Before the BigD, one of the things I looked forward to was a holiday – overseas, interstate or whatever – an opportunity to get away from the day-to-day and recharge.
But when I started the BigD, I thought travel was off the agenda. It would be just me and the machine, 5 days per week, no break, no escape, forever.
Julie and I had long planned to take our children to Europe while they were still young. About a year after the failed kidney swap, the stars aligned. We inherited some money, both of us could get time off, we had friends to stay with. So we made our plans, set the dates and bought the tickets.
Contacting Dialysis Centres
It was (and is) actually not that difficult to arrange holiday BigD. We used Global Dialysis, a UK website that listed dialysis centres around the world. It was far from complete then, but it’s terrific now.
We contacted the centres in the places we planned to visit (initially by email, and sometimes a follow up by phone or fax) and booked me in. I planned to dialyse every second day, so in most cases, we arranged to travel on non BigD days and to stay put on BigD days. Once these arrangements were set up, I handed the plan and contacts over to my Dialysis Centre, who exchanged paperwork and reports, etc with each unit. I also got a letter from my doctor, which I carried with me just in case the paperwork went missing or there was some emergency.
There is a big difference in cost between dialysing in public vs private units. Australia has reciprocal health care agreements with United Kingdom, Ireland, Finland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand and Sweden. So in theory I could dialyse for free in public units in any of these countries. However, it is often not possible to get into the public units because they are always busy. It seems to be the luck of the draw, but it’s worth asking: I’ve dialysed for free in both Ireland and Italy, but no success elsewhere.
So in general, unless I have ironclad guarantees, I go to private units. A private unit charges at least $US250 per treatment, sometimes much more. Check before you book. Some health funds refund part of the fee (usually up to the amount they pay for your treatment at home). I think the best way to look at these payments is as another cost of travel. BigD travel is more expensive that healthy travel: that’s just how it is.
Medications. Go to your local pharmacy and get you meds set up in a series of blister packs. It’s cheap, safe and simple.
For holiday details in your country, go to Google and type in “Holiday Dialysis”. Get going. You won’t regret it!