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California —If you ask Paola how she does with the dialysis diet, she’ll flat out tell you, “I cheat.” She explains, “But, I cheat in moderation. I think there’s less effect from going all night.” [Dialyzing more slowly, approximately 8 hours overnight as opposed to 5 hours during the day, may take out more toxins from the blood.] She reports that her levels for potassium and phosphorus are normal but she knows she has to still follow her dialysis diet. Another benefit she’s found is that, “For awhile, food didn’t taste the same — now it tastes the same again.”
Many people who switch to in-center nocturnal dialysis have reported that foods taste better and that they have better appetites, which may be attributed to the extended treatment times. However; even on the longer treatment time provided by in-center nocturnal dialysis, hemodialysis cannot remove all the phosphorus and potassium like fully-functioning kidneys, so the dialysis diet is still an important part of treatment to keep healthy levels.
Paola also says she's happy she can drink a little more fluid now that she’s on nocturnal dialysis. “I used to use water as a crutch in my previous job. I would be on the phone a lot, and if I had to think about what I wanted to say next, I would take a sip of water. When I started dialysis I couldn't drink hardly any water. Now I have a little more flexibility in what I can drink.”
Paola does admit that it takes her a little while to get to sleep at the dialysis center. “But I’m not a good sleeper at home in my own bed with my own pillow either,” she states. The inflation of the blood pressure cuff every hour does stir her, “it squeezes me pretty tight,” she says. But now Paola says her alarm clock is, “All the machines buzzing in the morning.” While her sleep isn’t as restful as she would like, she still reports, “I can work after I get up from the chair.”
The main reason Paola asked to do in-center nocturnal dialysis is to keep her job and her insurance. She was afraid her job wouldn't be able to keep her because she had to take time off for hemodialysis. She also needed to maintain full-time status to keep her insurance benefits. The nighttime dialysis schedule allows her to have a full-time work schedule so she can have the same daytime lifestyle she did before dialysis.
Paola only has one apprehension about hemodialysis. “I’m not looking forward to the needles,” she confesses, adding, “I’ve had the fistula for two months now and it’s getting ready to use. I dread when my doctor is going to say I have to use it.” She has heard that the fistula may provide better treatment, and her doctors and health care team have told her about the potential for infection with the catheter, but still she says, “I like the freedom of the catheter and I can lie down on my side to sleep.” Paola knows she has come a long way and even though the needles scare her, she admits she will probably be able to overcome those fears.
Keeping her full-time work schedule and insurance benefits, as well as enjoying healthier results from her treatment have provided Paola with the freedom and quality of life she enjoys. She is thrilled DaVita has an in-center nocturnal dialysis program, and that she was able to get into the program. “I was expecting to get benefits from nocturnal dialysis — and it’s definitely been all I expected.”
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