I was a guinea pig today at our local hospital, they were running a training course in renal ultrasound for doctors planning to specialize in nephrology and needed willing
victims volunteers to scan. My left arm (the one with the fistula) was scanned by fourteen doctors from various countries and was also used as a teaching demonstration by the tutor to demonstrate the use of the various possibilities of the ultrasound scanning machine – we could see the veins and arteries in black and white, Doppler imaging (red, green, blue and yellow) and also listen to the sound waves as the blood flowed through the veins and arteries. All in all very interesting and well worth giving up a cold damp November afternoon for. An added bonus is that volunteers receive book tokens to thank them for their time and a book token is always good news.
The bad news- while the tutor was doing his demonstration scan he took along time over one particular area then announced to the students that what they could see on the screen was a thrombosis in the artery wall resulting in a narrowing of the artery and causing the fistula to not empty fully when my arm was elevated. This is not good and can result in damage to the fistula and eventual failure of the fistula to work. I wanted to cry, 21 months ago I had to have a fistula angioplasty when my fistula clotted. It was a very painful and unpleasant procedure and I hoped never to darken the doors of the doctor who performed it again. I asked the tutor what I should do about the thrombosis and was given that standard piece of medical advice “keep an eye on it” and speak to the dialysis unit if the thrill (the buzzing sensation that a fistula makes when it is working well) becomes faint or stops. Sadly his parting comment that the fistula was “still patent… for now” makes me think it is only a matter of time. Ah well, we’ll just have to wait and see! I’d better choose an interesting book.