Some patients may feel nervous about deciding to switch to nocturnal haemodialysis, but for me it was a clear choice. I had been going to a centre to dialyse for 16 years, which took up a lot of my time – six hours during the day, three times a week, so in total 18 of my waking hours every week. It was the most inconvenient part of my life, comprising a lot of time, effort and travel expense. This began to matter more once I had a family, as I wanted to be able to spend every spare moment with my wife and child.
I have been on dialysis since I was a 17 due to my kidney syndrome, focal segmental glumerelosclerosis (FSGS). I’d never haemodialysed at home before, but I knew there were huge benefits in doing so more frequently. I thought home haemodialysis was unavailable to me until I switched consultants and (my new consultant) immediately suggested nocturnal dialysis. I was the perfect candidate due to the fact I’m young, have a family, and work long shifts.
Switching was surprisingly simple. I’d been needling myself in-centre for a while beforehand, so I had no fear to get over. It only took me and my wife/care partner a couple of weeks training with nurses and I was ready to go home (alongside a couple of supervised sessions). I think my wife was more nervous than I was. She worried we would need expensive adjustments to our home and that she wouldn’t get any sleep. But the machine isn’t noisy, and we simply had to run a water pipe to our bedroom because it isn’t next to the bathroom.
Nocturnal dialysis allows you to dialyse every day, for as long as you sleep. It’s a gentler, longer process than dialysing only a few times a week in-centre and puts far less stress on my heart1. Since switching to home haemodialysis, I have always dialysed overnight and have noticed huge benefits to my health, life and wellbeing.
When I first started, it did unsettle my sleep for a short time but now I don’t notice it. For me personally, the benefits definitely outweigh that brief period of restlessness a million times over. I have so much more energy than before, which is very much needed with two children, and can take on my fair share of parenting duties.
As a chef, I work long hours and often have split shifts. When dialysing in-centre, I used to struggle driving back and forth, but I can now cycle the 10 miles to work. I can also eat a wider variety of foods and have cut the amount of medicine I need to take. I am so much happier.
I haven’t looked back since switching to nocturnal dialysis, and it’s been five years. I can now fill my days with the life I want to lead. No more sitting around waiting for the day to begin.