Monday, 09 May 2011 03:30

Dialysis on the road again

Written by  Greg Collette
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It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post. I’ve been on the move, what with Easter and then Anzac Day and birthday celebrations in distant cities, I have had BigD in more remote units than I have had at my own.  That’s one of the pleasures of being a BigD club member: there are dialysis units and instant friends just about everywhere.

Julie and I were in Sydney for her work for the whole Easter/Anzac break, so I dialyzed for five days at Lindfield Diaverum unit. It’s an interesting unit, with beds in all but one station.  They originally planned to offer nocturnal dialysis, but failed some health department hospital test at the last-minute.  By then they had bought the beds, so there they are.  They are a little off-putting initially, especially if you want to sit up and do things.  However, most of the members of this BigD club are getting on in years, and I think they rather like the beds.  Also, I had a couple of early morning sessions, so I treated that time as an opportunity to stretch out and catch up on my ZZZs (very pleasant!).

As usual, I took my PC and did some bits and pieces: email, watched my latest video series: The Tudors.  Very good.  Gets you in right from the start.  Though there are no likable people, there are many to dislike and there is some pleasure watching a few heads roll.

Since we were there for Anzac day, we went to the Dawn Service in Martin Place in the city.  Nice early start that day: arrive at 0415, service begins at 0430.  There were a few thousand of us there, standing in the rain.  Very fitting.  The service was good, especially the Last Post, but Martin Place is quite small and cramped, and to me, lacked the camaraderie of the Melbourne dawn service.  The Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance is wonderful, and the grounds easily hold many thousands.

We also went to a double 60th birthday in Cairns, about 3,000km north, for Julie’s brother and sister-in-law.  I arranged to go to the Cairns Private Dialysis Unit, which is basically a four seat, one-person show.  Sandy is the Unit Manager.  She is very friendly and capable and it is a great place for holiday BigD.  They have Fresenius machines, blunt needles for buttonholing and supply you with two cups of tea and two rounds of sandwiches through the run. What more can you ask for?

There is also a public unit at Cairns Base Hospital, but I have never been able to get in there because it is too busy.

The birthday celebrations were a challenge.  So much good food and drink, so bad for me!  I arrived on a Friday, which in a non-dialysis day, dialyzed on the Saturday and flew home on the Sunday (my other non-BigD day).

With BigD and holidays it’s always a balance.  If you dialyse daily, you lose about 4 hours from the day, but you can eat what you like; on non-BigD days, all your time is your own, but you have to watch the fluids and the potassium/phosphate mix.

My sister-in-law has a big and well-earned reputation as a great cook, and the food just kept on coming.  My approach was to sample small bits of most things, including the wines.  That worked very well.  What with the dancing and the tropical heat, I went to bed with a fairly full and happy stomach, but not bloated and not worried about how I much fluid I would be carrying the next day.

We stayed right on the waterfront and had a great view of the giant catamarans leaving for the Great Barrier Reef islands in the morning full of energetic, happy tourists and returning in the evening still happy, but looking pretty tired.

I also met a fellow BigD friend who now lives in Cairns.  It is always good to catch with him over coffee, so we can exchange health hints and war stories. I have had aching joints lately that have stopped me jogging.  He has recommended fish oil or cod liver oil to get the joints moving again.  I will be trying out both over the next few weeks, and I will let you know how it goes.

One of my frustrations with specialists came up during this conversation.  Each specialist, including mine, has knowledge that is centimetres wide and kilometres deep.  Things are fine if your problem falls within this zone, but if not, don’t expect the same insight. The best approach is to either ask a friend who has the same problem, or find another specialist in that exact area.  The friend is usually cheaper.

I am writing this post on the plane on the way home and I’m looking forward to getting there.  That’s the thing about going away.  When you leave there is that delightful anticipation of the trip and the arrival, the new places and different life.  Then, when you are heading home it’s looking forward to getting home: settling back into your routine and sleeping in your own bed.  Bliss.


Greg Collette

Greg Collette

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