Saturday, August 27, 2011

My AV Fistula

The fistula that took so long to create will be my lifeline.  It was formed by joining a vein with an artery to form a "super vein".  I have some lovely scars on my arms, which will be the places where the nurse/technician/person will insert two needles.  Although I hate the way it looks, it's not horrible.  I had looked at some internet pics prior to my surgeries, and I got myself all freaked out.  :)  There is one fun thing about it.  It buzzes to the touch!  It's fun to let people feel it and see them respond to it.  My boyfriend said that sometimes at night my arm will end up on his head and he wakes up thinking "killer bees".  :)

It is difficult to sleep.  When it's not on my boyfriend's head, I find myself waking up because I'm lying on my fistula arm.  Sometimes it will hurt.  Sometimes it "falls asleep".  I can't sleep on that side, and it interferes with snuggling.  I am also a bit "well-endowed", and the weight of my bosom is too much for it.  It wakes me up a few times per night.  There's already a strange mix of insomnia and over-sleeping that accompanies my kidney disease.  Add in the fistula, and my sleep is erratic at best.

I guess I should note that the fistula is in my left (non-dominant) arm.  I have to be protective of it.  The only needles that can go in it will be the dialysis needles.  I can't have any blood drawn from it and can't have my blood pressure taken on that arm.  I have to watch what/how much I pick up.  It gets tired easily.  Even just walking around shopping makes it ache.

Overall, though, I'm glad to have it.  Most people think of dialysis access as the port that a lot of people have around their collarbone area.  Those are only used in case of emergency, or if a fistula won't work.  There's a lot more risk of infection, failure, etc., with those type ports.  I don't have any foreign bodies in my fistula.  There's no plastic thing.  It's just my vein/artery combo.  :)  It's a lot safer, and it's supposed to last longer.

If you're in the situation in which you are about to get a fistula, I hope this helps.  I couldn't find anyone really talking about it on-line from a patient's perspective.  It can be difficult getting it to work, mature, etc.  As I mentioned in my first post, it has taken about nine months to get mine up and running.  I've yet to see how it actually works and how it will feel once I start dialysis.  I will definitely update with that information then.  Until then, I will take care of it the best I can, try to get used to sleeping with it, and will continue to enjoy letting people touch it.  :)

More later . . .

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