A Day In the Life of CKD Patient
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Erich Ditschman, a CKD patient, found out he had kidney disease in high school after going to the doctor for a case of gout. Blood tests soon revealed that his kidneys were damaged to 50 percent loss of function. A few years later, he had progressed to late stage 3. When you reach kidney failure, you have three options: dialysis, kidney transplant, or do nothing.

Hoping for a match

The test showed his wife was a match. Our operations were scheduled just a few months away. He would need to take anti-rejection medication to ensure his body didn’t reject her kidney. The pills would have significant side effects, but their lives could continue close to how they had been. His kidneys failed before the surgeries. A catheter was placed in his chest and he was wheeled into emergency hemodialysis.

First experience with dialysis

He spent 3 1/2 hours each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday hooked to the dialysis machine. As his blood was cleaned, my symptoms improved and he felt better. He finally received his wife's kidney but it failed immediately. He spent 4 weeks at the hospital hoping it would begin to work.

A biopsy of the kidney revealed focal segmental glomerusclerosis (FSGS). Dialysis is a gift of life. But it’s hard to appreciate a gift that steals significant time and quality of life. He was only allowed to drink 32 ounces a day. His diet was restricted. Some of my energy returned, but it quickly plateaued. He also had fistula surgery. He then switched to peritoneal dialysis and did it daily, as prescribed.

His new normal

He eventually received another kidney transplant, but this time it came from a deceased donor. After 5 weeks in the hospital, it failed­ — FSGS struck again. Back to in-center dialysis. He learned about home hemodialysis with a small, table-sized machine. Resilience once again stepped to the forefront and he learned to stick himself with the dialysis needles. Thirteen years later, dialysis feels like a gift of life.

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