Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Calcium Chondrocalcinosis

Today's post has an update on Mom, followed by some exciting family news at the end. In the previous update I reported that she had another permacath inserted on March 15 due to issues accessing her fistula. So this past week her dialysis sessions actually went rather smoothly since they've been using the permacath and giving her arm a rest. On the positive side, having a permacath actually speeds things up because they no longer have to spend time trying to get the needles into her arm correctly, which is often quite painful. On the negative side, a permacath is somewhat of a pain for the patient to take care of due to all the precautions, especially while bathing.

They did use the fistula again today (Monday), and I'll report on that later in this post. But first, some new health news for Mom came up last week. On Tuesday, March 19 she had her periodic rheumatologist appointment (with Dr. C) for her arthritis. She told him about something she has been noticing for a couple of weeks. During dialysis sessions when they use the fistula, the little finger on her right hand swells up considerably and it's painful to bend it. The swelling goes down shortly after dialysis, but the pain lingers much longer. Dr. C said it's likely some sort of calcification related to dialysis and there's nothing that can be done about it. He's been practicing for 40 years and he rarely if ever sees it.

I did some research after she told me about it and it sounds like it is something called either calcium oxalate associated arthritis or calcium chondrocalcinosis. It is unique to dialysis patients. There is no specific treatment for it, and treatments to ease the symptoms have a poor response. So once again, Mom has some rare condition and there isn't much to be done about it. She said she's tired of being so special. Hopefully this one will remain confined to her little finger.

So, how did dialysis go today, using the fistula after a week of rest? According to Mom it went pretty well. She didn't have as much pain during the needle insertion, probably for a couple of reasons. First, before leaving for dialysis she used the lidocaine cream on her arm, which she has done before, but this time it had been on there longer because it took them so long to get started. Second, they have gone down a needle size temporarily while they try to get some success with using the fistula. There were no issues getting the needles in, and no issues with the machine clogging up. But the tech who got her started said he definitely thinks she needs to have the fistula raised up closer to the surface of the skin, so we'll see what happens there.

Finally, the exciting family news is that we have an addition to the family tree. Mom became a great-grandmother and I became a grandfather, a first for both of us, when my daughter gave birth to a baby boy a few days ago. Everyone is doing fine. I've only seen pictures so far, but I can already tell he's the cutest, brightest baby there ever was.

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