Ten Tested-Til-Perfect PD Life Hacks
I've been on PD for 11 years, and thought I might have helpful info for others, as I find myself repeating these suggestions over and over. So, I compiled a list of tips. Use at your own discretion of course, but these are my 10 tested-til-perfect PD Life Hacks.
1. (UN)HOOK ME UP!
Do you hate the long treatment time, because you've got stuff around the house to do? Or you need to pee in the middle of the night but your line won't reach? In Canada, Baxter has OptiCaps™ (Flexicaps in the U.S.) and Fresenius has multiple tubing set (MTS) caps that work with the stay•safe system. You can disconnect safely during a dwell and put these caps on your drain line until you return. Voila! For me, it's 88 minutes of dwell-time freedom until I need to reconnect.
2. BURN BABY BURN
Do your feet burn or tingle at night when you're trying to sleep? Unwrap a bag—any %, you won't be hooking it to your machine—and stick it in the end of your bed. It's a cold water bottle for your feet! Quells burning, and generally feels great on tender tootsies.
3. WINDOWS AND FANS AND PETS, OH MY!
Feel like all the "rules" are getting you down? While the renal teams tell you everything that can go wrong, it’s kinda like telling you, "You could get hit by a car and die when you step out your door!" It's not false—but it's very, very unlikely. If you forget to put Rover out of the bedroom one night, or don't close the window, 99.999% of the time you'll be fine with no intervention. Relax.
4. ITCHIN' LIKE A MAN ON A FUZZY TREE
Kidney disease, phosphorus, nerve issues—these things make us feel like we've got ants crawling everywhere. My tried and true solution for the last decade has been a hot, like really hot, like almost too hot shower. Best with hand-held shower head to direct to itchiest parts. It’s like a million little nails scratching all at once, and itch calmed for hours. Bliss.
5. NOISE! LIGHTS! ARRGH!!
The machines can be noisy. And some of the newer ones have light up buttons that turn your bedroom into a disco. I keep a foam pad under my machine to muffle a bit of vibration. The HomeChoice Pro has dimness settings to scale it back a bit, and mine used to "wear" a visor—a flap of cardboard taped at the top to cover the screen. For the Amia, I put black electrical tape over the lighted buttons. Peace and (sort of) quiet!
6. THE GREAT FLOOD
Most of us have done it at least once—forgot to clamp the drain bag, and woke up to a shallow lake of yuck on the floor. Use the lid of a large plastic Rubbermaid tote turned upside down under your drain bag. Get one with high edges: the lip around the edge will hold in fluids from potential spills.
7. ARE WE THERE YET?
Travelling by car? Going 3 hours to Aunt Mary's house, and need to do a manual bag? Your sun visor clip makes a perfect hook for your bag! Unclip the visor and move it aside. Hook the full bag to the clip. Put the empty bag on the floor. Proceed just as you would for regular manual PD. Don't forget your red clip to clamp lines. Clamp both lines after disconnecting and the bags won't leak. I have done this as both a driver and a passenger. Bonus tip: turn the defrost on to preheat bags on the dash.
8. ITS TOO HEAVY!
Traveling with your machine can be daunting. The HomeChoice Pro is a heavy son of a gun. Get yourself a collapsible dolly. I have one with a fold out foot and easily extendible/contractable length. It's aluminum and lightweight, but durable and so helpful. My machine also came with a soft carrying case, and my renal team had a hard case we could borrow for flights and longer trips.
9. ARE WE THERE YET? PART II
Worried about traveling with your machine, or crossing the border? No sweat. Have your team prepare you a letter with your name, machine name, info and purpose, stating that it's necessary and life sustaining. I've never had trouble at borders or on cruise ships or airlines when I've carried this with me.
10. WHATS THIS ALL ABOOT, EH?
Canadian PDers—did you know that being on dialysis qualifies you for the Disability Tax Credit? You print a form from gov.ca website, your doctor fills it out, and once it gets processed, BOOM: eight thousand bucks comes off your taxable income. There's then also a Disability RRSP that essentially doubles your contribution. Also, in Ontario, many cities offer free bag tags for garbage if you produce a letter from your PD team showing excess garbage use. Oh Canada!
There is ALWAYS a way to do something, you just need to colour outside of the lines to find creative solutions. You got this, fam.