Needle Sticks


Granted in order to be hooked up to the machine, you will need to be stuck with needles:

  1. for the Arterial side and
  2. for the Venous side

But you can numb the area ahead of time with cream.

Ask you doctor about a numbing cream, I use a lidocaine and Prilocaine cream.

My insurance always gives me a hard time about filling this prescription.  So I have a back up of lidocaine cream.

Either way the best way to use it, about 45 minutes to an hour.  Put generous amount of cream on the area (glop it on) and wrap the area in plastic wrap.


Even though dialysis is a lifesaving treatment you may or may not experience some of the related conditions listed below, it varies from person to person.  Your dialysis team can help you cope with them.

  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
    • It is common for your blood pressure to decrease as you dialyze, but if too much fluid is being taken off as you dialyze, then your blood pressure could drop significantly, causing more issues.
  • Dizziness
    • One of the side effects of low blood pressure. Be sure to let your nurse/tech know and they most likely will help you be more comfortable.  I personally eat salty snacks while dialyzing – salt increases your blood pressure.
  • Muscle cramps
    • Can be very painful, but usually a side effect of taking off too much fluid.  Be sure to let your nurse/tech know and they most likely will help you be more comfortable, by massaging or having your partner massage the affected area and give you some saline.  Unfortunately there is not much you can do, until it passes.
  • Nausea/Vomiting
    • Another side effect of taking off too much fluid while dialyzing. Of course always notify your nurse.  If you are having symptoms at home, then notify your nurse and/or doctor for a prescription that can help.
  • Headache
    • causes may include hypertension (high blood pressure), hypotension (low blood pressure), high sodium intake, and a possible connection with low magnesium.”  If you find that you are having continuing headaches, you should notify your doctor.
  • Itchy skin
    • I have always had dry/itchy skin, however an excess of phosphorus in your blood can cause that.  Check here for more information about that.
  • Insomnia
    • “People receiving hemodialysis often have trouble sleeping, sometimes because of breaks in breathing during sleep (sleep apnea) or because of aching, uncomfortable or restless legs.”
  • Infection (to access site)
    • Keep your access always clean and dry, this is your lifeline and an infection can put you in the hospital.
  • Bleeding
    • If your site hasn’t clotted enough, there is still a chance for bleeding.  Keep a watch on your site as you leave the dialysis center; if you still in the area (of your dialysis center) then return quickly so they can help you stop the bleeding.
  • Anemia
    •  “Not having enough red blood cells in your blood (anemia) is a common complication of kidney failure and hemodialysis. Failing kidneys reduce production of a hormone called erythropoietin (uh-rith-roe-POI-uh-tin), which stimulates formation of red blood cells. Diet restrictions, poor absorption of iron, frequent blood tests, or removal of iron and vitamins by hemodialysis also can contribute to anemia.”  
  • Fatigue
    • One of side effects of anemia, also if you are not getting enough sleep, then that can contribute too.
  • Shortness of Breath
    • “kidney failure is sometimes confused with asthma or heart failure, because fluid can build up in the lungs.”
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
    • is another common side effect that causes patients to keep moving their legs as a result of the leg nerves and muscles creating a crawly or prickly sensation. Restless leg syndrome can be tied to some forms of kidney disease, diabetes, hardening of the arteries, or a vitamin B deficiency, so it’s important to speak to your healthcare provider for a diagnosis and a prescription which will address the specific cause
  • Confusion
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Increased potassium in blood
    • Potassium is a mineral that is normally removed from your body by your kidneys. If you consume more potassium than recommended, your potassium level may become too high. In severe cases, too much potassium can cause your heart to stop.
  • Hair loss
    • No one tells you, but you could lose your hair; hair problems can occur before or after you start dialysis.  I am on Dialyvite, it is a vitamin which you can get over the counter or by prescription.  Ask your doctor.






So, being a dialysis patient – the chemical elements that your kidneys would usually filter out, now you have to watch in your diet.

Watch foods that are high in:

You should also watch your calcium and increase your protein.  My dietitian gave me this list, which has been very valuable.


This is also helpful:


Working and Medicare


If you can continue to work, do so.   If your employer will work with you with your dialysis.  I am lucky my employer works with me and I do continue to work full-time.    Check into intermittent FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) and ADAA (American with Dialysis Act Amendments Act) paperwork with your human resources department.

Technically you are considered disabled.  You can apply for disability benefits, however you have to make less than $1,000.00 a month (if you are working).    This may vary from state to state.

With End-Stage Renal Disease, you are entitled to Medicare.  Ask your social worker about applying for Medicare.  There is like a 3 month waiting period before you are officially on be Medicare.

If you have private insurance, they will cover the cost.  If you don’t have insurance, there are programs that can help, check with your social worker.

Treatment Options


On Davita.comFrom dialyzing at home, getting treated at a center or receiving a kidney transplant, there is an option that’s right for you.”

The two main types of dialysis are:

  • Peritoneal Dialysis (PD). PD is usually performed at home.  I personally do not know much about PD, but you can learn more here
  • Hemodialysis (HD).  In HD,  you are hooked up to a machine that filters your blood to remove toxins and extra fluid

Hemodialysis options:

  • In-Center Hemodialysis: Done in a controlled environment, usually done three days a week for 4 hours a session. It is scheduled the same time every session and either Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  I found that most of the centers have only open spots for the Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I did learn a lot from the techs and nurses. If you are a social person, you can talk to other patients. I found that every time that I came home from the center, I would be dizzy and completely drained.
  • In-Center Nocturnal Hemodialysis: Very similar to in-center, but done while you sleep and the sessions are longer, 6 – 8 hours. Personally, I have never used this option.  But it is suppose to be better on your body, because it is being done at a slower rate.
  • Home Hemodialysis (HHD): Just as it states, doing your treatments at home, which takes some training and planning. I love the freedom of doing it at home!  My care partner is my husband and we usually work around our schedules.  The machine we use is made by NxStage and it is very user friendly.  There are other types of machines that are for home use, I think Fresnius also has a home machine.

Of course, there is kidney transplant option, if you are lucky and have someone willing to donate a kidney to you.  Or get on a transplant list, check with your social worker about applying for the kidney transplant list.