Today I went to a dialysis center to observe as a student for a few hours. It's lovely place, very comfortable with big recliners and chandeliers. When you go on dialysis you have to go three times a week so the staff gets to know the patients very well. There was a lot of friendly greeting everywhere.
I mostly followed Adolfo around, who sets up all the tubes and machines with fast, precise fluidity. It's something to behold. All the patients get their treatment in one room, sitting in a circle, and the nurses and techs float around the circle doing maintenance on the machines and the patients. Some of the patients looked really sick and some of them you'd never guess have chronic disease if you ran into them on the street. But in both groups I recognized patients I've seen in the hospital before. One of them was coming to end of today's treatment when I went over to talk with him. I remembered all kinds of details about him, having had him as a patient several times. He remembered nothing about me. For all I know he thought I was hitting on him. Adolfo came to check him out because his blood pressure had dropped to 90/60, a natural consequence of the treatment.
"How are you, my friend?" asked Adolfo.
"Oh, just fine," said the patient. His blood pressure continued to drop, now to 70/35. He looked up at me with wide, flat eyes.
"You're very pretty," he said to me.
"Keep talking," I told him.
Adolfo chuckled. "That enough for you, amigo," he said, stopping the treatment, "I don't want you to go see San Pedro."
The patient, entirely agreeing he was not ready to knock on San Pedro's door just yet, was eventually fine and gave me one last curious look before jumping into his wheelchair and going back into the world. I wonder if he'll remember me the next time we meet.
I have always had a strange confidence about kidney disease, the confidence that comes with having eight siblings who I think are basically generous people. If I needed a kidney pronto I'm pretty sure they'd all say yes, even the ones to whom I still owe money. It's not a theory I'm itching to test out, but it's nice to have one less thing to worry about.