The Dialysis Experience

Where will my dialysis treatments be completed?                                    
Hemodialysis treatments are performed at home by a certified dialysis nurse or by certified personnel in a dialysis clinic.  Peritoneal dialysis treatments are performed at home by the patient with weekly supervision from a dialysis clinic.
Will dialysis cure kidney disease?
No, dialysis will not do this.  A person will need to have dialysis treatments for their entire life unless they are able to get a kidney transplant. Life expectancy on dialysis will vary depending on your medical condition, how well you are able to follow the treatment plan, and other medical problems you have.  Your treatment team, your adherence, and your overall health will play a huge factor in your lifespan.
Is Dialysis Uncomfortable?
There is some discomfort.  When the needles are put into the access there will be some pain but, medications are available to control this.  The treatment itself does not hurt but there can be some side effects that are uncomfortable.
Is Dialysis expensive?
Treatments for kidney failure are expensive.  Fortunately private and group health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid usually cover payment for dialysis services. Not all insurances will pay for all types of dialysis.  Arrangements for Medicare coverage was established many years ago for those under and over 65 years old. This means that if the person paid into the social security system they will probably be eligible for Medicare coverage at some point. Individual health plans offered because of The Affordable Care Act, or Medicaid may be an option. The dialysis or transplant center will help to figure out your insurance options, and how much you will be expected to pay out of pocket.
Will I ever be normal?
You will have to develop a new normal. You will need to adjust to the changes in your life because of the need for consistent treatments. With treatment you will feel better because dialysis and controlling blood chemistries will cause you to feel better.    However, the whole dialysis process can take up to a year to truly get comfortable with the process. 
Can I be employed?
Yes, a significant number of people on dialysis can work and lead normal lives. Adjustments will be necessary to accommodate the dialysis schedule and the way you feel.  If your job has a lot of physical labor involved, you might not be able to do this.
Can I travel?
Yes, peritoneal dialysis is very portable.  There is the ability to get hemodialysis in most cities, every state, and all over the world.  Treatments are standardized, but the spontaneity of getting up and just going will not be possible.  Travel has to be arranged and planned for in advance.
How will I control my diet?
People on dialysis must follow a special diet.  Many foods will not be allowed because they cause the body chemistry to be off balance.  The diet will vary according to the type of dialysis.  The treatment team will advise you on the special renal diet that is appropriate for you.
Is there a way to know if the blood is being cleaned enough?
If there are too many toxins in the blood you will feel bad.  The treatment team will use the scientific way of knowing the amount of waste products cleared from the body through blood testing called the Urea Reduction Ratio (URR) and KT/V (dialysis clearance, dialysis time, volume).  One of the goals of the dialysis treatment is to meet the pre-established goal for cleaning after each treatment.