Stayin’ alive

A kidney dialysis/transplant diary

Goodbye, Sylvia

Sylvia passed away Tuesday.

I asked about her at Tuesday’s treatment, but the dialysis unit had not yet been informed of her death. “Every single patient I’ve had today has asked the same thing,” Gabe said. He said he expected her to “withdraw” from treatment.

It was not unexpected of course. She was 94 (according to her obituary. Sorry for adding 3 years, Sylvia.) and dialysis can be a strain on even young pups like me (61). But I’ll miss her spirit.

I think that’s the third death in less than a month and that’s enough for me, thank you.  Each one is pause for reflection, at least for me and I think that’s probably true of many of the patients on the unit.

Lately my thoughts have been running along the lines of “so, you’ve been on dialysis for a little over a year.  That’s a year’s worth of ‘extra’ living. What have you done with it? Have you enjoyed it? Appreciated the fact that you’re still here? Noticed something that made you stop to think you were lucky to be here to notice it?

I don’t obsess over the situation, but I do think about it – and life in general – much more than I did a couple of years ago.   

One of the downsides of having dialysis patients in a separate unit is there is so little opportunity to see a progression to wellness. Just hanging on to the status quo can be an accomplishment for dialysis patients.  Many are in and out of the hospital and when they do “withdraw” it seems to sneak up on us other patients: See someone at treatment on Tuesday and they may look a little tired, a bit pale, not be feeling well and by Saturday – or Thursday, for that matter – they’re dead.

Kidney failure and dialysis puts different strains with different side effects on your body.  It’s also hard on your immune system so you become more susceptible to the viruses and germs floating in the air.  You’re already sick on dialysis and the dialysis itself sets you up for more illnesses.

The result seems – in my vast year’s experience, she said with tongue firmly planted in cheek – that you watch people struggling, instead of to get well, to not get any sicker. No wonder transplant shines like the sole beacon of hope.

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April 10, 2008 - Posted by | diabetes, dialysis, fistula, health, kidney, renal diet, renal recipes, transplant, weight loss

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