I get my dialysis at a Red Cross facility. When I first began treatment, I couldn´t assimilate the fact that a couple of weeks before I had been a normal, apparently healthy fifty two year old male and now I was suddenly immersed in a world of life support machines, syringes, catheres, blood flowing out and being put back inside frail bodies through tubes. It was, it is, a sort of subterranean world where tired old people and some younger ones, like myself, slide in from an outside reality and dive into a sort of bubble outside of time theree times a week for four or five hours each time. This dialysis thing is a tough experience, and it teaches one to seriously think about life and death. It mainly teaches one to see how thin the line is separating one from the other. Sometimes, when I am peacefully half asleep on the metal bed, with the blood suddenly going out of me and back into me again, I have a feeling I really don´t know which side of the divide I am on. Life and death, one learns when on dialysis, are just parts of a strange circle of existence, and there is a marked suspicion, after a while, that one has lived before, and being on dialysis must be the karmic result of things done in other lives. This thing, this alien procedure, cleanses you from being human, and brings you closer to the world of spirits, form which many beings look at you expectantly. To a degree, you lose, you must lose, your fear of dying, And you must love life all the more, in order to survive.
Every week you are told by other patients ( I would like to say inmates, as dialysis really feels at times like a jail sentence, like you are in deathrow)that someone, maybe someone you have talked with, exchanged jokes with just a couple of days ago, has died. It puts things in perspective: it is very possible that you yourself will die one of these days. I mean, people can live on the machine for many years . But it is also a fact that they may die a lot quicker than they would if they were healthy.
When I come out of dialysis I feel more or less awful. I try to forget what I have just gone through and immerse myself in the here and now. When you are not having treatment, you must forget that you are on dialysis, because otherwise you may fall into chronic depression and act as a patient even when you are feeling allright, thus taking the pleasure out of leaving quite completely.
I still go out on weekends and hang out at the bars, drink some wine here and there, and look at women with some kind of longing.
Things are still quite possible.
But when it´s warm outside, I cannot wear a tshirt, lest I expose the horrific growths the constant needles have sculpted on my forearm, and thus revolt and turn away anyone who might have considered loving me a little...