Choosing the ideal dialysis unit

I’ve been to a few BigD units over the years. Some were great, others I couldn’t get out of quickly enough. The difference is not just private vs public; it’s both simpler and more complex than that.

There are a range of factors that contribute to the ideal BigD unit. Many are universal; others depend on your time of life and lifestyle. For me:

First, I want to feel safe (universal). Where the quality of the care and staff expertise is high. Where people keep current; the unit is accredited with an appropriate health accreditation body; performance is measured and ranked; I have an allocated nurse; my test results are discussed and explained with me; where if I have questions, I get reliable advice.

Second, I need flexibility (individual). I still work, so I want to minimise the impact of the BigD on my work life. I also want to have dinner with my wife at least 3 week nights and I want minimal gaps between session breaks. To add to the mix, I occasionally need to swap to different times, to travel or to attend out-of-hours functions. A good unit will as much as possible give me session times that suit these needs (my BigD unit does). I know that scheduling BigD sessions is only a couple of notches down from brain surgery, but it is a skill a good BigD unit needs.

Third, creature comforts (individual). The basics are a good quality adjustable reclining chair with a footrest, a lambs wool seat cover, fresh linen on the chair and arm pillow for each run, a chair-side table with sufficient space to keep personal stuff close at hand. A good quality TV. Tea or coffee or ice water through the run, with something light to eat (sandwiches, cake, etc.) about 2/3rds into the run.

Over and above the basic creature comforts include items that can help me make more productive use of BigD time (more on this in another post). For example:

  • Wireless internet access for us computer dudes, and ideally the ability to share internet videos on one of the unit’s TV channels for others to enjoy (this is easy of the unit’s TVs are digital)
  • Stationary exercise bikes for use during the first hour of dialysis.

Fourth, food (individual). Eating well is part of a healthy BigD regime. If like me, you can eat on the BigD*, and your session times are during lunch or dinner time, a good BigD unit will provide a substantial meal (especially for dinner). By provide, I don’t mean give. I am happy to pay for it (as with some of the creature comforts above). But for me, without those meals, I would either not eat, or eat late, both are undesirable for any BigD club member.

Fifth, proximity (individual). This can be tricky. You’ll travel to your unit three to five times each week. If you have the choice, how important is your time vs quality of the BigD? A new BigD unit has set up about five minutes from my work, whereas my unit is a 30 minute trip through peak hour traffic, which adds about an hour to my daily BigD timeslice. But I’m staying put, because it meets all my individual needs. And who can say how long it would take to train another unit?

Regarding private vs public, I’ve chosen a private unit because it’s easier for them to fulfil my individual needs.

Choose your unit for your individual needs.

Have I missed any other factors that make an ideal BigD unit? Let me know!

*Not everyone can eat on the BigD. Food draws water from your body to help with digestion. If your fluid level is finely balanced, eating may cause your blood pressure to drop very low, making you dizzy, nauseous, sweaty and even to pass out. Not recommended.

5 thoughts on “Choosing the ideal dialysis unit

  1. Nice site. Been on dialysis a month. Right now only have a hickman. Definitely a new lifestyle. Thanks for your insight.


  2. Just wanted you to know that I read your whole site…very openly written and honest.

    Been on dialysis about 4 months now and coming to grips with it. I was trying everything to get out of it at first, now I accept it as just another life obstacle.

    I even started an Internet business since I’ve been on dialysis and since my unit has wi-fi, I get there and just set up shop!

    Thank you for the good reading material…be well…


    • Thanks for your comment Patrick and congratulations on getting through. Its a big deal physically and a bigger one psychologically.

      And good luck with the shop!



  3. Nice thought about choosing your Dialysis Unit, but not many dialysis people get to choose the Unit they dialyze in, especially public hospital people.


  4. Pingback: What does dialysis and a kidney transplant cost? | Big D and Me

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