Today Vernon got to go somewhere new, clear across town, just for a couple of hours. It turns out his nephrologist thinks he might be ready for the next part of his dialysis journey and made an appointment with a vascular surgeon for a consultation. Why am I highlighting all of these terms? Because if they are new to me, they might be new to someone else.
Anytime Vernon goes anywhere, he gets strapped to a gurney and driven to his appointments. Besides the occasional hospital visit, he gets transported like this three times a week for Dialysis. In this outing, the ambulance drivers stayed with him till the end of the appointment, and I met him out there.
Basically, with Hemodialysis, a person needs an access to their bloodstream, which allows the patient’s blood to travel in and out of the dialysis machine so that the toxins, etc can be removed from the body. The catheter port that Vernon has in his chest at the moment was meant to be temporary (it is actually his second catheter after the first got infected in September) and his doctor thinks its time for Vernon to get a new, safer and more durable port, such as a fistula. I have paid a bit of attention to this term in the past as fistulas are necessary for those on the path to self-dialysis and eventually, if all goes well, kidney transplants.
Today’s Surgeon, Dr. Duong, asked me a lot of questions about Vernon’s history, but it was clear to him almost immediately that Vernon was far to0 agitated (and this was on a good day) to have a fistula in his arm, as it would be so easily grabbed at during the three-hour dialysis sessions. At least the port in his chest is out of the way. In the end, he suggested a compromise, an AV graft, which sounds a lot like what he already has, that would be put into his upper arm and used when the chest-catheter no longer works. It would be more of a back-up port, to be used when needed, hopefully more and more often as Vernon heals.
If this post makes no sense to you, dear reader, you are not alone. I’m barely making sense of it myself. I hope as the doctors get their heads together and decide what is the next best decision, it will all be clearer. In the meantime, I will start reading up on his suggestion.
It would be wonderful to think that Vernon could get a kidney transplant one day, or even better, that his kidneys would suddenly be restored, but those things seem so far away in this stage of his story, they barely cross my mind anymore.
We shall see. It’s all moving forward, at least.
As Dr. Livingstone famously said: “I’ll go anywhere, as long as its forward.”