I started dialysis when I was 24 years old. I resolved then to take good care of myself, because I had a one-year-old child to raise and a long life ahead of me if I could manage my health. I’ve kept that resolution for 20 years on dialysis, and I’ve discovered how to control my fluid intake to maintain a good quality of life.
I live alone now. I cook, clean my own apartment, and do my own laundry. I like to walk and swim, and I actually lift weights for my legs. If I have too much fluid in my system, all these activities are difficult. I need to have energy to take good care of myself, and that energy partly comes from good fluid control. Staying as close as possible to my dry weight goal is critical to maintaining my health. If I were to become overloaded with fluids, it could lead to cramping, heart failure and breathing problems and possibly congestive heart failure or pneumonia (due to water in the lungs).
By sharing my story, I hope to inspire others to persevere in controlling their fluids. I know this can be difficult, but with consistent effort I’ve discovered what works for me. I started with a positive attitude, and I’ve been able to manage my fluids and keep my fluid weight gain to a minimum.
My personal strategies for fluid control:
• I try to eat a low sodium diet, probably 1000-1300 mg of sodium per-day.
• I keep spicy foods to a minimum.
• I rarely buy anything yummy to drink at the grocery store.
• I keep ice cold water in the refrigerator at all times.
• I drink very small amounts of water with medications.
• I usually try not to drink anything with meals or very little, ½ cup or less.
• When going to a restaurant I normally drink a small ice water and occasionally treat myself to a Sprite or ice tea mixed with lemonade.
• Sometimes I chew gum.
• When I’m very thirsty I suck on a large lemon wedge and then take a swallow of ice water.
• Sometimes I squeeze fresh lemon juice on peeled and cut apple slices.
• I order food in restaurants, if possible, without salt.
• I dialyze four times a week.
Fluid control ideas that others have shared with me:
• Have a bottle of water that holds the amount of your daily allowance.
• Hard candy and sugarless gum.
• Biotin spray or a water pick can lessen thirst.
• Popsicles or frozen grapes.
• Tiny water bottles or small cups.
• Remember everything counts! Ice, juice, fruits, soups, etc.
• Try taking medications with apple sauce.
• Fill a small spray bottle with lemon- or mint-flavored water and spritz your mouth to quench thirst.
• Salt or sodium makes you thirsty. Know your restrictions, learn to read labels.
• If diabetic, keep sugars under control. That will help to lessen thirst.
I hope I have helped you realize that it’s possible to manage your fluids while being on hemodialysis. I know it can be difficult, especially if you’re a diabetic. But, you can do it! And once you manage fluids, your well-being and quality of life will improve: you’ll be able to do things you enjoy doing and live your life to its fullest. Please remember to always consult your dialysis healthcare team before making any changes to your diet, fluid intake, or treatment plan.
About the Author
Susie Gonzalez had kidney failure in 1981. She has been on peritoneal, nocturnal and in center hemodialysis. She has had two kidney transplants and is awaiting her third. She is a Board member of Renal Support Network. She taught school for several years and enjoys volunteering.
Web ID 1039