Blog post

Confessions of a first-time dialysis patient — Week 2

Steve Winfree of Knoxville, Tennessee chronicles his first month on dialysis.
A picture of Steve Winfree as he goes through dialysis

"Wow" is just about the only word I can use to describe my second week of dialysis. The second week was one that was both smooth and painfully gut-wrenching all the same.

I realized once again that handling the mental aspect was going to be very hard here in the beginning. The silence that consumes me also allows me to have moments of innermost thought and reflection. We are all sick and fighting our battles the best that we can, but it is OK to have moments of sadness and concern.

Having those moments of concern are what keeps the flame burning in our desire to fight.

While in my second week, I was moved to another chair as there was an elderly lady in my usual spot. I could tell she was not doing well at all. She looked very ill and lay there under her blanket as motionless as the chair she was lying in. After some time, she began to cry out for help from God and was begging for relief.

This moved me and my own perspective of my situation to a place it had never been: acceptance. When you first begin dialysis, it can seem somewhat surreal. You are not really sure what to think because the notion of actually being in a dialysis center is somewhat foreign and hard to grasp. It is so important to accept what you are going through so that you can be the best patient you can be. Accepting your journey allows you to focus on each and every step with the diligence and attention that is necessary.

Continue asking your nurse questions. If you feel the slightest bit different during dialysis, make sure to notify the nurse. One of the biggest issues you can face during dialysis is low blood pressure from filtering too aggressively. If you begin to feel nauseated or light-headed, please tell the nurse immediately.

Always remember that you are a superhero, but you are not invincible.

I want to leave you with this: We will win some of the battles we face; we will feel we have lost some; but at the end of the day you have become the most inspiring version of you that you could have ever imagined.


Steve Winfree

Steve Winfree of Knoxville, Tennessee, is chronicling his first month on dialysis for Kidney Today. For more information on what to expect in the first month of dialysis, visit the American Kidney Fund’s FIRST30 resource center.