Kidney Dialysis FAQS

Having kidney disease isn’t exactly the life we all imagined we’re going to live. Finding out that you have to go through countless dialysis treatments is truly disconcerting and frightening all at once. For both the patients and their loved ones, anxious thoughts such as “What is dialysis? Will it hurt?” “Will I be attached to a machine for the rest of my life?” “How will my family be affected? How will my life change?” easily come about.

However, all these fears can slowly be taken away once you familiarise yourself with the topic of kidney dialysis. In this page, we hope to provide useful answers to your concerns and take away the stigma revolving around kidney dialysis.

As a starter, we like our patients to know that although kidney failure is irreversible, going on dialysis treatment is not “the end” of their lives. As a matter of fact, dialysis is a life saving treatment.  Approaching dialysis with a positive outlook and committing to make necessary lifestyle adjustments will help you continue to live well and lead productive a life.

Are you about to start your first dialysis treatment at our dialysis centre? That’s great! You are one step closer to coping with your kidney disease. Some people feel better within the first month of dialysis while others take a few months more. As the days come closer to your first kidney dialysis session, you will have some questions and anxious moments. Don’t worry, that is just normal. The best thing to do is learn as much as you can to prepare yourself.

Q: How does dialysis feel?

A: At the beginning, needles may cause a pinch of pain going in, but the pain should stop after that. Dialysis itself shouldn’t be painful. However, because the effects of kidney dialysis vary from one person to another, uncomfortable side effects such as nausea, vomiting, itchiness and muscle cramps may occur. If this happens, kindly inform your healthcare team. This is your first dialysis session and adjustments may have to be made with your treatment plan to relieve your discomfort and ensure that an optimal treatment is delivered to you.

Q: How long does a dialysis session take?

A: Each treatment takes about 4 to 5 hours and is carried out thrice a week on alternate days.

Q: Do I need to get into a special diet?

A: Yes, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t have delicious food anymore. Rather, you will have to be careful with your nutrient intake.

Dialysis diet varies depending on the condition of your kidneys and the modality of your kidney dialysis treatment. Your healthcare team will work with you on this and let you know what specific diet program you should follow. To give you a general idea, dialysis diets usually focus on controlling specific nutrients such as sodium, protein, potassium, and phosphorus, as they affect the overall effectiveness of your treatment and well being.

Q: Can I still travel while I’m on dialysis?

A: Yes, most patients are able to travel safely while undergoing treatment. As a matter of fact, going on a quick getaway and getting a much-needed vacation is a great motivator. Before packing your bags, you will have to make arrangements with a dialysis centre with regards to your travel destination. To ensure that you will still be able to continue receiving adequate kidney dialysis, your healthcare team will assist you with the arrangements. You will also have to check with your team first if you are stable enough to travel.

Q: Should I quit exercising once I start with my dialysis?

A: No, don’t quit exercising. You are encouraged to get up and exercise. Keeping yourself active will make you feel stronger, increase your endurance, and keep fatigue at bay. Patients who suffer from sleep deprivation during treatments say that doing some exercise help them get a good night’s sleep and are more able to cope with their treatments. Again, check with your healthcare team on which type of exercise is best suited for you.

Q: Can I get pregnant while on dialysis?

A: As conditions vary from one woman to another, the answer depends. Circumstances are complex when kidney disease is added to the picture. You and your partner have to decide on the risk you’re willing to take. It’s best to consult with your doctor as well to ensure you are safe to carry a baby while on kidney dialysis.

TIPS ON PREPARING FOR YOUR FIRST DIALYSIS SESSION

You’re about to embark on a life-changing journey. What needs to be prepared?

    • Pay a visit to the centre: You will be spending at least 12 hours per week in your chosen centre. Visiting it before your first treatment can help you prepare for what you are about to experience. It is important to ask as many questions as possible while you are there. You can never ask too many questions when it comes to starting kidney dialysis.
    • Be on time: Arrive at the centre at least 15 minutes ahead of your appointment and let your healthcare team know you have arrived.
    • Wear comfortable clothes: Because you’ll be spending a couple of hours in a dialysis centre during each kidney dialysis session, it is important to dress comfortably. Also, wear a clothing that will make it easy for your healthcare team to reach your access, and avoid wearing something that can cause an interruption to your dialysis session.
    • Bring something to munch on: Especially if you are diabetic, it will be helpful to bring something that you can snack on, so you won’t have to worry about getting hungry.
    • Bring a small pillow and a blanket: If these can make you comfortable during your kidney dialysis session, feel free to do so. It can help you feel a little more cozy, warm, and relaxed during the treatment.
    • Pack the following ahead of time: Treat the following as a checklist for the necessary documents you need to bring for your first session with us. These documents will provide us with important clinical, medication, and funding information for us to plan an optimal and stress-free course of treatment for you.
      • Memo from your hospital
      • Hospital discharge summary
      • Last 3 kidney dialysis treatment records (if there’s any)
      • List of all your medications
      • Medisave balance statement
      • Insurance policy and plan
      • Identification card
    • Bring something that will keep you busy: You’re going to be spending a significant amount of time in the dialysis centre during your kidney dialysis sessions. The good thing is, you can do other things so long they won’t hinder your treatment. Your dialysis sessions are a great time to tick-off entries from your to-do list—read a new book, listen to a podcast, study, or catch up with family and friends on social media.

Kidney dialysis may not be the best, most exciting thing in your life right now, but it is certainly not the worst. Changes are inevitable, because adjustments have to be made to facilitate dialysis in your life. However, it does not mean you have to put your life ‘on hold’. Despite the restrictions in your time, stay involved as much as practically possible with your other interests such as family activities, work, education, and leisure pursuits.

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