By David Myers BEM (Life President. RFHKPA)
I am a big supporter of home dialysis but in particular home haemodialysis. It made a big difference to the way in which I was able to conduct my life and carry on working.
It’s now about 30 years since I started haemodialysis as an inpatient and after the first year, the Royal Free renal team suggested that because of my lifestyle, I would be well suited to carrying out haemodialysis (HD) at home. So, my wife and I started a period of training and I was quite excited about the additional freedom dialysing at home would give to me.
Setting up the HD machine at home was easy
I understand that anyone considering home dialysis needs to think about the amount of space that’s going to be taken out with not only the machine but storing all of the necessary accessories. The HD machine takes up space and needs to be plumbed in to the mains water. I was fortunate that my office/study had space for the machine and a comfy chair. The plumbing was relatively easy as the room had an en suite bathroom/toilet. Everything was taken care of by very efficient Royal Free technicians.
A haemo dialysis patient happily carrying out his treatment in his specially prepared treatment room at home.
Start times were set to suit my working day
So, once we had finished the training sessions, I was able to plan when I would schedule my treatment sessions. I was never very good at arriving for a morning session in the dialysis unit, nor did the evening sessions suit me with all the responsibilities I had running a business with staff who were depending on me for their living. So, I decided that I would dialyse Tuesday evening, Thursday morning and Sunday anytime. I was dialysing 5 hours each session and towards the latter part of this experience 5 and a half hours. That meant I only had to miss one half day of work and that had relatively little impact on my availability for my clients or my staff.
During the first three or four years of dialysing at home Martha and I coped pretty well, although I admit it put considerable strain on her as I wasn’t able to commit myself to exact start times. There were occasions we finished quite late but overall, we both managed and there were very few incidents of concern. As time went by and my health was slowly deteriorating, I had to prune the size of my business to concentrate on fewer clients. It became very tiring for me to go out to see clients as often as I had done previously. And eventually in the last year before I got my first kidney transplant, I had to close my business as it was impossible to carry on, due to my overall health.
We enjoyed plenty of holidays in Europe
David, Martha & David’s mum Annie, on holiday in Spain. Happy days!
On the positive side, during 8+ years of HD we made sure we had plenty of holidays and in those days, it was relatively straightforward to find dialysis units within the EU, in Italy, Spain, and France. We found very reliable dialysis satellite units in or close to holiday towns. I would take my own dialysers so there would be little difference between how I was dialysed abroad and how I dialysed at home.
Think about having an HD machine at home
It surprises me that now, although we have lots of patients carrying out peritoneal dialysis at home, there are still very few patients carrying out home haemodialysis. If it’s a space problem that’s understandable. If some patients live on their own or don’t trust themselves to be able to carry out the dialysis treatment with or without a partner, then again that’s understandable. But there are nursing advice and technical support available, if you are worried about how you would cope, and in the case of illness, you can always dialyse at a satellite for a period. There must be lots of patients who really could make a difference to their lifestyle and/or the hours they can work if they had an HD machine at home.
When I think about my fellow dialysis patients at that time who were dialysing in satellite units, I considered that thankfully I could get on with whatever I wanted to do whilst on dialysing, peacefully – no other machine alarm beeping; I could listen to music, watch the TV channel of my choice and make phone calls without worrying about disturbing others. That was a real benefit bearing in mind the long hours of treatment. I remembered the times in the unit when the dialysis machine was not ready or I had to wait for a nurse. At home, I was in charge of when I started treatment. And for those patients reliant on hospital transport, think how much time you would save not being reliant on transport. Think of the occasions you were frustrated because of waiting for transport, going in or coming home from the unit!
So if you can see some sense in how I have reviewed the benefits of home haemo dialysis, please talk to your named or lead nurse to be able to find out more information.
Home HD gives you extra freedom in your life. You carry out the treatment at times to suit you and you CAN avoid time spent travelling to and from your dialysis unit.
If you want to contact me, please send me an email at: