Stayin’ alive

A kidney dialysis/transplant diary

Cool, clear water

Going to dialysis last night was a warm fuzzy.

My primary nurse, Jane, greeted me good naturedly with “You can come right back, Miss Celebrity Star.” Other nurses joined in with similar comments. Jan said “the story sounded just like you” and told me the nurses that were off duty and most of the patients who were on treatment during the midday news broadcast had tuned in to see the TV interview. “You really represented,” one nurse said.

Fellow patients and family members took the time to compliment me on the first person newspaper story. Simply put, I was touched.

There were only a couple of down sides to the treatment: I gained too much fluid over the weekend; my blood pressure was too low at the end of treatment so the nurse gave me back 300 cc of saline solution and it took about 15 minutes extra before I felt I could stand and walk without toppling to the floor; and, of course, my butt felt numb before it was all over. 

I have to find the key to keeping my fluid intake below what it has been. I haven’t strayed far from the 48-ounce per day allotment, but it seems my body is retaining every drop of that liquid.  My target Tuesday was much too high, over 7 kilos that translates to over 15 pounds.  We went for 6 kilos and would have made it if the nurse hadn’t had to return 300 cc to bring my blood pressure up.

That liquid restriction is tough, as most of my fellow patients know. It’s a total of a quart and a half of liquid per day. That allotment includes all liquids — soups, coffee whitener, anything that melts at room temperature. 

It may sound more than adequate, but not for me. I’ve always loved a big, icy glass of water or iced tea and I’ve spent a lot of years in newsrooms which usually means you have a cup of coffee in front of you at all times.  I love my liquids.  Also, I am diabetic and diabetes can cause increased thirst. I love my liquids and I thirst for my liquids.

Of course, several years ago when the “popular press,” TV doctors, etc. were touting the health benefits of drinking lots of water, I trained myself to drink at least … that’s at least … 8 full glasses of water a day.  That was in addition to the other liquids I consumed. 

So, how do I handle it now? I’m trying. When the pre-treatment question of “excessive thirst” is asked, I generally answer: “I don’t know if my thirst is excessive but it certainly is obsessive.”

I start obsessing about my liquid intake as soon as I get up in the morning and take my handful of meds: “OK, that was 4 ounces … that leaves me 44 ounces. How much can I drink at breakfast and still have enough to quench my thirst during the day?

I cram a 16-ounce glass full of ice which leaves about 8 ounces for liquid and I don’t refill it but I do chew the ice after the liquid is gone (too soon, too soon). I figure the ice trick saves me at least 2 ounces and probably closer to 3.

I try to monitor the liquid I drink during a meal, but I now know I like to include lots of liquid as I eat. So even though I start the morning thinking I’ll not drink much at breakfast, just save the liquid for later in the morning, I look at the glass at the end of breakfast and ice is about the only thing left.

I’ve abandoned the 20-ounce pop machine for the 12-ounce and only go there at lunch time. If I go to a restaurant I ask them to cram the glass with ice and even tell the waitperson I’m on a liquid restricted diet and not to refill my glass even if I beg.

I try very hard to stay within the restrictions and I think I do fairly well, but the weekend leaves me feeling defeated and hanging my head at the Tuesday weigh-in.

I daydream about once again about being able to chug a glass of icy tea without a second thought instead of sipping and wondering “how long can I make this last?”

Last night, Trista, in the recliner next to me, was expressing similar feelings to her nurse. “I think about every drink I take,” she said in an exasperated voice. “And feel guilty about it,” I added silently.  I think we all do.

Water is one of the necessities of life and to deny yourself a necessity ain’t easy.

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October 31, 2007 - Posted by | dialysis, health, kidney, transplant

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