Saturday, November 20, 2010

How many times do you have to get it done?

I was asked this question in the pool today. It was with regard to dialysis. My fistula of course, is a dead giveaway. It inevitably leads to stares and then when the curiosity becomes uncontrollable, the question comes.

"If you don't mind me asking, what is that on your left upper arm?"

"You know what that is? That is none of your fucking business!" Of course I say that only in my mind. I mean, I have limited time in the pool. I would honestly rather enjoy the blue water with the winter sun shimmering on the surface rather than get into the details about dialysis. But then, I have not become rebellious enough to say that.

"That is a fistula and it is used for dialysis. I am Kamal and I am on dialysis. Hello!"

After the usual comments about how someone so young (I am only 25, remember?) could be on dialysis, the question about number of times usually comes, especially if they know a friend of a relative of a friend who is on dialysis.

Then comes the classical dilemma for me. How do I answer that question? How many times do I have to get it done? I get it done daily, for seven to eight hours. If I tell them that without any explanation however, they will surely need dialysis themselves soon because of the shock. And the question is how much dialysis I need, not how much I am getting!

Looking at it from a lay person's perspective, I have to get it done about once in a week actually. I can survive for a few months with that frequency. But then, I obviously don't want to get down to why that is really, really bad for the heart, the blood counts, the nerves and all. So, that brings me to thrice a week. Barely enough dialysis. But I have to get it done with that frequency to have some hope to last a few years.

However, in the end, my basic instinct to spread the word about more frequent dialysis takes over and I get into the details of how most people do it twice or thrice a week but I do it daily because it enables me to lead a life as close to normal as possible. Soon, I can sense it becoming information overload because I also go on to explain how daily dialysis brought my hemoglobin up, took care of my left ventricular dysfunction, totally cured my restless legs syndrome and damn it, enables me to swim every day and work full time!

Most people decide to call it a day and get out of the pool and I go back to my swimming.





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