Monday, May 23, 2011

Unexplained problems of dialysis patients

I often have problems that bother me for a few days and ask my doctor about on my next visit. Sometimes he knows what to do. Sometimes he just ignores it or gives me some vague answer and asks me not to do anything about it. I get irritated.

At NephroPlus, I meet all patients that come for dialysis whenever I am at a center and chat with them about how they're doing. I tell them how I am doing. We share our problems and solutions. Often they talk about some problem that I have never had. I have no clue on what they could try. I tell them as much. I tell them to talk to their doctor. They most likely have already done that and have not received any advice.

Well, that is the nature of the human body. Medicine has so much yet to be discovered. What has been unravelled is but a tiny part of this very complex system. Just think about the way the parathyroid glands control the level of Calcium in the body (see this link) and you will begin to appreciate this almost magical system called the human body. At lower levels, when I read about the way the complement system works (especially interesting to me because of my primary disease) and the mind-boggling number of chemicals involved released and absorbed by various tissues, I see why medicine has not been able to solve so many problems related to disease. Still, the progress made is stupendous by any standards.

Given such a complex system, it is impossible, at least at this stage, for doctors to be able to figure out every small problem patients have. Patients must understand this. At the same time, it is important not to ignore certain things. Things that could be signs of a serious condition. So, we, as patients, must watch out for every symptom that is out of the ordinary.

We must talk about every problem with our doctors. If they don't know about it or ignore it, we must not get irritated. We must understand the limitations of medical science. Especially if the symptom is something transient, lasts only a few days. On the other hand, if there is something that is persistent, something that is recurrent or something that is paining or bothering you, then do not ignore it. Talk to your doctor. If he is not able to help, talk to another doctor. Or look up the symptom on the internet. There are plenty of support groups online. Ask there. The I Hate Dialysis suport group has hundreds of members and will very likely give you some answers.

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