Friday, May 30, 2014

Kidney Dialysis Clinical (Write Up)

I recently had a long day of clinicals at a kidney dialysis center.  This was my first time being thoroughly exposed to the world of kidney dialysis. I worked with a variety of nurses as well as dialysis technicians and a nephrologist or two. The first nurse I worked with showed me around the clinic, introduced me to staff and briefly informed me about the details of kidney dialysis treatments that were provided there.  It was a slightly overwhelming realization as I watched an entire room full of people—of both genders and all ages (but mostly older) sitting on reclining chairs whose bodies were hooked up to elaborate machines.

The kidney dialysis machine happened to be a bulky contraption positioned right next to the patient. Some patient’s had venous and arterial catheters inserted into different sections of their subclavian artery used for hemodialysis access. Other patients had either a graft or fistula in their arm where a vein (such as the basilic vein) and artery had been anastomosed. A catheter would be inserted into this graft or fistula to facilitate blood exchange. The catheters inserted into the patient’s body lead out into a confusing, serpentine display of flexible plastic tubing. The nurses were kind and taught me how to set up the hemodialysis machine. They observed patiently as I threaded the tubing through all the necessary facets and compartments of the machine.  This act reminded me of threading my sewing machine. There was a cylindrical container (AKA “Artificial Kidney”) that had a densely packed mesh-like fabric inside of it. The patient’s blood would flow from the bottom of this cylinder to the top.  The patient’s blood would pass through the mesh-like reticular structure inside the artificial kidney and sludge and waste products from the blood were funneled out and escorted through a tube and eventually into a draining system. I became mesmerized by this entire process.

 Never before had I considered the exquisite workings of the kidney and its incredible yet indispensable function. I became saddened and dismal, realizing that so many human beings were on kidney dialysis 3 times each week for a period of 4 hrs each appointment. This was something that rarely made it out into the media—something that fully functional human beings outside of the medical field were unaware of. It made me realize how much quality of life would be impacted, but still, they had a few days of the week that were available to do other things. However, since dialysis treatments took a good chunk of the day (3days a week) and this did not include the trip to and from the dialysis center, dialysis patients would have a difficult time managing a full time job. This also made me reflect on the importance of organ donation.  

The nurse pulled me aside and informed me about the differences between hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. I learned that peritoneal dialysis could be done via a home machine and could be used while the patient was sleeping (at night).  Patients using PD had a permanent tube inserted into their abdomen from which dialysis would take place. Because the peritoneum (the serous membrane that lines the abdominal cavity) is rich with capillaries and therefore blood flow, the waste products in the blood could be filtered out into this peritoneal space.  A type of solution known as “Dialysate” was used with this form or filtration. The Dialysate solution would be pumped into the peritoneal space. Next, the peritoneum and the solution would act as a filtering mechanism for the body’s blood. Waste products from the blood would be filtered out of the body along with the Dialysate solution.

At the kidney clinic I was informed that many (if not most) of the individuals who were on kidney dialysis had underlying health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.  These chronic conditions were well known to cause damage to the vessels—in this case, the kidneys in particular. Diabetes increases the speed of blood flow into the kidney. This increase in blood flow causes the kidney glomeruli to work harder; scarring and hardening can be a result.  I learned that diabetic nephropathy is a leading cause of kidney failure in the United-States.

Other experienced professionals at this facility included dieticians and social workers. I was shocked to learn all about the dietary restrictions of those on kidney dialysis treatments. Nutrients that were monitored included the patient’s intake of: phosphorus, sodium and potassium. Also, fluid restriction was a necessity for dialysis patients. (I learned that those on dialysis usually do not urinate as their fluids and wastes are removed during each 4 hr treatment.)

Thankfully I was able to get a tiny amount of hands-on experience. I was able to flush the venous and arterial subclavian catheters of one patient and also able to administer heparin. The day was a long one with some bouts of monotony, but I definitely learned a lot about kidneys and kidney dialysis.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Below is an excerpt from my journal back at the beginning of 2009 when I was deconverting from Christianity (losing my faith).

            When I thought back about it, it was true that everything in my life could have happened without the intervention of a supernatural entity.  I had never once had a “spiritual” encounter, seen Jesus physically, or audibly heard God speaking to me.  Likewise, never did I see Allah, fairies, Vishnu, angelic beings, leprechauns, the Virgin Mary or Thor.   The senses that God supposedly had given me to investigate every possible aspect of my life, happened to be the very same senses, when candidly applied, had never given me any access to the supernatural realm.  
           After all, I had never seen something like a miracle—an event that actually defied physical laws.  It didn't matter how much I prayed or how intense my faith, there was never the movement of a mountain, or, even on a far more diminutive scale, the revision of my psychologically damaging acne scars and horrible skin conditions.  In fact, the events in my life as well as in the lives of others seemed to unfold exactly as they would from an entirely physical, genetic, environmental—natural perspective.  As I looked more closely at the (natural) world, where people were born, their genetic traits (looks, intelligence, health) as well as a dash of luck—all physical entities, are really what appeared to be some of the most important aspects of one’s (a persons) life—and these aspects really were what created the inequalities that were observed in the world.  Everything became easily explained by physical, material reasons, not by supernatural and/or Biblical reasons.   When I began to flesh out the dogma and ideology of religion and the entrapment's of spirituality and the supernatural, life and its circumstances could be explained in a purely natural manner.
Religion became superfluous to reality.  It may have offered comfort to the mind, but ultimately it did not offer the truth about reality that we could actually know, and that is what I was looking for. Religion gave us conjectural possibilities taught us to more thoroughly examine our motives, but it never provided incontrovertible answers. There would always be exceptions as science marched forward. Most of the time, religion would give overly simplistic answers to very pressing, significant issues such as how best to wield science for moral issues (the welfare of humanity—in all its multiplicity of circumstances) as well environmental and climate issues.)
         The world just makes more sense without gods (or god)—without viewing it from a supernatural context.  Humanity cannot even agree on single religious philosophy or much less how to properly form a family.  Thus, the existence of religion more likely attested to the varied expressions and dimensions of the human mind and its mystification with the natural world—so many people grappling with their various levels of experience, education and intelligence.
           In a sense religion is the human attempt to find meaning in themselves as they grapple with their higher brain functions of the pre-frontal cortex and its ability to judge the meaning of life/existence.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

MEN have the UPPER HAND in FINDING a DATE/RELATIONSHIP?? (long-term, that is)

Is DATING and eventually finding a LONG-TERM PARTNER a NUMBERS GAME? Is the competitive advantage in the gender where the demand is greater than the supply? I know there are a LOT more factors to consider here but I thought this was kind of interesting. 

Note: This video addresses the dynamics of heterosexual relationships only.

Quotes below taken from the most recent article above

"Put simply, for today’s never-married women, a “good” man is harder to find."
"Among never-married adults aged 25 to 34, the number of employed, available men per 100 women has dropped to 91 in 2012, from 139 in 1960."

Other Links:

Below is a very recent article/video link about how women in a certain age group are outpacing men in the area of monetary earnings. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

We PREFER our PHONES over other People?

Every time I go out to dinner with my husband I find myself making observations. I often spy tables of young, 20-somethings gathered together rapt in lengthy, exciting conversations about particle physics, astronomy, transhumanism and its moral and social implications. These characters are immersed in delightful exchange and solving life’s riddles with the uninhibited giddiness that only a young brain with a dash of absinthe could achieve.

 I’m only kidding, of course.  What I actually see happening all around me is a new social phenomenon of sorts. While people still make the effort to go out to dinner with their “friends”, the eating part of the experience is the only thing they are doing together. For instance, I see people sitting physically beside each other at these tables. Their corporeal bodies are roughly 6-12 inches away from the individual sitting next to them; their minds, however, couldn't be further away from each other. Instead of a head and neck projected upward, attentive to the speech of their friends, the head and trunk of their body is projected downward, absorbed into a gadget with a flashing screen—a far more tantalizing prospect.   This is a rather new social occurrence, the latest trend in gathering that may be here to stay. I call it the, “Let’s get together and ignore each other” phenomenon.

A new realization has burgeoned. An awakening has swept across humanity. People have finally realized that other people (friends, family, acquaintances) in their 3-dimensional form have very little to offer so they have naturally turned to the 2-dimensional universe within their phones.  Why engage with the 3-dimensional imbecile sitting next to you when you can watch far more perfect people on the internet?  Why deal with the awkward blathering of the junior high-school drop-out sitting beside you when you can listen to perfectly knowledgeable speech from a PhD on the interface of your phone?

Just kidding again! Rarely do I see people using their phones to listen to presentations offered by scientists or to learn the etymology of words or even research global happenings. Instead, they are on a quest to far more sophisticated searches, like the latest picture of Kim Kardashian after shedding her baby weight or opening facebook to declare “I’m out to dinner with friends” while they ignore their corporeal friends to look at pictures and statuses of their facebook friends.

Is life really simply better when you’re in cyberspace? Have we created a society where external stimulation could never compare to the stimulation of the inner-world, the internet? Does the stimulation provided by the internet (like that of a fast food restaurant) appeal more to our base desires? Are there statistics to even back up this suggestion?

I think it is because of this: The internet offers the user unlimited options. The internet is, quite frankly, the apex of choice. Don’t like the way someone looks sitting beside you at the table? Find someone on the internet that looks better. Don’t appreciate the limited humor abilities of your friends at the table? Find a comedian on the internet with more skill, better delivery and more original content. Don’t enjoy listening to disheartening or bland discussions about a television show, dream or someone’s recurring medical problem? Find a youtube video or open up facebook to find far more exciting postings that actually engage your attention—as if the content was customized just for you!

Without a doubt the internet offers the individual options that could never be found in the real, 3-dimensional world. With more options, we are more apt to find exactly what we are looking for. Once there we can tune out the obnoxious chatter of the 3D people sitting beside us (they are doing the same thing to us, mind you.)

Perhaps the internet is just making the real world appear far more boring by comparison. Or, in a slightly different vein, it is making us, as people, more boring individuals.