Thursday, March 12, 2009


Today is World Kidney Day, a day I can relate to since my mum suffers from kidney failure. It is a day to raise awareness about the importance of our kidneys and the effects of kidney disease. My mum has to go for her dialysis three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and the procedure usually lasts four hours. For those who don't know, hemodialysis is a procedure where blood is taken out from a blood vessel (usually on the arm) via a needle and goes through a dialysis machine before it is returned into the body via another needle. I still feel squeamish every time I accompany my mum to the dialysis center and I often feel guilty for not being able to be there and watch the needles inserted into her arm (I'm sorry, mum but I know you don't want to see me faint). FYI, I can't stand the sight and smell of blood (that's the reason why I can't join the medical profession). My mum was diagnosed as having problems with her kidneys a few years ago but she did not have to go for her dialysis back then. She could still perform her daily chores without any problems and life went on as usual. Then, the condition of her kidneys got worse and the time came for her to start her dialysis. Still, she did not heed the advice from the doctors and she kept putting off her dialysis due to fear and I guess, lack of persuasion from her children (I definitely plead guilty). Her health turned from bad to worse and after more than a month of not being able to get up on her own and not eating properly (she threw up every time she ate), I had no choice but to take her to the hospital. She was fortunate that she had her fistula done a year earlier. When she had the fistula done, it was an indication that she had to start her dialysis. I was foolish to think that she could function as usual without her dialysis and so stupid not to realise the danger she was in. Before she was taken to the hospital, she had lost a considerable amount of weight, was very pale, unable to do much and from time to time, would shiver uncontrollably. It was a sign that her kidneys were unable to function like normal kidneys and waste products had stayed inside and poisoned her body. She had to stay in the hospital for more than two weeks and I decided not to leave her alone. I took a few days off from work to be with her but I had to return to work since I could not take any more leave after that. I would go to work as usual in the morning and return to the hospital later in the evening. I spent every single night sleeping either at the hospital corridor (on newspapers) or on a chair next to her bed. Since men were not allowed to stay the night in the women's ward, there had been more than a few occasions when I was asked to leave by the nurses or the security guards. The first time she went for her dialysis, the procedure only lasted one hour. She was too weak to go on with it but I could definitely see a little bit of improvement in her health. Her appetite came back and she no longer felt cold. Nowadays, more than a year later, she is back to doing her daily chores as usual (with my supervision, of course) and on most days, she has more energy than I do! Her skin condition and complexion have also improved (she looks so young and radiant now). But I have learned the hard way never to take her health for granted. I have to watch what and how much she eats and I have to make sure she has enough rest. She is usually a little bit tired after her dialysis and needs to lie down a while when she comes back home. I am truly grateful to those who have made all the difference in my mum's life (and mine too) and no words can express how I really feel. The doctors, the nurses, the guys at the dialysis center, my friends who have supported me, my colleagues and superiors, the scientists who came up with the principles of artificial kidney etc ,etc, etc. I can't thank all of you enough and I pray for blessings to be bestowed upon all of you. Again, thank you and may God bless all of you.