I often get asked which type of dialysis is better - Hemodialysis or Peritoneal Dialysis? That question really has no standard answer. It's like asking someone which flavour of ice-cream is the tastiest? It depends on the individual. Some prefer Hemo while others prefer PD.
If you asked me which I prefer personally, I would unabashedly say PD. Why am I such a lover of PD?
I honestly hadn't heard about PD until after my failed transplant in 1998. When I was researching the internet, I actually stumbled across the term by chance. This says a lot about the way medicine is practised in India. "Kidneys are failing, get a fistula made" is the mantra here. When I read about PD for the first time, it almost seemed too good to be true. I decided to ask my doctor about it, half-expecting to be told that it was not available in India or that I wasn't suited to it. Imagine my excitement when he said that I could definitely go for it.
The next six years on PD, as I keep saying to many people I talk to, were the best during my life on dialysis.
There are many reasons I liked PD:
- Less diet and fluid restrictions: I was not asked to restrict anything. I did four exchanges a day compared to many PD patients who do only three exchanges these days. This was a welcome relief from the severe diet and fluid restrictions I was asked to observe while on HD.
- No needles: Who does not hate needles? The very thought of two thick needles in my arms is even today, a huge put off for me. The best part about PD was that there was no need for needles.
- No thrice weekly hospital visits: PD is almost always done at home. The whole effort of going to a hospital thrice a week for about five hours each time was physically and mentally draining, not only for me, but also for my family.
- Independence: I did my exchanges and exit site dressing myself. This was very different from HD when you showed up at the hospital and surrendered completely to the centre staff. In PD, I had complete control. This does put a lot of responsibility on you. Some people like this, others don't.
- Freedom to travel: On HD, I can travel only to places where there is a good centre. Also, five hours at a hospital, every alternate day, does not appeal to me on a holiday! With PD, I could travel easily. All I needed to do was to order the PD fluid bags to a place close enough to where I was travelling. The rest was a breeze.
I was told later that PD worked best when you had some kidney function remaining. I had zero kidney function during my entire PD tenure. It worked beautifully for me. I think the big difference was that I did four exchanges. That is probably why it worked so well for me.
If there was a way for me to go back to PD today, I would close my eyes and take it.