We used to call our dialysis clinic “the country club” because we felt so well taken care of. But, now things are very different.

At my old clinic the staff gave us blankets on cold days, and on warm days they made sure we had ice to chew on because the clinic would get pretty warm and we were there for hours.
That was when I first started dialysis in 2005.

Thirteen years later, things are very different. After spending thousands of hours sitting in a chair watching my blood get drawn into a machine and cleaned, I think I’ve seen it all. Dialysis techs and nurses scrambling to cover too many patients; bugs and roaches crawling around spaces where we get intimate care; and, most terrifyingly, patients fainting right in front of me.

Not only are we not getting the same care as when I first started dialysis, but conditions have clearly gotten worse. I’ve gotten so weary of seeing flies around me while I’m in the chair that my wife makes a concoction out of vinegar and soap that I take to my clinic to repel them. I keep the concoction in a cup next to my chair, and by the time I leave the clinic it’s full of bugs that were trapped inside.

I bring a set of personal supplies from home to the clinic when I get dialysis to help me feel comfortable. I’ve taken to leaving those supplies sealed in a bag in my car, because I don’t want to contaminate my home with the dirt and flies I’ve seen in the clinic.

Now I’m fighting to get things back to a place where patients like me feel safe. I spend upwards of 12 hours a week in dialysis — getting care I rely on to stay alive — in a place with backed up plumbing and flies. That is unacceptable. I know things can be better because I’ve experienced it myself back when I got care in the “country club” clinic.

Dialysis is lifesaving care, and I don’t take it for granted. But I need dialysis corporations to care for us, the patients. I don’t like to see injustice. I’ve always advocated for my family members when they’ve gone through tough things, and now I’m doing it for my fellow dialysis patients. Just because we’re sick and often older doesn’t mean that we don’t deserve safe care and respect.

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