The bike trip I am taking from Wheeling, WV to Daytona Beach, FL in my imagination and on a stationary bike is on hiatus, so ordered by the charge nurse at dialysis.

The first months on dialysis I was getting dialysized through two tubes flapping around in my jugular vein. You wouldn’t think you would get used to tubes sticking out of your neck but you do. I even became almost fond of it because it meant I didn’t need to have big needles stuck into my arm. Big needles hurt.

However, they prefer not to use the jugular catheter because of the risk of infection plus you get a better cleaning of your blood because the larger bore of the needles gives more capacity. So early on I had a surgical procedure where they splice together a vein and an artery which creates what they call a fistula. This becomes a super vein that can tolerate repeated sticking by larger needles. Natural veins can’t take it.

Then they let it “ripen” and that is the actual medical term. They monitored it and at about 10 tens tried a single needle stick. They put in the tube that takes blood out and to the machine first and did the return flow through the catheter, saying that once you start to use it it gets stronger and more supple but can’t take both needles immediately.

Even though it seemed ripe enough during the first attempt the fistula collapsed. It did seem strong because if you lightly touch it you can feel it “buzzing”. If while sleeping or trying to sleep I bend my arm up by my ear I can literally hear the blood surging through it.

So they waited two weeks and tried again, this time it worked. They did that for two weeks, blood to the machine from the fistula, back to through the catheter. After two weeks they tried both needles as supposedly it was now much stronger.

Now these aren’t junkie needles, 26 gauge, they are 17 gauge. The bad news is once they use them for 3 times or so, they will change them to 16 gauge, then another 3 times and 15 gauge and I can’t remember if they go eventually to 14 gauge. They all claim I will feel better because my blood will be cleaner but maybe they are just shining me on we’ll see.

The other side of it is once they do 6 consecutive successful treatment, and I get three a week, they will remove the catheter from my jugular vein. That will be nice because you can’t get the dressing wet which means you can’t  just step into the shower, there is this whole dance you have to do.

I will also be able to ply contact sports again. Hah! Like that is likely to happen. I played soccer in an organized competitive league until 2004 at age 54, being the oldest player in the league, with 20 somethings and teenagers being about half the players. I could still play from the perspective of agility and flexibility but I have very little stamina.

I  coached rec league soccer for ten years so maybe a little coaching could happen and without the catheter while demonstrating if there was some collision it wouldn’t be there to be ripped loose with me spewing blood all over the pitch.

It also will enable me to go to the YMCA and take saunas and sweats. Sweating is really good for you as the body excretes waste through urine, feces and sweat. During the summer I putter around in the garden and do some sweating but this time of year not so much.

Anyway, back to the bike trip. After being too ill to pedal for a month I had only had 3 sessions on the stationary bike, another 3 miles and I was poised to enter Pittsburgh. However when we went to two needles the charge nurse nixed it. She said I would have to wait until we got into the bigger needles because they was too great a chance of infiltration, blood seeping out and pooling under the skin with the “smaller” needles.

This was very disappointing but it is what it is and the bike trip is on hold.

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