Over the last 20 years, my kidneys have been deteriorating due to long term hypertension, a medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated.
In February 2016, it became necessary for me to have a catheter line fitted into my internal jugular and at the start of February 2017 I started haemodialysis, the process of purifying my blood in order to make my kidneys work properly – more commonly known as kidney dialysis. This was a very mystifying time for me as I didn’t know what to expect.
My thoughts constantly raced, “would I be able to feel the treatment, will it hurt?” Whenever the alarm sounded, it felt serious.
Three times a week I was given a four-hour slot to undergo dialysis – somehow, I managed but I found being on a mixed ward incredibly challenging. In order for nurses to access the lines you must have your chest out which is not at all dignified. This, along with trying to keep a catheter line secure 24 hours a day was a huge undertaking for me.
Two months into my treatment I was introduced to Stephen Tooke. This was when I first learnt about Tookie and Tookie products. Myself and Steve had a long, detailed discussion about his vision for Tookie products – including the renal vest. His energy was contagious and I realised his idea, that in the future dialysis patients would be given the chance to have security and modesty whilst wearing the Tookie vest, even in bed, gave me hope.
Over the next few months, many meetings took place with renal staff and other patients, excited by Tookie like me. All of the patients involved in meetings about Tookie had different needs but all would benefit from Tookie products and be able to adapt the vest to suit their needs.
It was a marvellous experience to have an input into the design of Tookie and how we could make sure it benefitted patients the most. It’s wonderful to see the Tookie vest in action today. It’s incredibly beneficial for patients like me. The discreet design of the vest is extremely important for me, and I can imagine other female patients too. The security function of the vest is also vital as it minimises central lines and stops them falling out or requiring replacement which is very distressing and costly.
I have found that the Tookie Vest for Renal also assists nursing staff with visibility and access to manage the line exit site as the drop down flap at the shoulder on either side of the vest makes their job so much easier without having to remove clothing.
I hope that Tookie continues to be successful and that they reach their goal of bringing comfort, freedom and security to patients far and wide.
Through their foresight and determination to succeed they are giving a ‘future worth living’.