Health knowledge made personal
Join this community!
› Share page:
Go
Search posts:

It's a boil! It's a wound! No! It's a fistula, man!

Posted Aug 24 2008 2:57pm
I have a fistula in my left upper arm. I have so many people staring at it that I get a little uncomfortable at times.



Now, fistulae generally are a little gross to see. Mine has the arterial vein dilated like crazy. That makes it even worse.



Generally, my shirt or T shirt sleeve covers it but when a small part of it is visible and if I stretch my arms above my hand, pretty much the whole fistula is visible. Reactions to the involuntary exhibition of this prized possession have ranged from a worried "What happened?" to an inquisitive "What's that on your arm?"



An answer like "Its an arterio venous fistula used for dialysis" usually ends the conversation with a mild "Ok" to hide ignorance of most of that.



When I go swimming, I spray a wash proof aerosol spray to prevent water from getting in. And then I cover it with a wrist band. I'm still undecided whether the wrist band attracts more attention then if I had left it bare.



People have asked me in the pool about it and I have given the same answer. I've been advised not to swim if it was a boil. A boil that big? Give me a break!



Why is a fistula needed in the first place? Here's an extract from wikipedia :



"In dialysis, blood is withdrawn from an artery or vein, purified, and returned to a vein. The volume of blood is too great for veins to handle, so a vein must be enlarged. An artery and vein, usually in the arm above or below the elbow, are sewn together, to create a fistula, and arterial pressure eventually enlarges the vein. The enlarged vein can accommodate a cannula or a large needle."



So, a fistula is what makes dialysis possible. I protect it like my life.



Here is a picture of my fistula in all its glory during a dialysis treatment:

You can see the two needles taped securely to my arm almost at right angles and blood in the tubes connected to the needles. I use the buttonhole method which means using the same sites for every treatment. Many people use the step ladder method which means using a different set of sites for each treatment.
Post a comment
Write a comment:

Related Searches