Stayin’ alive

A kidney dialysis/transplant diary

Not again

Thursday, Nov. 2 (I guess it’s actually early Nov. 3)

Target: 6 kilos (left about 1.5 kilos heavier than dry weight Tuesday so my gain was less than 4.5 kilos … not good, but better than it has been the last few weeks)

Cramps: None really, though one tried to creep in the last half hour of treatment.

Blood pressure issues again tonight. It took 45 minutes — and a return of about 500 cc —  to get it straightened out. Arrrgh!

People keep telling me that my attitude is really good. Well, not tonight.  Sure I joke about it: 

When told to think about something that will raise my blood pressure, something that will really get me riled, I reply, “OK, I’ll think about my ex-mother-in-law.” That got the systolic up to 118, but it barely lasted past the weigh out. 

I joke, but inside I’m frustrated and I’m not sure whether it’s at myself or the situation or what.  I want rewards for trying to be good and I have been trying to be good.

The lows started about 3 hours into the 41/2-hour treatment.  I recognized the symptoms: Surrealistic bright auras around the lights and a woozy feeling.  “I think we need to check my blood pressure,” I said.  It looked OK until Gabe, the nurse (Please note: Gabe has informed me he is a paramedic not a nurse so please consider this a correction to the original post) who answered my call, adjusted the cuff. “You’re right as a rose on your nose. It’s 76. I gotta give you some saline back.. 100 or 150.”

So, down went my head, up farther went my feet, off went my target for five minutes and Gabe pushed saline back into my system. That seemed to help.  The flashbulb aura was gone from the lights and I wasn’t quite as woozy.

I stayed in that position for awhile but when at another point, the pressure was sliding too low again and my target was dialed off again for five minutes. That doesn’t sound too bad, but when the target is turned off, you time on treatment stops, too, and you have to make up that time at the end of the treatment. 270 minutes becomes 280 minutes … add the 15 minutes to set up the treatment and the normal 15 minutes to come off treatment and that’s over 5 hours. Add 45 minutes to wait for your blood pressure to come up and it seems i-n-t-e-r-m-i-n-a-b-l-e.

It’s still better than the alternative, you say to yourself, but even that wears a bit thin when you’re befuddled and disoriented because your body is so stressed.  Maybe it will be a little more clear if you think of it this way: If you told a health professional you’d lost 12 pounds in one week, they’d likely tell you it was all water — and of course they’d be right — and then they’d probably smack you up side the head for putting such stress on your body. 

Now, lose 12 pounds in 41/2 hours. Your body is screaming — not so silently — “What the hell do you think you’re doing?  I can’t take this. I’m just gonna shut down.”

If you’re lucky, you’ll pick yourself up off the floor and someone will be nearby who’s savvy enough to force liquids on you to raise that blood pressure again.

It took another 500 cc and the 45 minutes of monitoring to bring my systolic pressure up to 115. We’d take a sitting pressure and it would be within the tolerable limits. Then I’d stand up, feeling nearly OK, until a minute or two would pass. Then it was bright lights and woozy time. Sit down and start all over again.

Gabe, in another stroke of savvy if not genius, decided to rehydrate me by mouth.  Part of the reason was because I was already detached from my umbilical cords and my keg tappers were already capped off. So I got to drink about 15 ounces of cool, clear water all at one time.  “I don’t want low pressures, but this is a pretty great side effect,” I told him. “Do you have any idea how long I’ve been dreaming of doing this, chugging a big icy glass of water? The only thing that would make it better was if it were iced tea…or a beer.”

I actually felt a little waterlogged when I finished. Something new for me since I’ve always loved deep drinks of icy liquid. “But,” Gabe warned me, “if this doesn’t work we’ll have to hook you up again.”

Strange how things … even like low blood pressure — seems to be contagious in a group setting.  There were 9 patients left on the third shift tonight, all coming off treatment at approximately the same time, the very end of the shift.  Six or 7 of us were experiencing problems with low blood pressure all at the same time.  Nurses were flying between patients like frantic humming birds.

From what I overheard, it’s been a tough couple of weeks for several of the patients in my time zone: One broke a shoulder from a fall (possible and probable that phosphorus had pulled too much calcium from her bones making them brittle and more susceptible to breaking); another cracked his head so severely his doctor has ordered CAT scans to make sure the damage is controllable; another’s fistula is not operating correctly so though it’s just been recently usable — you have to wait two months after a fistula is created before it’s usable — she’ll have to have another or a graft placed.  I’m not sure how HIPPA might affect me as a blogger, so I’m not using names here, at least not of the patients.

So where was the bright spot in all this?  I got a long, tall (if you add the three glasses together) drink of icy water, enough to quench my thirst for a few minutes anyway, and I enjoyed every last drop and chewing the ice, too.

Also, had a nice chat with a fellow patient who showed me her mother’s beautiful handiwork on some greeting cards and found a great one for a baby gift for my surrogate grandson.

Had an excellent meal afterward — with only a scant cup of coffee — that shouldn’t be too bad for a renal diabetic diet (grilled scallops and shrimp on cous cous with balsamic vinegar and pesto). My compliments to the chef, and I did send them to him.  Wish I could recreate it home and I think I’ll try.

Life is still good.

Tomorrow I start getting things ready for the drive to Rochester.  I’ll have a laptop with me, so the blogging will continue.



November 2, 2007 - Posted by | diabetes, dialysis, health, kidney, transplant


  1. I’m curious as to why you have chosen Rochester, when UIHC is at your back door? Maybe I didn’t read closely enough…maybe you’ve already answered that question?

    Good luck on your Rochester appointments. I will keep you in my thoughts.

    Comment by orange gearle | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  2. The reasons I chose Mayo are personal. 1)I had both good and bad experiences with loved ones being cared for at UIHC and the last experience left me questioning the quality of care though I will admit it had nothing to do with the transplantation center 2) I’ve been told that UIHC is very picky about weight when it comes to transplants. I have always had a weight problem and diabetes and renal failure has made it even more difficult to lose weight. My age doesn’t help there either. 3) I have a very small family and a cousin, more like a sister to me than a cousin, lives only 50 miles away from Rochester. She’ll be my support person on this trip and when I first considered Mayo’s, I thought I might well stay with her family but the idea of appointments starting at 6 or 7 a.m. made the idea of the morning 50-mile drive unappetizing and the thought of driving 50 miles following dialysis made the return trip less than appealing so I’ve reserved a hotel room.

    Comment by iowakitkat | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  3. […] iowakitkat placed an observative post today on Not again.Here’s a quick excerpt:Strange how things … even like low blood pressure — seem to be contagious in a group setting. There were 9 patients left on the third shift tonight, all coming off treatment at approximately the same time. … […]

    Pingback by » Not again | November 15, 2007 | Reply

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