By Jack Reynolds, DPC Board Member and Patient Ambassador

This Christmas of 2014, I will have completed four decades of in-center hemodialysis. As this amount of time surviving with a kidney machine as a life partner is fairly rare, I feel that it would be a good idea to discuss or maybe vent my soul about my experience as a dialysis citizen and how it has affected my outlook on life. I plan to keep my blogs fairly short and to only touch on one or two points of interest or boredom, as the case may be, for anyone who reads this.

I must apologize right now to the many motivated and independent folks who use a home modality for their dialysis treatments because I have no experience in this area, and it is doubtful I ever will. However, what if that care-giver that helps you dialyze at home is no longer available to assist you or your supplies for home treatment are interrupted? Not the kind of scenario that is appealing to contemplate. Unfortunately, this is a constant concern for many citizens who dialyze in a provider facility and who interact with the same staff for extended periods of time and come to rely on them for not only their actual dialysis procedure, but many times as a friend and confidant.

Well it is easy to give the advice to not allow one to become too emotionally attached to a nurse or technician, but anyone who has been exposed to the clinic environment for any length of time finds that staff turnover is more or less a constant issue and source of anxiety. I insulated myself to some extent over the years by self-cannulation and keeping my interaction with staff to a minimum. Over the past couple of years due to shaky hands, I have been put in the position of needing my arterial needle stuck for me. After over 35 years of placing my own needles, I have had to make the adjustment of accepting the reality once again of placing my trust in a rotating group of caregivers that can change from one treatment to the next.

Having to rely on staff has, frankly, made me a more friendly patient, but I will always preach the mantra that the more that a kidney patient can do for themselves in regards to their care, no matter how slight, will pay off in understanding their body and help give them some confidence that when that favorite dialysis clinic staff person moves on, the emotional effects may be a little less traumatic.