To recap, I entered the hospital the morning of November 6, 2006 to begin dialysis. It was a crisp cool day with blue skies and I walked in by myself instead of being wheeled into the emergency room in a wheel chair. The doctors like to start dialysis treatments in a hospital so that everything can be closely monitored. I checked in and waited in my room for things to get going. I had a book and did tai-chi to relax. My arm was shaved and after a bit I was wheeled down to the dialysis lab.
Two of the biggest needles I have ever seen were inserted into the baby fistula in my arm and for the next two hours, my blood was circulated and recirculated through the dialysis machine where excess fluid was removed along with urea, creatinine, other waste products which diffuse into the dialysis solution.
I had to lie very still and keep my left arm absolutely stationary. The needles tend to float and fluctuate in the currents of the blood flow. When the open end touches the wall of the vein, the flow slows and the machine shuts down. Flow rate is everything. Blood pressure is monitored very closely. The cuff stays on throughout treatment and the dialysis machine checks pressure at regular intervals. The whole process went smoothly and was closely monitored by my nephrologist and the nurses. The needles were removed, my arm was bandaged and I was wheeled back to my room.
After a short nap I awoke and felt fine. Outside it was still a beautiful fall day. After months and years dreading this day, everything seemed calm and relaxed in a very surreal way.