Medical science has allowed human beings to lead longer lives than once was thought possible, and part of these advances is the implementation of at-home dialysis treatment. Given the prognosis of either chronic disease of a vital organ or total organ failure, survival was not imaginable. Now, dialysis allows those with major kidney malfunction to lead longer lives.
The questions that remain regarding at-home dialysis, however, are due, in part, to the unknowns surrounding how it works and what will become of not only the patient but also his/her family. As was the case with our ancestors, a lack of knowledge on a topic led to a creation of a mythology surrounding that which we didn’t know.
Here are five prevalent myths about at-home dialysis treatment and the information you need to actually know:
1. “Dialysis treatment of any kind is going to be painful.” You shouldn’t experience pain during your treatments, notify someone ASAP. There are some patients experience low blood pressure, which can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, or cramps, but this is not the case for the majority of patients.
2. “Because of my treatments, I’ll always be stuck at home.” You can actually travel on dialysis, but it requires a little forethought planning. In that respect, perhaps the quick road-trips may be impacted. For those on home dialysis, you can work with your dialysis team (your doctors, caregiver, and possibly a social worker) to have supplies to be delivered ahead of your prospective travel so that you’ll meet them at your destination. Plus, a number of home dialysis machines come with a traveling case.
3. “I won’t be able to work anymore.” If there is one thing that dialysis does not aim to do is take away your independence. Yes, your life has changed in a major way, but unless you’ve been told that it poses a significant threat to your health, going to work or school is still a part of their lives.
4. “Dialysis costs too much, which means I can’t afford it.” Between aid from the state and federal governments and support from private health insurance, cost should not be the reason to be unable to afford your treatments. If, however, you are experiencing financial woes, there may be resources available to help.
5. “I’m no longer important enough to listen to because of this machine.” Dialysis patients, either going to a treatment center or maintaining treatment at home, may be hit by waves of emotion due to their new circumstances. Part of these emotions may include feeling as though they are not being listened to and that their input means nothing. As the patient, you are the most essential part of the process. Keep in mind that patients have a Bill of Rights that is in place to make sure patients are being heard while also having tenets regarding quality care and privacy.
At-home dialysis treatments, or dialysis as a whole, is not a death sentence. By virtue of the life-saving procedure, those whose lives would have been lost before now have a chance to still lead productive lives. By talking to your doctor and understanding what is involved in your treatment, you become an active part of your own well-being.