Levi's Nightly Dialysis Routine
One of the things that effects Levi every day is having to be on his peritoneal dialysis (PD) machine each night for 11 hours. I wanted to give you a brief look at what that looks like.
Peritoneal dialysis is different from hemodialysis. In hemodialysis the patient’s blood is directly cleaned. Hemodialysis needs to be done every couple of days and often the patients feel pretty tired and generally worn down by the time they need to have a dialysis treatment. With PD, which is what Levi has done, the patient most often will have the dialysis treatment every night or every other and it is much gentler on the patient. They also don’t begin to feel as bad as hemodialysis patients because they have treatments more often.
Levi has a dialysis catheter in his belly. The catheter leads into his peritoneal cavity. When he is hooked up to his dialysis machine dialysis fluid is pumped into his peritoneal cavity. The fluid will then sit in his peritoneal cavity for sixty minutes. During that time, through the process of osmosis, all of the stuff that his kidneys are supposed to clean out but don’t is absorbed into the dialysis fluid. Then at the end of the hour the fluid is pumped out into a drain bag. This process is done 11 times each night.
Andrew and I, we have a list of things we do each night to prepare Levi and the PD machine. We have to clean the surfaces in his room where we will be laying out supplies, prepare the supplies for his dressing (we keep a dressing over the area where his catheter enters his belly), and set up the machine with dialysis fluid and drain bag. All of this has to be done with clean hands and face masks on. Next we need to weigh Levi, change his dressing, clean his g-tube (the button where we attach a tube for his feedings overnight), and finally hook him up to the machine. Once he is hooked up to the machine, has his feeding tube hooked up, and his first round of medicine, he is good to go.
Throughout the night if Levi doesn’t drain enough fluid the machine will beep and alert us that we need to reposition Levi so that he can drain a proper amount of fluid for the machine to continue. He also will often have gas that makes him uncomfortable, we can go in and relieve this for him through his g-tube. We will have to refresh his overnight food and add some additional medicine as well.
Now imagine having to travel. And taking ALLLL of this stuff with you and hopefully not forgetting any of it (this has happened and it sucked). Or wanting to go and do something as a family in the evening. Right now Levi needs to be hooked up by 7:00 pm in order for him to be finished in time in the morning so we are able to get to work and day care. Doing anything together in the evenings outside of the house is really not an option for us and that is no fun. Also, due to the PD process being so involved and all of the variables that could happen at night, Andrew and I are not able to get Levi a sitter to go out by ourselves in the evening either, which also sucks.
These are the facts of our everyday right now. We are happy to do this as it keeps Levi healthy and happy. But it does get wearing over time.
We are so excited to know that once Levi has a new kidney, we won’t have to do ANY OF THE ABOVE THINGS! Will we still want to keep good bedtimes and routines? Sure, but we will have the option to do something fun and a little late every once in a while. We won’t turn into world travelers, but we would have the option and we can travel A LOT lighter.
There are innumerable benefits to Levi getting a new kidney, just getting rid of the dialysis alone will be huge.