Her dialysis treatment options
Ms Irene Tam has been suffering from kidney disease since she was a teenager. In early 2021, she was told by her doctor that her condition had worsened and her kidneys were failing, and that she required dialysis to sustain her life.
Irene had two options – peritoneal dialysis (PD), a home-based treatment, and haemodialysis (HD), in which she would have to visit a dialysis centre thrice a week and spend four hours each time hooked up to a dialysis machine. For PD, there are two types. One is Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD), where a tube (catheter) is inserted in the abdomen. A special sterile solution enters the abdomen through the catheter and circulates there, drawing out impurities. The fluid is drained out by a machine into a bag while the patient sleeps at night, and this procedure is carried out daily. The other is Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis, which is a machine-free, gravity-based exchange – typically four to five exchanges per day.
No problem adjusting to PD
The 5I-year-old, who works as a customer service professional, chose the former as it would not affect her work and earning capacity. It also allows her to have more time to support her 86-year-old mother, who is bedridden.
To Irene, the APD machine is synonymous with a new loyal “boyfriend” of hers that accompanies her every night while she undergoes nine hours of dialysis, helping to remove toxins, extra salt and fluids from her body.
“At the beginning, I was taught how to use the PD machine,” says Irene. “It’s quite straightforward and not complicated. I also needed to make some adjustments like how to take care of myself to minimise infection and what I should and should not eat. After that, no problem.”
To support PD patients like Irene, NKF provides subsidies and has a PD Community Support Programme that trains patients so that they can carry out the treatment at home on their own, and are clear about managing risks of infection, proper diet and medication.
The NKF PD nurse makes regular home visits to Irene’s home to ensure that she is doing well. In this way, knowledge gaps are filled so that she is empowered to live a quality life.
Irene also joined NKF’s PD Support Group, which helps equip patients with better health literacy, alleviate psychosocial issues and enable bonding among patients. “In the group, we share our experiences, encourage and support one another. We have all gone through similar worries and challenges so we understand each other. It’s therapeutic.”
Happy with her flexible lifestyle
Irene is now doing well in her treatment and rehabilitation and is able to do sporting activities that she loves like playing badminton, cycling, sailing, hiking and bowling. “With PD giving me more flexibility, I’m able to work full-time, take care of my bedridden mother, enjoy outdoor activities and spend time with my friends. I still can have a quality and fulfilling life.”