Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A scare

For a long time I had not done my cannulation (putting in the dialysis needles into my arm) and started dialysis. The dialysis tech who comes to help was doing everything. I had learned the whole process and was doing a lot of it myself for a while. But then I would be tired after work and would not get down to doing anything at all and would let the tech do the whole procedure.

Yesterday was Monday and I needed good dialysis since I had not dialysed the previous night, it being a Sunday. I called my tech around 10:15 in the night to check when he would be coming. He said he would take about half hour more.

A thought occurred to me. How about doing everything myself?

So, I started off. Prepared the bicarbonate solution. Primed the tubes. Priming is a process by which the dialyser (artificial kidney) and the tubes that connect the needles that pull out the blood from my arm and push it back after passing it through the dialyser are cleaned with sterile water.

Once this was done, I cannulated myself and connected the tubes to the needles. But by mistake I connected the venous line to the artery instead of the arterial line. Blood is supposed to come out of the artery and go into the tube. But no blood was flowing.

I then realized my mistake and disconnected the venous line and connected the arterial line. But this caused a lot of air to go into the system. Air in the system is a strict no-no. I however had not realized this.

As the blood was drawn from my artery and passed through the dialyser and was about to be returned to my vein, the machine sounded an alarm. I then noticed the air in the tubes. I started panicking. I tried to tap on the tubes to get the air into the venous chamber which acts like a cushion for extra air. But to no avail.

Just then, to my great relief, Jairam, my dialysis tech arrived. I explained the problem to him. He asked me not to worry and did a few things by which the problem was resolved.

It was a little scary but I am undeterred. I plan to do it again tonight. Let's hope things turn out ok.

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