Last week Julie and I went to Brisbane for a short holiday around a long weekend. As any member of the BigD club knows, this meant some pre-organising. We decided to go about six weeks ago, which is when I raised it with the Chris, the ever-obliging Manager of my BigD Unit.
There are two dialysis units I know of in Brisbane, one at the Greenslopes Private Hospital and the other at the Wesley Hospital in Auchenflower.
I chose Greenslopes because it used to be a Repatriation Hospital for military personnel, and I had good experience with the Concord Repat when I was in the navy. Good experience? I met my future wife there! It was better than good.
The Repats have an interesting history, which I am happy to share. The federal government established military hospitals in all states during WWII, to look after injured servicemen and women returning from the various frontlines around the world. They were:
- Prince of Wales Military Hospital in Randwick (1915, for WWI veterans), until the newly built Concord Repat in Sydney (1953)
- Repat Hospital Hobart (1921 on, for WWI and WWII veterans)
- Adelaide Military Hospital at Springbank in Daw Park, Adelaide (1941)
- Heidelberg Military Hospital in Melbourne (1941)
- Greenslopes Military Hospital in Brisbane (1942, just after Pearl Harbor was bombed)
- Hollywood Military Hospital in Perth (1942).
All were renamed Repatriation Hospitals after WW11, with a primary role of supporting returned service people. In the 1990s, all were either merged with state hospitals or sold off to become private hospitals (like Greenslopes). Hence, though it bears no resemblance to its previous Repat incarnation, I chose Greenslopes.
The BigD club from the practitioner’s viewpoint is a small one. Most people, doctors, nurses and technicians who have been working in dialysis for a while get to know everyone else, either because they work with them, coordinate various activities between institutions, sit on committees or boards, meet or present papers at conferences, change jobs or just coordinate patient holiday visits. Whatever the network she used, Chris arranged my Brisbane visit within a couple of days.
It is difficult to stick to your routine when you go on a BigD holiday to another unit. Most units I have visited won’t allow daily dialysis; they have too many patients and thus not enough empty spots. My five day per week routine became a one day on, one day off routine, which I found difficult since I had to always watch my diet and fluid intake. No relaxing on this dialysis holiday!
Still, I presented myself at the Greenslopes dialysis unit at about 1:45 pm on Saturday for my first run, scheduled for 2pm. It is a fairly big unit, with about 20 seats arranged in bays. They were expecting me and all was ready to go. I was on within 15 minutes, had a good run and departed just over three hours later. There is always something you can learn when you are visiting other units. Two things stuck in my mind here:
- Each unit serves a drink sometime through the run. About ten minutes after the tea and sandwiches at Greenslopes, they come around again with pikelets! Butter or strawberry jam? I chose the jam.
- Chris, my nurse for both runs, had a great way of folding the gauze used to stop bleeding when the needles come out. It was almost too fast to see. Lots of triangles and wings, and wallah! a 1 cm square pad ideal for focussing pressure on a small area. (If I go there again, I will take a video!)
- One thing I can’t understand. It must be known to everyone how uncomfortable, sticky and sweaty it is to sit for 3-4 hours on a vinyl-covered seat without any cover, not even a sheet. I know I am biased, I deeply missed my lovely lambswool seat cover AND sheet. Just a sheet for visitors next time would make a big difference. I’d be happy to pay for the laundry.
The Brisbane trip itself was a nice break. We had a lovely lunch with our daughter in law’s parents, our son and his wife and Harry, our grandson.
And three days in Brisbane is actually enough. It is a pretty city on a big river. As far as attractions, it reminds me of a big country town, where most people do things with friends or groups, rather than be entertained by big city attractions. So most points of interest are confined to the city proper or along the river. We bought full-day tickets for the City Cat, a catamaran ferry service the plies the river from end to end and got on and off as we pleased. The walk through the city’s Queen St Mall was good for a coffee and a snoop. Southbank, on the opposite side of the river, was full of parks and displays, theatres and art galleries, so we got our cultural fix. Not a good place for a snack though: all fast food, and salt on anything that sat still for more than a minute.
The second day we felt like being at a beach. The Big One is 77km south of Brisbane: the Gold Coast. Sun and surf, and unconstrained development and fast food. Not too much serenity there! So we decided on checking out the local coastline, once miles of mangrove, now a suburbia of drained and concreted waterfront views. We headed to Manly, a waterfront “village” about 20km north of the city. We drove the Esplanade, checked out the views and the pool, had a coffee. Then south past lots of developments and new roads and eventually to the pointy end of Wellington Point: a pretty place that juts out into Moreton Bay. There is a picnic area with some very old and nicely manicured Moreton Bay Figs, several electric barbeques and a pleasant view into the blue of Moreton Bay. Also, a very large carpark, two boat ramps, and a pier cut into the mangroves for the local boating enthusiasts. Boating is very popular all along the Bayside (mangroves not so popular).
All in all a restful rather than stimulating stay in sunny Brisbane, made possible by my new friends at Greenslopes. It will take a week or so get back to my normal routine, after which I will begin planning my next BigD holiday (in even sunnier Cairns).