A Very Thankful Thanksgiving

This blog post was made by Erich Ditschman on November 23, 2023.
A Very Thankful Thanksgiving

By Erich Ditschman (Originally posted to LinkedIn)

I love working with Andria Ditschman, my high school sweetie, spouse, and living kidney donor, on a project. Last week we closed out this year's National Kidney Foundation Project Echo Home Dialysis with the last segment of the year. Our topic was care partners.

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Home Dialysis Care Partners

While we've been together since the early eighties, I have been fortunate to have Drea as my home hemo dialysis care partner since 2001.
We discussed what Dori Schatell describes as the continuum of care during our didactic and what that has meant to us.

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In our case, Drea did everything when in 2001 when we came home with a reverse osmosis system and a full size dialysis machine, and I worked as a water resource consultant. Then I moved to the PD cycler and manual exchanges and took charge. I did the same when I switched to NxStage System One in 2006 and Pureflow in 2008. That year I also switched to nocturnal home hemodiaysis. Drea would step into help when I was under the weather. But, I prided myself on protecting her time with our children and on independently taking care of myself.

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But last Thanksgiving, bacteremia affected my back, my vascular graft burst open, and MRSA impacted my heart and shoulder, so we reverted to me needing Andria 100% for dialysis, mobility, and basic help.

Slowly, over months, we returned to home hemo. The worst of the pain left my back, my shoulder and back were rehabbed and I eventually didn't need the walker. My mobility returned.

We learned to use my new chest catheter as I underwent surgeries to build a new fistula. Once it was mature, I returned to sticking myself and the catheter was removed. It was like starting to learn home hemodialysis again.

Over the last few months, I've regained the strength to set up my machine, program it, and hook up. But, we still share some of these steps. I'm not sure why I'm not as respective of her time as I was at the beginning. But I have a hunch that I just want to spend more time with her.

When I was rushed to the OR last Thanksgiving, the surgeon told Drea that we just want to get him off the table. She sat alone in the waiting room for the next four hours.

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We are back to traveling, advocating for kidney patients, and spending time with our children, friends, and family. I'm not quite as I was before the infection, but I'm getting closer.

Because of my care partner and many others this will be a very thankful Thanksgiving.

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