For those on dialysis, an AV Fistula is a lifeline. We must protect it at all times. When a fistula is created, we are given guidelines like the following to protect and maintain them:
- Don't allow Blood Pressure to be measured on that hand
- Don't allow any injections to be administered on that hand
- Don't carry heavy weights with that hand
- Don't sleep on that side
I am quite scared of a fistula rupture. Most people on dialysis have some aneurysms (bloated or bulging veins) on the fistula hand. These are the things which healthy people find scary, weird or ghastly depending on how well they know you! :-)
Many experts have warned me of a rupture. I cannot change my fistula because the number of possible access sites left in my body are low. With nineteen years on dialysis behind me and hoping to continue for a long, long time (unless of course I get a transplant), I need to preserve my fistula for long.
I read this and this article on the blog Big D and me which I found very useful to handle fistula ruptures. The key point is this:
"Press down with your finger and Lift your arm above your head!"
All dialysis patients with an AV Fistula need to memorize this like a mantra and repeat it every day so that we never forget and are ready if and when this happens.