My Life As A Kidney Patient
The main purpose of this website is to do with my life as a kidney patient. I was born with Chronic Renal Failure and Bladder Failure although this was not recognised until I was two years old. Since I was two I have had twenty seven operations on my kidneys and my bladder. In September 1996 I started kidney dialysis as my kidneys deteriorated to the extent that I could no longer survive on my own.
There are two main types of dialysis - CAPD which stands for continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis and Heamodiaylsis which is where you have the machine and you have needles connected to your arm. I opted for CAPD.
Before I could start on CAPD I needed an operation to insert a catheter into my peritoneum. This was done on 11th September 1996 and I was in hospital about 10 days but then I went on to the Baxter Training Centre in London to learn how to do CAPD. It is an easy process to do once you learn. The unit is great and my mum came too so she would be able to do it if ever I was ill. Thankfully on CAPD I was very well and never had any problems at all.
So I started CAPD and what it involves is this. Every four hours during the day you have to connect up to the system and drain out the fluid that is inside your peritoneum. Once this has drained out you put in a new bag of fluid. You then leave that inside you for four hours and while it is inside you it is sucking away all the impurities in your blood. When the four hours is up you start the process again and drain out the old stuff and put some fresh stuff in you. Very easy indeed.
However there is also another way which I dialysed for the last year of while I was on dialysis and this was through a machine like the one in the picture on the right.
The machine works in a similar way to CAPD except you do it overnight although you still have to do one normal exchange during the day or most people do, some people may be lucky to just survive on the machine, but it is usual to have to do one CAPD exchange in the day to keep you going until the evening. The machine in the picture is all connected up ready for me to be connected. The patient goes on it for about ten hours each night. The problem with the machine is that it costs £6,300 + VAT. They are very expensive, but they save you dialysing four times a day or some people dialysing five times a day or even six. It depends on the patient. I only did it four times a day.
I obtained my machine through Guy's and St. Thomas Kidney Patient's Association as they ran a scheme whereby the patient fundraises £2000 towards the cost of the machine, then the association pays the rest. So we got some serious fundraising done and raised the £2000. My college, Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education, donated £1500 which was fantastic as it meant I was the fourth person to obtain a machine so I got one when the scheme was fairly new. I was lucky in that respect. The other £500 we raised by dad doing a marathon in Portsmouth. My dad goes running three times a week and takes part in various events and marathons. I recommend the HomeChoice to anyone who finds CAPD too restricting as long as they can get hold of one. I did have a few problems with it in that it beeped alot so I was being kept awake alot in the night because of the alarms but that was because of my position of my catheter not the machine we believe.
Well that is all I can tell you about dialysis. CAPD worked for me and I got through college on it. It was hard work and I could not have got through it without the support of my parents. My mum came down to Cheltenham to help me out every week for a couple of days which was great. I lived in college halls of residence and although it was very noisy it was very convenient for the library and the internet facilities! I have a very very close friend who lives in Seattle. Her name is Heidi, and she is the best! Hi Heidi! Anyway when I was at college I would go on the email about 7pm as we are about 8 hours behind America and we would continually send messages back and forward to each other for about an hour! It was great fun. College was great fun. What I miss most is my friends. I made a lot of great friends at college, too many to list them all here, but we had a super time, and although I keep in touch with them all now and ring them lots it is not the same. They do say that college days are the best days of your life and I certainly believe that! They were for me anyway.
© Claire Ann Stafford 2000