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California — Anna is fully reclined in her dialysis chair. It’s almost 10:00 p.m. and her hemodialysis treatment began about an hour-and-a-half ago. The 78-year-old grandmother started in-center nocturnal dialysis on June 1, twenty days before this interview.
When asked how she's feeling, Anna answers, “Excellent!” She adds, “I was going downhill before and now I feel excellent.”
Anna’s kidneys failed three years ago in September. Previous to in-center nocturnal hemodialysis she was doing daytime hemodialysis in the same dialysis center. She found out about in-center nocturnal dialysis through a booklet her son read to her. “And, he wants to come here, too,” states Anna. Her son also has kidney failure. He wants to keep his job and the idea of dialyzing overnight appeals to him.
In-center nocturnal dialysis sounded attractive to Anna when she found out it would happen overnight. “I’m a good sleeper,” she shares, adding, “And, that’s all I have to do here.” Anna says she has no trouble sleeping through the night at her center, and that the inflation of the blood pressure cuff that has to monitor her each hour does not disturb her sleep. “This is my slumber party!” Anna exclaims.
In addition to the convenience of having dialysis treatment overnight, Anna says she appreciates how much better she feels. “Before I was tired all the time, but now my family tells me to take it easy. I made 15 pies today,” beams Anna.
Anna says one of the things that made her most happy about her renewed energy is that she can take care of people again. “Now I can do things for my family .I always had a house full of children — that was my work, taking in children and caring for them. See those two girls?” Anna asks, pointing to the nighttime nurse and patient care technician, “I call them the twins, because they remind me of twin girls I used to take care of. When I told these twins I was going to the nighttime, and I would miss them, they said, ‘We are too,’ and we were so happy. At DaVita, they care. I protested a lot in the beginning when I first got on dialysis. But they always treat me so well.”
Feeling better has given Anna a better appetite. “I’ve gained four pounds,” she whispers. Despite some cheating on her dialysis diet, Anna reports that her phosphorus and potassium levels are good, although her protein was a little too low. Anna’s renal dietitian is working with her to get the protein levels up and to keep her phosphorus and potassium at healthy levels.
When asked why she thinks she's feeling so much better doing nocturnal dialysis, Anna answers “I’m getting all cleaned out” Anna smiles, “I feel healthy all around.”
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