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Friday, April 11, 2014

Libre Clothing for Hemodialysis: A Review

Libre hemodialysis clothing
Libre dialysis clothing
I finally get to try Libre, a hemodialysis clothing in the United States after it arrive early this month. To recall, I wrote about Libre when I was not still a hemodialysis patient.

The design is that of a sweater or sweatshirt, perfect for the cold environment inside a hemodialysis facility. The clothing material is not too thick and not too thin. Enough to provide warmth yet still ok for BP measurements.

The best feature is the strategically-placed zipper which allows unimpeded vascular access for hemodialysis to go on smoothly. You can clearly see how the clothing works in the above pic.

Once the hemodialysis is over, you can wear the clothing outside with people having no clue that what you are wearing is a dialysis clothing.

Thank you Libre Clothing!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Updates of our Hemodialysis Support Group

Good to be back blogging here. Been busy with activities of our hemodialysis support group.

Last February we had a fundraiser then a lecture on Calcium and Phosphorus by nephrologist Dr. John Li.

Partcipants of the Calcium Phosphorus lecture

Dr. John Li lectures about Calcium and Phosphorus

Mini lecture on renal nutrition

Smiling Kidneys Club summer beach outing

Recently, our support group had a beach outing with nutrition lectures to celebrate World Kidney Day. Then we have an upcoming recollection next week and a planned mini Olympics this coming June in time for the celebration of the anniversary of our dialysis center as well as the Kidney Month. (If you wish to help us in our activities by being a sponsor or a partner, just sent me a message at the contact page.)

Though it is tiring to organize events for the support group, you feel happy seeing patients smile and appreciate the activities. It's difficult to explain but being busy with the support group has helped me also look forward to the future.

During a conversation with some kidney patients at PCSO while requesting for financial assistance, the patients appear to love the idea of being in a support group. I also heard some concerns regarding some baranggay officials not recognizing chronic kidney failure patients as Persons with Disability. This is sad. It is my dream that our support group will soon extend to other dialysis centers also to help address concerns like these.

Now with regards to my health, my phosphorus has gone up and serum calcium lowered slightly. Phosphorus levels are really hard to control. It requires discipline with the diet and compliance with taking phosphate binders like Renvela. I just wish the cost of these medicines will be eventually lowered or will be subsidized by the government also as in other countries because they are expensive. Perhaps with more patients banding together as a group, we can lobby for the lowering of the price of medicines, if not, secure the usual medicines at a lower price. That is another wish we could accomplish as a support group.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bacter and Me: A tribute to our beloved best friend

My dog Bacter and me
Valentines Day has just passed and it was me and my wife's first without our best friend, Bacter - an epitome of unconditional love and loyalty. Bacter passed away 2 days before Hearts' Day. He was with us for eleven years. This post is my way of memorializing him. Let me tell you our story.

Bacter came to us inside a shoebox (that was how small he was) given by my boss, a Microbiologist/Bacteriologist, thus the name Bacter. He was a small, bundle of joy, among the last, if not the last, of the puppies of Ginger (a Japanese Spitz) given away to friends and relatives of my boss. The last puppy to be handed out is usually what is considered the "least attractive" as new family members get to select their pick. We got to pick what was left so we had no choice. But perhaps that was meant to be. Fate brought us together and we don't regret ending up with him. Bacter definitely turned up actually to be a very good-looking dog upon growing up. He is believed to be a mix of Japanese Spitz and Golden retriever-Aspin (Asong Pinoy). He had plenty of hair/coat as he grew which became a challenge to house-cleaning when shedding time comes.

I was not allowed to take care of Bacter in my place so I requested my girlfriend then (who is now my wife) to have him in her home. He was so delicate, so small that we had to put up a sign on my girlfriend's door "Be careful. You might step on our small puppy".

We bought Bacter dog toys like a safe rope for biting, chew bones and balls. Bacter became fond of chewing things - slippers, part of the stairs, part of the sofa, clothes, etc. Practically he bit anything he could chew on. So yes, the toys were there for him to chew on and release energy.

Bacter, less than a year old with his favorite toys
As a small puppy, Bacter became buddies with my wife's resident pet, a cat named San chai (named after the Meteor Garden character). Together, it seems the cat taught Bacter to hunt mice. (Bacter as an adult dog indeed became proficient in hunting mice and rats. He has his way of paralyzing the mice or rat without spilling blood and without eating them.) Anyway, the two became very good friends that we often find them playing with each other. Bacter would protect San chai from attacks by other cats and he would even protect San chai's offsprings from similar attacks. San Chai was way older than Bacter so it was sad that San Chai had to leave this world first leaving Bacter without a feline buddy.

As Bacter grew, he would love to sit on top of the working table while somebody's using it. He loves something soft also to lie upon or sit into. Thus my wife's sofa became his favorite spot along with the long laundry hamper where he barely fits.

He learned commands like "sit", "roll over", "to the chair", "kiss" and many more. When he objects of a command, he makes a Scooby doo-like sound. When we do aerobics, he likes to be carried around while we dance. Visits to the vets are stressful for him. He loves to hear anyone of us sing especially me. I sang him Disney tunes which he seemed to like a lot as he seemed to be lulled into sleep with these songs. He also liked to take a peek on what's outside the window.

One time, a friend lost her balance and accidentally sat on Bacter's tail. Bacter bit her as a reflex response. wW would never forget Bacter's guilty face afterward as he hid under the dining table as if trying to convey to us that he did not mean to bite our friend. Well, our friend remained friends with Bacter after the incident.

There was an incident where he perhaps prevented a thief from entering my girlfriend's apartment while she was out since only a bag was stolen inside the house and there were signs that Bacter may have put out a fight. Seeing Bacter okay that time brought a sigh of relief to us.

In time, he learned where to pee and poo when not able to go outside the house. He only does his thing on top of a newspaper. Whenever one of us arrives, he made it a point to hug and "kiss" us. But alas, I have to leave for Manila for my postgraduate studies leaving Bacter for two years solely to the care of my girlfriend.

While in Manila, I could fondly recall making calls to my girlfriend then "talking" to Bacter via cellphone. Bacter kept my wife company, making her smile always in my absence.  During one of those years when I was still in Manila however, we had a scare. Bacter was seriously injured  with heavy bleeding from one of his toes as he sustained a deep cut. Good thing he survived with the help of my wife's care and our prayers. Couldn't believe he'll get to live for 6 years more.

I went back from Manila and married my girlfriend and I could not forget including Bacter in the video to be played at the start of the wedding reception. He was looking clueless in the video with a ribbon on his neck. He was so cute there.

The bond between us three became stronger as we all live under one woof, I mean roof. Bacter hated the sound of thunder or firecrackers. And despite my two year absence, it was me whom he sought whenever there's thunder or the sound of firecrackers exploding. Though I try to ignore him to discourage his fear, he would climb on top of my lap or lie on my chest. Sometimes he would insert himself in between me and my wife in bed when thunder strikes. We are reminded of him everytime there are thunderstorms until now.

Of course, we don't give him chocolates but he knew when we're eating one. A lot of our favorite food he would ask using his "begging face" look that would melt anyone's heart.

As Bacter aged, he began to play less of catch and fetch. He used to really love it. However he did began to love belly rubs more. He also loved a massage on his head and neck which brought out his trademark contented smile. He would have favorite spots in the house especially the sofa. He would love to climb on top of new blankets and linens. Must be his arthritis that he finds it comfortable to be lying on top of any form of cushion.

When the 7.2 Magnitude earthquake late in 2013 occurred, I fondly recalled him running outside the house ahead of me in panic at the first sign of tremors. And he would join us under a table during aftershocks making our space much smaller.

During typhoon Yolanda, despite hearing of the supertyphoon's possibility of passing Cebu City days ahead, we never thought of leaving our canine friend behind if we were to evacuate to another place. At the height of the storm, we were all embracing each other in fear. Luckily, Cebu City did not sustain as much damage as other Cebu towns.

I don't want to recall the details of Bacter's final moments with us except for the fact that he was able to eat his favorite big pork bone for his last meal, that we were lying beside him on his last hours telling him that we love him and that he seemed to be saying the same as he unusually made sounds minutes before he left us.

Maybe some may not or would not fully understand why this level of emotion and love for a dog. I would not even attempt to explain it here. All I know is that Bacter touched our lives and was a source of unconditional love, of strength, support and of positivity. He still continues to be that source as we remember him. He also definitely helped me cope with my condition. Me and my wife consider him as one of the best things that ever happened to us.
Was not feeling well during this time but Bacter was a source of strength
Do not worry about us, Bacter. Go ahead play with your new friends now in the Rainbow Bridge. Run free. Flash that wonderful smile of yours. You will not be far away anyway. For you are forever in our hearts.

Bacter: 2003-2014

Saturday, February 1, 2014

What's your hemodialysis age?

On January 29, 2013, I had my first hemodialysis with an IJ access. I have surpassed one year last January 29 and I'm one year old already. Yes one year old because I feel that hemodialysis gave me a second chance at life. Happy 1 year anniversary to me! Cheers! And belated Happy Chinese New Year too!

So many things have happened during that one year span. There were ups and there were downs. But mostly, it was ups for me.

Recently, I had a scare. I experienced hypotension. My systolic bp plunged to 80 from 110 during dialysis in less than an hour. I experienced cold sweat and almost passed out. Not a pleasant feeling I tell you. We thought my weight gain was 4 kg based on my previous dry weight. Apparently, my actual dry weight may be higher and therefore the 4 kg weight gain may not be accurate. My hemodialysis was stopped until I was able to recover. Good thing, my BP was back to normal within an hour. You'll never really know what will happen the next minute of your life. So we have to make every moment count.

That scare won't deter me though to savor a new year for me. I look forward to this new opportunity to make an impact to others despite my condition.

So how about you, what's your age in terms of your hemodialysis? How "old" are you? I would like to know what's your secret for longevity in hemodialysis? I believe positivity plays a role as well as support of family and friends. Do you agree?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Steps in getting PCSO financial assistance for hemodialysis

Last week, I was able to successfully to get the needed financial assistance from PCSO for my dialysis worth Php 10,000, good for 3 dialysis sessions. It took a lot of patience and some sacrifice to get it.

I went to the PCSO office in Cebu (in the Reclamation Area) at around 5 in the morning. Had my requirements checked by the guard since you are only allowed to list your name as a walk-in when our requirements are complete. For dialysis assistance, the requirements are:

  • Picture of the patient
  • HANDWRITTEN letter from the patient requesting assistance addressed to the PCSO Chairman (currently it's the HON. MARGARITA P. JUICO thru Engr. Federico Damole, OIC Dept. Manager for Visayas-Mindanao)
  • Medical abstract complete with physician's complete name, signature, PTR number and license number
  • Official Statement of Account from the dialysis center regarding the costs of the dialysis treatment with the Billing Clerk's complete name and signature
  • Referral Letter from the facility's social worker or Hospital Social Service, if any  (if without social worker, letter indicating facility has no social worker)
NOTE: Have 2 photocopies of each when you go to PCSO. That means you have 1 original and 2 photocopies including photocopies for the patient's picture. A patient can designate someone to do all of this for him or her and go to the PCSO it seems.

After having my name listed and finding out I am number 4, I was asked to come back at 9 am. When I came back, the line of people. It is a mix of people renewing their request for assistance and other first-timers. Numbers were being called. Mine was called before lunchtime. I was given a form to fill up indicating family income and expenses basically. Once finished, I went back inside and I was scheduled to come back after lunch for the interview. I was interviewed at around 3PM already. Then for claiming the guarantee letter for the facility from PCSO, I was asked to come back two days after.

pcso letter

When I got the letter, I was so happy. I found out I can renew my request every 2 months. The date to renew is in an index card the PCSO gives you signed by the interviewer. Each time, it appears that the assistance will be Php 10,000. In effect, 3 free dialysis every 2 moths for a total of 12 free dialysis from PCSO a year if you start applying for assistance in January. Each time you renew, you submit the same requirements. 

I handed the sealed letter from PCSO to the dialysis center and that's it! You can insert your PCSO-guaranteed dialysis sessions in between your Philhealth subsidized dialysis sessions. Thank you PCSO. Thank you to those who bought PCSO lotto tickets also. Hehe. 


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