So, I guess you might be wondering just how I can chat away about a home dialysis machine and gardening. Well, let's start at the beginning.
A brief History
A few weeks prior to getting married my future husband was told he would soon need to commence dialysis due to chronic kidney failure. The Doctors worked hard to keep him off the machine as long as possible and 6 months after we were married he started a nine year journey on a kidney dialysis machine.
For the first two years he attended a city hospital 25 miles from home every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings where he spent a total of 15 hours a week on the artificial kidney machine. At that time there were no local clinics to attend and the only other option was for us to start to use a home dialysis machine.
We were taught how to use a gambro dialysis machine by the hospital staff over a few weeks. I was in effect the dialysis technician, a daunting thought as I am the type of person who drives an automatic and has trouble with can openers - machines are not my forte. However, the gambro dialysis machine is a very sophisticated machine and thankfully a very forgiving one. We used the same home dialysis machine for seven years - with great success.
These machines are in a hospital - we did home dialysis instead.
The next part of the story
When we bought our first home over 20 years ago we had such high plans for the house and garden. We worked five days a week and come the weekends we truly spent every daylight hour in the 1/3 of an acre garden transforming it into a sculptured oasis.
I particularly like color so we planted for every season to make sure we always had plants in bloom all year round. It was exhausting as every gardener knows - but we did reap the rewards, our garden was a showpiece - for three years.
When we designed and planted our garden we didn't care which growing zone our plants belonged to, whether or not they fitted naturally into our growing conditions and their water requirements were of no concern at all. We knew what we wanted in our garden and we got it regardless of financial cost and with a near total lack of awareness of environmental issues (such was the early 1980's for many of us)
As I say we reaped the rewards of our garden for three years. It was after that time we decided to use a home dialysis machine for my husband three nights a week after work.
That certainly changed our lives and our garden. When you use a kidney dialysis machine you need two things, access to electricity and main water pressure - for 20 hours a week - every week. As mentioned we had created an English style cottage garden which requires an excessive amount of water for Australian growing conditions.
Our water allocation was just enough for our personal house needs and the kidney dialysis machine, certainly not enough for the garden, especially the way we had been using water. One option was for us to continue with the current garden and pay truly exorbitant excess water rates, which we could not afford.
Instead we decided there and then to let the garden sort itself out, we stopped watering TOTALLY and tragically watched so many of the 'imported' plants wither and die, we lost over 90% of what we planted. A garden is a place where life and death struggles occur in silence each and every day, it certainly was the case at our place during this time.
Eventually the old dead plants were pulled out, gapping holes appeared in what were once gorgeous garden beds then predictably the weeds started to take over. I arranged for a person to cut the lawns and we left the garden alone.
Well, it was the best thing we could have done, the garden became self regulating, plants grow to their maximum potential when left alone, new plants appeared as if out of nowhere. Without any help from us we were eventually invaded by native parakeets, rosellas, bellbirds, wattlebirds, frogs, native ferns, fruit trees and native orchids. We had allowed the garden to be self managing and it had created what friends called a scene from an Indiana Jones movie as it was more like a jungle. Whenever we had visitors with children we always entertained outside as the kids loved to 'play with the trees'. Not on the trees, not around the trees but actually with the trees. All this in a suburban backyard.
The garden was self sufficient, it was certainly water efficient as we NEVER watered it - not even once. Plants lived and died according to their own survival skills. We had inadvertently become model environmental, eco friendly gardeners whose advice was sought by neighbours and friends who also wanted to reduce the amount of water they were wasting on their own gardens.
If we had not chosen to use the home dialysis machine we would have missed the opportunity to experience such a natural and organic creation of life as we witnessed in our garden every day.
What seemed at the moment of deciding to never water the garden again as a sadness turned into joy as the years went by. We reaped the rewards of leaving nature to itself.
The story continues...
After 9 years on dialysis (7 of those using our home dialysis machine) my husband continues to have a VERY successful kidney transplant, that was 22 years ago.