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Preparing for Dialysis

Preparing for Dialysis: What to Expect

Before starting dialysis, it is important to prepare yourself both physically and mentally. We can help you manage practical needs including transportation, insurance and getting help around your home if necessary.

Understanding Kidney Disease

We offer classes to help you understand everything you need to know about kidney disease and dialysis. You and a friend or family member are welcome to attend class before your first treatment. Find out more about kidney disease education classes.

Choosing the Best Dialysis Option for You

From in-center hemodialysis to dialysis you receive while sleeping at home (nocturnal dialysis), UVA offers a range of dialysis treatments. We take time to explain the options best suited to your medical needs, and to discuss the advantages and disadvantages.

Once you start dialysis, you may be able to change the type of dialysis you are receiving. For example, many patients start on in-center hemodialysis. As they become familiar with the equipment and routine, some transition to home dialysis.

Develop a Dialysis Access Plan

A dialysis access is a site on your body where we surgically create a way for you to receive dialysis:

  • If you are having hemodialysis: We connect smaller veins in your wrist to create a large vein.  This access makes it easier for blood to flow to and from the dialysis machine. It also protects you from infection and harmful blood clotting.
  • If you are having peritoneal dialysis: We create a small opening in your lower stomach area (abdomen) and attach a smooth flexible tube (catheter). The catheter allows you to pour dialysis solution directly into your abdomen.

You will need a few weeks to heal after surgery, so it is important to plan ahead. 

Getting the Support You Need

We want your dialysis to be as successful as possible, which is why we help solve problems that could get in the way of your treatment:

  • Transportation: If you need help getting to and from one of our units, our social workers will let you know if transportation services are available in your area.
  • Health insurance: Dialysis is expensive. Fortunately, health insurance can cover most of your costs. We help you understand your current coverage and if you are eligible for additional benefits through Medicare or the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services.
  • Adapting your work or school schedule: Many people on dialysis are able to keep working or attending school. We help you set realistic expectations as you adjust to the physical demands and routine of dialysis.

Talking about how you feel and learning how to cope can help you manage some of the emotions you may be experiencing. Enlist your family, friends and others to help you manage your care.

  • Family and friends: The people you feel closest to can help you, even if they do not know anything about kidney disease. Let them know what they can do to make your day a little easier.
  • Peer mentors: Peer mentors are fellow dialysis patients. We pair you up with a peer mentor early on so you have a friend who has been in your shoes. Peer mentors offer advice and encouragement as you adjust to life on dialysis.
  • Social workers: Our social workers offer an understanding ear and helpful recommendations for anything that is troubling you.
  • Spiritual support: Our spiritual support (chaplaincy) program provides spiritual care and understanding to people of all faiths.
  • Community resources: Dialysis may leave you with little energy to take care of other responsibilities. If you are too tired to keep up with daily activities outside of dialysis, our social workers connect you with helpful community resources.
Make an Appointment

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