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So, yeah, my mom is on dialysis now.


Bellesouth hasn’t been as lively as usual lately, and for very good reason: in the past week my mother has begun dialysis treatment. We’ve been waiting for this for quite some time, and I’ve been juggling behind-the-scenes work with a major change in my family’s life.

Not my mom’s nails, but this is what they looked like. From the Dermatology Online Journal.

Our journey toward dialysis began several months ago, when I noticed that my mother’s nails were growing strangely. They were extremely thick and growing into thin tubes. They were becoming increasingly painful and cumbersome through my mother, and my neighbor-slash-nail-gal couldn’t do much with mom’s nails, so I asked her to see her doctor immediately.

That’s when we found out that my mother could possibly be in renal kidney failure. As this article mentions, there is a connection between these nails and kidney disease. Kidney disease is a major risk for diabetics, so it’s very important if you are currently diabetic or at-risk for diabetes that you do all you can to manage it.

In addition to these weird-looking fingernails, Kidney failure also causes serious swelling. Your kidneys’ primary function is to remove toxins from the body, and when they can’t be removed, your body swells up. The buildup of toxins can also affect your mood.

So for the next several months we spent a lot of time talking, being scared, educating ourselves, visiting doctors, and being scared some more.

During the summer, my mother was supposed to begin at-home dialysis. But when she went in for surgery for a peritoneal catheter to begin the process. But my mother’s susceptibility to infection nixed that plan.

So last week, my mother had a subclavian catheter inserted into her chest to begin dialysis. This type of catheter is typically used for chemotherapy, and a fistula (usually in the arm) is used often for dialysis, but for some reason, they decided to put in this catheter. As long as my mother remains on dialysis, which could be the rest of her life, until she gets a kidney transplant, or her kidney function changes.

As if you can’t tell, it’s a very cumbersome device. It kind of pokes out of her chest. And it’s in there and it must be protected at all times. Mom won’t be able to take showers; only “birdbaths,” as her dialysis nurse referred to it this evening. I’ll have to help wash her hair in the kitchen sink. And, well, obviously certain clothes will be difficult for her to wear.

Since she began dialysis treatment in the hospital last week, Mom has drastically improved. The process of dialysis involves cleaning of the blood, and as a result, they’re able to get a lot of fluid off the body. My mother is now losing weight every day, which in this case, is very good.

The main thing is that mom will have to stay with this program. We’ll be working with nurses and nutritionists to make sure she stays on a proper renal diet.

So, just in case you’ve been wondering what I’ve been doing, I’ve been pretty busy. Hopefully this is the beginning of a much easier life for both of us.

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  • Lindsay
    November 21, 2012, 12:29 am

    Aww! I’m glad to hear that you were able to get her started on things and it seems to be going well. My dad had one of those when he was on dialysis, too. I think they did eventually put fistula in though. I hope your mom continues to do better with the help of dialysis. :)
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  • Kristin November 21, 2012, 12:39 pm

    Oh my E. Those nails would have freaked me out in a heart beat if I were her. I have never seen anything like that. Thanks for sharing. My mom has diabetes and often ignores it so now I know something to look for. I wish your mom good luck and patience in dealing with this new reality.

  • Sue Axelrod
    November 23, 2012, 8:40 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. My father in law had similar medical problems from diabetes and it’s just heartbreaking. Lots of love to you, your mom and family.

  • Marchel Peterson
    November 23, 2012, 9:00 pm

    I had no idea that weird fingernails were a sign of kidney failure. It is good that you checked it out. I wish you the best of luck with everything.

    • Bellesouth
      November 24, 2012, 6:15 am

      I had no idea either! But yes, I’m glad I checked it out too. That could be a life-saver. Thanks for your well wishes.

  • Mary Helen Ferris
    November 23, 2012, 10:18 pm

    How kind of you to think of others at a time like this. Very good advise and quite timely as the holiday approach we can become less and less mindful of our own bodies needs. Be certain to care for the care-giver. Sending you hugs and blessings on the wind. Special greetings to you and your Mother.

    • Bellesouth
      November 24, 2012, 6:14 am

      Thank you very much for your kind words, Mary Helen. Happy holidays.


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