Will I be able to lead a normal life on PD?
People on PD usually do their own dialysis, usually in their own homes. This gives many people on PD a greater sense of responsibility and independence than is possible for the majority of people on haemodialysis (who receive their dialysis from nurses or dialysis technicians in a hospital). Although PD can be fairly flexible, because it needs to be done every day, people can sometimes feel worn out. Families can also find it difficult to cope with the fact that their relative needs to do PD each day, and that his/her life has changed. The responsibility for this type of dialysis is not always easy to cope with, and sometimes people on PD and their family feel isolated at home.
Many on PD are fit enough to work. Some people do a PD exchange at work during their lunch break, if there is a clean room available. Since APD exchanges are done during the night, this form of dialysis can be particularly suitable for people who work or who are in full-time education. Some heavy lifting jobs are unsuitable for people on PD, but long distance driving is okay.
Sometimes being on PD may bring problems in areas such as work and housing. Some people who are unable to work are entitled to benefits such as ‘Disability Living Allowance’, exemption from prescription charges, or reduced Council Tax. Many Renal Units have a Social Worker who can offer advice and help negotiate on your behalf with authorities as well as offer support with family issues.
People on PD can do their dialysis in any clean location in any part of the world. Before making travel arrangements, it is best to check with your Unit, who can advise on how much notice is needed to have PD supplies delivered to your holiday destination, and the location of the nearest Hospital with renal facilities. Most Units can allow each patient to have up to three weeks supply of fluid delivered anywhere in the world on one occasion each year. The contract each hospital has with the PD Company that supplies their fluid may vary, so it is necessary to check with your Unit before you book your holiday.
Most types of sport and exercise are possible for people on PD. Even contact sports are possible (though not always recommended). People on PD who want to play sports such as rugby, judo and karate are advised to wear a protective belt around their abdomen.
Yes. Before a swim (or bath), it is recommended that people cover their PD catheter with a special plastic dressing or pouch, which they can get either from the hospital or their family doctor. People on PD are advised to swim in a chlorinated swimming pool, and avoid swimming in the sea, as seawater is often dirty. After a swim (or bath), patients should clean the exit site of their catheter and, whenever possible, should also do a fluid exchange. The way people are taught to care for their exit site varies a little for each PD Unit.
Sexual problems such as reduced sex drive, impotence, and problems with fertility are common among people with kidney failure. The physical and psychological stresses of PD may affect your sex drive. Hormones that control sexual function can be disturbed in renal failure. These hormones can be measured and treatment given if necessary. Tiredness, anxiety, and certain medications can also affect a persons sex drive. Some people may find it uncomfortable to have sex with the dialysis fluid in, but they can drain it out first and use a new bag afterwards. People on APD can have sex either off or on the machine (the connecting lead is very long). Females on PD are advised to use contraception and discuss pregnancy with their doctor. Pregnancy on PD is usually unsuccessful, and women are often advised to wait until they have had a kidney transplant before trying for a baby.
The National Kidney Federation cannot accept responsibility for information provided. The above is for guidance only. Patients are advised to seek further information from their own doctor.