialysis treatment in the intensive care unit.
When she was released from the hospital, Niki continued getting hemodialysis treatments three times a week in the dialysis center. “One of the nurses in the center told me about PD,” Niki reported. “She said she thought I might like the freedom.” Niki agreed and began her training at the Fresenius Medical Care Vanderbilt home dialysis program.
“I didn’t like hemo,” Niki remembered. “I was tired all the time, and I didn’t feel well. Now, I don’t feel any different than I did before my diagnosis. I have a lot of energy and can do whatever I want. There is no comparison,” she added.
Niki will graduate in August 2010 as a nurse practitioner in cardiovascular medicine. She has already had a job offer, and is still considering her options—including a move to another state.
In the meantime, she is happy to share her experience with PD by talking to other people who are considering home dialysis. “I recommend it,” she stated, “because of the flexible schedule, and because it’s more like your own kidneys. PD is a good fit for me.”
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