Stayin’ alive

A kidney dialysis/transplant diary


When I got my paperwork from the Mayo transplant assessment several of the doctors commended me for continuing to work while on dialysis and encouraged me to keep doing so  for as long as possible.

I’m willing, but fiscal responsibility has reared its ugly head in the dialysis world to put obstacles in my path and the other Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday dialyzers who are still working.

Before Tuesday’s treatment, the nurse manager of the unit asked to speak with me privately. “Are you taking me to the woodshed for my T-shirt,” I asked.  I was wearing a cheeky T from ihatedialysis.comthat features a big black skull and crossbones with green dollar signs in the eye sockets and above that the pseudo word die-aly$i$.

No, it wasn’t about the T-shirt, she said rolling her eyes a bit.  When we got into the conference room, she said it was no longer economically feasible for the center to keep the late run on Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday open because there weren’t enough patients to justify the number of staff needed and the other costs associated with keeping the shift open.

I can understand that, but once again it puts me in the position of adjusting my life to suit the disease.  Yes, they can take my treatments to Monday/Wednesday/Friday and give me and earlier treatment time (2 p.m.) but that means I’ll have to adjust my work schedule to 5:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and hope I can make it across town to actually be on the machine by 2. I am lucky that I probably can adjust my work schedule to accommodate that, though I told her I’d like to dialyze as early as possible on Fridays because they’re my “Runaround Sue” days when I take Mom to doc appointments, shop the discount stores, etc. 

It also disrupts my Wednesday night knitting. Harumph. Tonya said that with a 2 p.m. hook up, there should be no problem getting to my 6 p.m. knitting group. 

 I don thin so, Lucy.  My treatments are 41/2 hours.  It takes about 20 minutes to take me off the machine, if everything is going well. 41/2 plus another 1/2 hour comes to 5, on my calculator. And 2 p.m. plus 5 hours comes to 7 p.m. Add the 15 minutes across town to get to the knitting group and I might as well forget it. The coffee shop closes at 8.

On the other hand, as Tevya would say, I won’t have to fly from the Saturday knitting group to make it to an early dialysis hook up.

My plight isn’t as aggravating as a couple of the other patients on the Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday rotation. Both have jobs that are less flexible as far as time is concerned. Both were justifiably upset at the change in an already difficult routine.

Those Tuesdays and Thursdays are very long for me now.  I’m at work by 6, get off at 2, run home to change clothes, put the emla cream on my arm access, and put my feet up for 1/2 an hour before it’s off to dialysis and at least 5 hours of pre-treatment, treatment and post- treatment machinations so it’s at least 8:30 before I’m off treatment. By then, I’m usually so hungry I need to stop on the way home to eat.  That takes it to 10 p.m. usually. Go home and put my feet up for about 1/2 an hour before it’s imperative that I go to bed so I can get at least 6 hours of sleep.

On another note: Why don’t I have any savings? Hmmmmm, could part of it be that I picked up a portion (granted, it’s the largest portion) of my monthly prescriptions yesterday and even with a prescription plan the total was $223.  From now on if someone asks me why I haven’t built a lovely little nest egg I’m going to say that I don’t have issues with saving but I do have illnesses that keep me from saving.

Is that enough whining for one day?




April 25, 2008 - Posted by | diabetes, dialysis, fistula, health, kidney, renal diet, renal recipes, transplant, weight loss


  1. Kathy,

    I’ve worked full-time throughout my eight-year-and-counting dance with dialysis. I was self-employed until 2000 so scheduling wasn’t as much of a problem. But I just didn’t have it in me any longer to put in the 18-hour days that it took.

    So I became gainfully employed — first at Utne Reader until it was sold and now at the University of Minnesota. Both of those employers — one tiny; one huge — bent over backwards to accommodate by schedule. What we discovered worked best was if I was allowed to work from home on dialysis days and then to make up the dialysis time over the course of the week.

    I have a 3:15 p.m. on-time and a four-hour run. My dialysis unit also pulled the “we can’t run shifts as late any more,” so my on-time got moved up to 3:15 p.m. It was an adjustment, but I’ve gotten used to it.

    Comment by Michael Fraase | April 25, 2008 | Reply

  2. I’m sure I’ll adjust, too. And I think part of what I was voicing was for others on the shift who may be affected. I, too, know about the long, long days and weeks (though I’ve never been self-employed).
    And as for losing my Wednesday evening sanity stop (knitting group), when I talked about the switch Saturday a couple of the group said, “Well, we’ll just have to start a Thursday group, too.” Gotta love those gals.

    Comment by iowakitkat | April 28, 2008 | Reply

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