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Wondering about Social Life in HD Centers

Hi All!

I am 64-year-old man with a long history of dealing with CKD and dialysis. I started doing peritoneal dialysis in 2005 and continued until I got a transplant in 2009. I think I was probably lucky that I didn't have to wait longer. My kidney has been holding up, but my eGFR has been hanging around 15 for several months. My nephrologist says she thought I'd be on dialysis months ago. I'm trying to stave off dialysis as long as I can, but I feel I should be prepared.

I have decided that I would rather do in-center hemodialysis this time around. Doing PD at home was fine when I was younger, but I don't think I can face dealing with the supplies and setting up the machine every night. I think I would rather let a professional be responsible. I already have a fistula ready to go.

What I'm wondering is this: What is the social life like in the dialysis center? Do people talk with each other, or do they keep to themselves? Should I bring my tablet so I can read books and watch movies? Or should I be ready to engage in scintillating conversation with my fellow patients?

6 Replies


Like you I have been on PD but recently had to move to hemo, I decided to go for home hemo which will happen in about 4 weeks after my training is complete.

Have some banter with the others in the same ward, I normally take a paper to read.

I am 70 and work full time and ok with home hemo, this will give me more freedom than P D. Will later think of nocturnal hemo.

I am are you will make the best choice for yourself.




Units vary to be honest. Of my 26 years on dialysis, 16 were at the unit, the rest at home. I have had some of the biggest laughs whilst on dialysis with fellow patients and have made some lifelong friends; some of which are nurses. You may not always sit next to the same people, but in my experience, nurses do try to sit friends together. You will experience what it feels like to actually talk to those who know what it's like living on dialysis. You'll be able to pick up tips about diet and share your own experiences of kidney failure. Eventually you may decide you would like to take control of the machine yourself and maybe consider it at home. I love home hd, but I do miss my friends on the unit whom I no longer see.


I agree, every unit is different. I am in a small satellite unit with only 8 chairs in the main part and 4 side rooms. This is cozy in one way but the way the machines are positioned means you cannot talk to anyone unless they are directly opposite you. Having said that it is a jolly friendly atmosphere whilst you are on the machine but you do get the distinct feeling that we are only extensions of the machines and unless how you feel affects their paperwork they are not interested. When a fellow patient, who you may have spent several years, every week x 3 sitting together, dies, you are not told and it's as if they were never there. To realise that can be a rude awakening. Despite all this I would rather be in a unit although this is probably because I live alone and would feel extremely isolated


Hello lincoln 53

I think it is different in every unit - the unit at Norfolk and Norwich has the beds quite close together for HD sessions and when we were shown the area, it felt more like an airport lounge where people are waiting for a flight! There was no conversation going on at that time as everyone was plugged into music or watching TV or reading a book or paper. But it was a calm atmosphere and people looked healthy as well - you would not have known that they were patients at all!

1 like

Hi there,

I always bring my iPad with some downloaded programmes from BBC or Netflix as the wifi isn't strong enough for streaming. Or a book! Headphones are good too as it can be noisy.

The nurses are really friendly and nice but won't be chatting for the full four hours! Many patients are sleeping or watching TV but sometimes you end up having a chat.

Good luck with it! You'll soon find a good routine.


1 like

I finally started hemodialysis 3 months ago. In my center, the chairs are too far apart to carry on a conversation with fellow patients, so I too use my laptop and Kindle to fill the time. I do have brief encounters with some of the other patients. Everyone seems friendly and gives me a smile when I say, "Good morning!" I don't know the names of any of the other patients. The techs and nurses are also friendly. I am just beginning to learn their names.


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