I’ve been going to this hemodialysis center for my twice a week sessions for almost 2 months. It’s a bustling facility with a 24-hour operation. I have plenty of ‘classmates’. They come to the center at almost the same time as I do. Because of this I have made some friends and acquaintances with other patients and their companions. I am sure each have their own stories to tell, their own sufferings and struggles, their own successes, their own shining moments. I thought I’d share them.
1. A man who used to work in highway construction in Saudi Arabia. He says diabetes did him. And all the desalinated water he drank during his 10 years in Saudi Arabia. Lucky for him the Saudi company is paying for his treatments.
2. A woman who suffers dizziness and muscle cramps every time she’s on dialysis. I think it is due to the fact that she strays so far away from her dry weight in between dialysis days and they have to set the machine to remove 3-4+ liters of fluid from her. That’s a lot, by the way. And she complains due to the pain.
3. A man between 25-30 comes for his late night sessions in pyjamas carrying 2 shopping bags. What’s in them? Pillows. Big ones. Snuggle up.
4. A woman, maybe 55, quite heavyset is wheeled in to reception. Her wheelchair is stuffed with 2-3 other bags. While waiting for her turn to be called, she reaches her hand into 1 of the bags then puts it in her mouth. She‘s munching something. CHICHARON! She’s eating CHICHARON! And each time she’s there, she’s munching something. Not only before her session starts but well into her sessions on the chair and after.
5. A BIR employee says he’s on flexitime on Wednesdays so he is off at 2:00pm for is session. Then later, during his dialyisis, his wife and 2 children arrive from work and university. And they have supper there together. It’s supposed to be not allowed, but they somehow get away with it. How sweet.
6. There’s this 19-year old I told you about in a past post(click here). Supposed to have graduated university this month. But she had to stop attending courses this semester. Was up for a transplant already, but her pre-transplant check up disqualified her for having some pneumonia.
7. A guy, 60 or so. Seems like he is always angry. Always complaining. Always in a bad mood. Good thing his wife is so patient. Attending to him after she gets off work. But he seems to be getting weaker and weaker each time I see him. The doctor recently adjusted his dry weight, lowering it. Has some swelling even when pre-dialysis weight is lower than his dry weight. That isn’t good.
8. A couple of blokes like me who come to dialysis after leaving their places of work. Still in their office attire. They arrive alone bringing their own food, watch TV, sleep, then leave after their session.
9. Physical therapists come to the center at 5:30pm. They distribute dumb-bells and weighted velcro straps to patients and invite them to a 30-minute workout while seated complete with cadence and club music. Is nice to see that most of them participate, albeit some, only haphazardly.
10. I cannot understand many of these persons on dialysis. They weigh in with 4-5 kilos more than their dry weight. Some of them believe that it is okay to drink or eat anything since, anyway, they will be dialysed. So the nurses take away too much fluid. Then they leave the center weak and sick instead of being more energised and feeling good. And the food the bring: hotdogs from 7-Eleven, Big Macs, Chicken Joy, Chow King lauriat meals, Binalot tapa and tocino... all high in sodium... with large Big Gulp Slurpee sodas!
11. Most of them are in the PhilHealth package, just like me. PhilHealth covers 45 dialysis sessions a year. With twice a week sessions, that’s only for 5.5 months. What happens after PhilHealth is exhausted? We have to churn out about 10K(at the least) a week to continue regular twice a week dialysis. What happens to those who are required 3 x a week? I’ve learned that others miss their sessions and are under dialysed. Others stop coming completely. My nephrologist tells me that the mortality rate of persons in dialysis is high. But mostly because people could not afford it and stop coming to the center.
This Holy Week, join me in saying a special prayer for my ‘classmates‘ in particular and others who are challenging health conditions. As much as any other, they deserve a happy and meaningful life despite the challenges.