Musings from a BigD Christmas party (or why I’m glad I don’t dialyse at home)

Julie and I went to the BigD Christmas party last Sunday. It’s on at the same time every year, 5pm on the last Sunday in November. At the same place, a park with a big sheltered area surrounded by trees, swings and slides. We all try to bring at least one significant other.

Chris, the Unit Manager and several of her wonderful staff and friends organise it every year. They do the hard stuff: buying the chickens and salads, cooking the snags, buttering the bread, making the punch. For the rest of us, it’s just there, ready to eat and enjoy. All for $10 a head.

It was raining a little this year, so rather than the typical 80 people, we had just over 40. It’s a tribute to our Unit that those who have spent the year putting us on and taking us off, advising and supporting, fetching and carrying for us, also come along, often with other family members to spend time with us socially.

It’s good to catch up with our fellow club members when they are out of the saddle: a chance to introduce or catch up with them and their others; kids and grandkids. Once a year we all see each other in a different light. We get a glimpse of the lives and families that make each of use what we are.  Very enjoyable and very Christmassy.  And another reason not to dialyse at home.

This was my second BigD Christmas party after a break of a few years. What struck me this year was that since the last Christmas party 6 or 7 of those that were here last year now had transplants. Of these, 5 were mostly hale, hearty and here again this year, each with their story. The absent ones were unwell to quite unwell, reinforcing the bumpy nature of the transplant journey. How many of us members will receive kidneys this year?

Of course, others here last year were also absent. They left the club permanently during the year: Jeanette I mentioned in a previous post (her excellent husband Ken was here); others left when their time came or at a time they selected. Our notice board always has a range of funeral service sheets pinned up as an ongoing reminder.

Chris made a good speech welcoming all, remembering all. Last year we were waiting to hear where the Unit was to relocate, and when. It is a tribute to the bureaucracy that just last Sunday, one year to the day later, she was able to tell us. The new Unit will be in a large multi-story building across the road from the old one. Still a little hazy on the when, but the where is definite.

I wasn’t the only one in a contemplative mood. Chris told us one other thing. I joined the Unit in 1994 when it was a hospital satellite, the sixth member of that august group, with all of 3 machines operating. A few years later it was expanded to 8 chairs and later still sold to a Gambro and then Diaverum, to become its current glory. Chris announced that after a recent death I was the last of that initial group.

I’m sure that can’t be bad, but the pressure is now on.

Regardless, I plan to be here next year for more musings and possibly to make another record: Like Woody Allen says: “80 percent of success is just turning up.”

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