As my kidney function decreased, I had about nine months of aches and pains. I saw various doctors, but none diagnosed it. Eventually, I decided when the time came for dialysis, I would not take it. One day the supermarket was out of budget milk. Looking around they had the new zero-lactose milk. My wife had long been off lactose, so I suggested we try this. She didn't like it, but within two days all my aches and pains had gone.

My first impression of dialysis was a group of people sitting on machines that clean our blood. I quickly learned that to avoid waking with cramps in the small hours I had to make some changes.

I took magnesium after dialysis finished. Following the transplant, I take diuretics (not all do) which do much the same thing as dialysis as I found out when cramps returned. They weren't quite as extreme, but still not pleasant. I'm still taking magnesium.

I also found I could control the program of the machine. By default, they process the blood evenly. I found a better plan for me was to have a couple of spells at high speed followed by a couple of brief breaks, then a couple of spells at medium speed with a couple more breaks. Finally, I ended with low speed. Overall the same throughput was achieved. It was only the rate of blood cleansing that was changed. The machines other functions were unchanged.

Now you might think that's quite interesting, but what does it have to do with doctors? A third change I made required a doctor to authorise it. One day when my kidney doctor was away I was reviewed by another doctor. He agreed to increase my target weight by 1 or 1.5 kg - and with that my cramps were finally over. They determine the dialysis programme based on our start and target weights (we're not passing urine) and this final change made all the difference.

It's not only patients who can have a blinkered mindset. Over 90% of kidneys patients are there because of unhelpful choices, mainly over eating and drinking (too much of the wrong sorts) and exercise (too little). So there's another lesson - consider getting a second opinion if you're not happy with the first.