My fistula is my constant reminder that transplant is treatment, not a cure.
It's still alive to the touch and buzzes with the flow of blood. The technical term is the "thrill." Even though a year and a half have passed since my last dialysis, my fistula never lets me forget. It started aching a while back and seemed to grow weak, but renewed flexing and exercising the forearm have brought it back and I think it's even stronger now than it was. I can feel its presence almost up to my elbow. In quiet moments, I find myself running my fingers over the vein, feeling life pulsing through my arm. A touch-point.
A rejection episode could begin tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. Rejections are usually treated by adjustments to medications made in a hospital under close observation. But if the graft kidney should fail, dialysis is always there as a life-saving alternative.
The darned thing can keep me awake at night if the fistula is in contact with a pillow or the mattress. The pulse is so strong that it resonates through the bedding and vibrates in my ear. Loud and demanding. Not unlike a jackhammer or a bad hangover.
But, I adjust. It's my lifeline.