- Treatment Type
- Peritoneal Dialysis
- Marital Status
- Not at Home
- Work Status
- Poor Vision
Linda first learned that it was possible to do dialysis at home from a friend she met on online. "I belong to a Web chat group for the blind," said Linda. "A good friend from the group was the first one to tell me about home dialysis. At the time, I didn't know I would ever need dialysis myself. I'm glad I paid attention when my friend told me about her husband doing peritoneal dialysis (PD) at home!"
Linda has been blind from birth, and does not have a family history of kidney problems. To this day, she is not sure why her kidneys failed. She suspects that a reaction to anti-inflammatory drugs she took for foot pain may have caused the damage.
When it came time to start dialysis, Linda chose to train for PD. "I picked home treatment because I thought it would be more natural," said Linda, "and a lot more convenient. Just the transportation would have taken a lot of my time. I would have had to use a paratransit bus to get to and from a center three times a week."
Getting started with PD had special challenges for Linda. "The fact that I'm blind was unique for my center," noted Linda. "They were very supportive of my choice, but had never trained a blind person before."
As a result, Linda's training had some extra steps. She brought two helpers—her husband and a grown daughter—to her training sessions. "The training nurse at the unit showed them what to do," Linda explained. "I decided to trust my husband and daughter to learn the steps; then I could learn from them."
When Linda went home after a few days of training, her husband did all of her exchanges for her. In time, she learned how to do them herself. "In the beginning my husband was always with me, watching me to make sure I did things right." After just a few weeks, Linda was confident enough to handle all her exchanges on her own.
Switching to a cycler
Linda started doing PD by hand. She trained on a cycler after about 2 months. Using the cycler lets Linda dialyze at night, freeing her daytime hours for other things, like her part-time job as a Braille proofreader. "I work 2 days a week," said Linda, "and using the cycler for dialysis at night makes it a lot easier."
"I like to be independent," Linda relates, "and I always do as much as I can." She made Braille cards and taped them to the boxes of dialysate so she can find the right fluid for each exchange. She is also trying to get a talking scale so she can weigh herself.
After 5 months, Linda and her family have adjusted to her PD routine. The Fresenius cycler and exchange supplies are set up in her bedroom. Luckily, there is a bathroom in the master bedroom. "We had to move some furniture," said Linda, "but no other changes were needed."
A bout of peritonitis in her first month of PD has made Linda extra careful about sterile technique. In fact, she uses hospital wipes to clean her hands and washes them, as a precaution. And, she keeps the family dog out of the bedroom.
Linda is getting back into a routine. "I feel good enough to work a couple of days a week, and I go to the gym when I can."
Being blind has not stopped Linda from doing many things in life, including PD. She would like to see PD cyclers made easier for blind people to use—so she can be even more independent. "I really can't do it all on my own," notes Linda. "If I get up at night, I can't tell where I am in my cycle because I can't read the displays. I need to ask my husband to read them for me. I could do more for myself if the machine had different textures, or a voice message when it alarms," she suggests. "I think if the cycler was set up a little differently, more blind people could give PD a try."