You’ve got to be Kid-neying me!
my name is Tiffany I’ve been in nursing for over six years, over five years as a licensed practical nurse and a new registered nurse as of August 2018. I recently transitioned from geriatric/ long term/ skilled nursing to outpatient hemodialysis. But before becoming a hemodialysis nurse the only major healthcare-related months I recognized was February as National Heart Month and October as National Breast Cancer Month. Now that I work in nephrology and March being National Kidney Month, I finally see how important kidney health truly is.
The kidneys are bean-shaped organs located one on each side posterior abdominal area. The main functions of the kidneys are regulation of the body’s salt, potassium and acid content, removing of waste and drugs from the body, balancing the body’s fluids, releasing hormones that regulate blood pressure, producing an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones, and controlling the production of red blood cells.
Working in nephrology with the specialization in hemodialysis, the two most common causes of chronic kidney disease is diabetes and hypertension. These are also the most common precursors that have lead to my patient’s chronic kidney disease with a lack of discrimination affecting people of different ages, race, and economic status.
As a chronic hemodialysis nurse, I see patients with chronic kidney disease who may or may not be eligible to receive a kidney transplant. The patients are seen three times a week in a clinic setting where their treatments range from 3-4 hours, where we use an artificial kidney (the dialysis machine) to filter the patient’s blood and remove excess fluid because their kidney function range from minimal to completely nonexistent. A patient who is receiving dialysis can be done through either a fistula (the patient’s vessels), a graft (an artificial access), or a central venous catheter.
A day in the life of a hemodialysis unit is usually our patient care techs prime the dialyzers and bloodlines prep the dialysis machine in preparation for our patients, while the nurse’s prep the medications, labs and review doctors orders. When the patients arrive, their vital signs are taken along with their weight to assess the required fluid removal. The patient’s access is cannulated, and the nurse assessess treatment. After the treatment is initiated rounds and vital signs are done every 30 minutes until their treatment time is complete, they are decannulated, and their last set of vital signs are taken. As a registered nurse we are responsible for monitoring for intradialytic complication and education on diet and fluid intake.
The main advice I would give is, if you have diabetes and/or hypertension to manage both comorbidities by doing the recommended management provided by your healthcare provider and if you do not have either comorbidity focus on prevention of diabetes and hypertension.
My favorite part about being a hemodialysis nurse is sharing stories not only with my coworkers but learning and growing with my patients for those 3-5 hours they become my family.