Dialysis patients: How a finger can save your life when your fistula bleeds
Reprinted with permission from https://www.kamaldshah.com/2022/12/dialysis-patients-how-finger-can-save.html. Originally published on December 03, 2022.
I had a scary episode this Wednesday.
After a fistula infection in July, the infected site had healed but a crust started forming over it making it about a centimeter thick. After my morning shower, that crust fell off resulting in rapid bleeding from the site. Blood was gushing out with such force that within seconds there was blood on the walls and on the floor. As soon as I realised, I used my forefinger and pressed hard at the site.
I quickly reached out to my family who rushed me to the nearby hospital. All this while, I did not release my finger. I did not peek to check if the bleeding had stooped either. At the hospital, they checked the site and found that the bleeding had stopped. I was relieved.
During a time of emergency like this, people often flounder and do things they are not supposed to do and in fact, make things worse.
Remember, in case you are in a similar situation, when a site from your fistula starts gushing blood, do the following:
- Use your forefinger to apply direct pressure on the bleeding site. Do not search for sterile gauze etc. The chance that you get infected due to this is low and even if you do, it can be treated. However, if you delay in applying pressure, the blood loss may be too great to ever recover from.
- Apply this pressure for a minimum of 10 minutes without lifting the finger.
- Try to keep your arm above the level of the heart. Have someone help to hold it, if needed.
- Go to a hospital where they have a dialysis or nephrology department for further examination and action.
Some people recommend an inverted bottle cap. However, the trouble with this is finding a bottle cap when the event happens. That is why, I prefer using the finger. It is always with you!
Remember - apply direct pressure with your finger, raise above the heart, hold for 10 minutes.
Please share this tip with all dialysis patients you know. It could save their life.