What to Expect During Dialysis

Before you start your treatment

When you come in for pediatric dialysis, you will:

  • Hang up the things you don't want at your chair (coat, backpack, etc.).
  • Get the sheets, blankets and pillow you will need to be comfortable during your treatment. You will cover your chair with a sheet, and then set up the pillow and blankets any way you like. If you need help, ask one of the nurses.
  • Choose whatever activities you would like to use while you're on the machine (homework, books, movies, art supplies).
  • Go to the bathroom — use the toilet if you need to, then wash your arm really well if you have a graft or fistula.
  • Stand on the scale to be weighed.
  • Have your temperature taken.

The nurse will ask how you're feeling and if there is anything the staff needs to know. It's very important that you tell the nurses if you aren't feeling well or if anything different or unusual has happened since your last treatment.

Now you're ready to start dialysis.

During your dialysis treatment

  • You may not eat or drink while you're in the dialysis unit because it could cause you to cramp. Be sure to have breakfast or lunch before your treatment starts. You may have ice chips if you get especially thirsty.
  • It's very important to tell your nurse how you're feeling during your treatment. If you start to feel poorly or if something hurts, tell your nurse right away.
  • Dialysis is a great time to get homework done! Make sure to bring your work with you from home. Sometimes, a volunteer tutor may be available to help you.
  • Headphones must be used when you are playing a video game or watching a movie or TV show. We will loan you headphones to use each time you come to the unit.
  • It's a good idea to have games or books to help pass the time while you're on dialysis. We have lots of things in the unit that you're welcome to use!
  • The machines beep a lot during treatments. The beeping is usually nothing to worry about and doesn't mean something is wrong. The nurses will come and take care of whatever needs to be adjusted. Your nurse may ask you to change position a little so you can get the best possible treatment.
  • The physicians will come around at least once each week while you are on the machine and check in to see how you're doing.

When your dialysis treatment is finished

  • If you have a graft or a fistula, the nurse will ask you to hold each site after the needles are removed. This means that you will hold cotton over one site for a few minutes and use some pressure so it does not bleed. Then the second needle will be removed in the same manner.
  • We will take your temperature again.
  • You will be weighed again.
  • You will take the sheets and blankets off your chair and put them and your pillowcase in the laundry basket.
  • You will put away whatever toys or materials you used during your treatment, then you're ready to go!


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