Krishna emailed me last week with a work/life/travel query that I thought may be of interest to other BigD members.
My name is Krishna, I’m 24 years old and have been on dialysis after a failed transplant from my mother for the past 2 years. I live, study and dialyse in Chennai, India. I accidentally chanced upon your blog “BigD and me” and it is such an interesting outlook on dialysis! I am studying to become a lawyer, and found your blog when I was looking for dialysis options in Hong Kong, where I hope to be travelling to in April 2011 for a law school moot court competition. I can easily relate to all that you say on your blog and frankly, it inspires me to be a better and a positive person in general.
I have a few questions about dialysis in Hong Kong, which I thought I could ask you via email:
- How much did it cost you per session at HK?
- How much in advance did you contact your centre?
- What were the centre timings?
Also, on a related note, I notice you travel quite a bit on dialysis. How do you go about arranging for dialysis sessions in foreign countries? How do you know the good centres from the butchers :)? I expect to be travelling to Vienna, Austria (as part of the same competition) and to London for an internship with a law firm, but I am quite flummoxed about setting up dialysis sessions in foreign places. Do you have any tips?
Finally, how receptive are employers to adjusting work schedules to patients who are on dialysis? I am hoping to start my career as a lawyer in about 2 years’ time, and I would like to know if there are legal provisions in the UK, US and other countries which aid in securing adjustable work schedules for patients on dialysis. Are you aware of any?
Please keep writing Greg! You’ve gotten yourself another faithful blog follower :).
Warm regards, Krishna
Krishna it was great to hear from you and I am very pleased that you enjoy the blog.
To answer your questions re: Hong Kong:
1. How much did it cost you per session at HK?
The renal unit was at the Sanatorium & Hospital at Happy Valley. It cost about HK$3,000 per session, this includes the cost of a consultant visit.
2. How much in advance did you contact your centre?
I made arrangements about three weeks before my trip. They speak English and respond quickly.
3. What were the centre timings?
The centre is open from 0700 to 2000. I started each session around 0830. They seem pretty flexible.
Regarding travel and choosing a reliable service, Western Europe is fine. Holiday dialysis is a well-worn path. One drawback is that the services are usually quite expensive, sometimes up to US$1,000 per session. Ask before you commit. For contact details, check out http://www.globaldialysis.com/. They have a great network.
Travel on dialysis is no great burden. You are already used to the time commitment, and it can be quite fun seeing all the different approaches and techniques as you travel (not to mention the people!). The cost is a pain, but I think the best thing to do is think of it as part of the travel cost for BigD members: an unavoidable expense.
Working on BigD
Regarding work and the BigD, I don’t know of any legal provisions for employers to smooth the job hunt but I do know many people who work on dialysis. While employers reactions vary, most are pretty flexible. The ideal approach is to share the load. If you dialyse three times a week, maybe set up one session after work hours, one that maybe starts an hour before you would normally leave work, and one early in the day (say 7am or earlier) that allows you to start work by lunchtime. Or select other quiet times if those hours are busy.
Let your employer know that you dialyse, tell them that you will try to minimise the impact and that maybe instead of working 40 hrs per week, you can work 30 or 35 hrs. Also, you can always read work stuff, take calls and answer emails while you are on the machine. One of the guys in our unit was an operations manager. He was always communicating, answering queries, organising people. He picked up the phone as soon as he was connected and didn’t put it down again until he was coming off. He was amazing. You will find you own level.
There are other options, including night dialysis. This has real benefits, and once you are used to it, it frees you for work (and play) through the day. I will write more about the latest in nocturnal BigD in my next post.
The key is not to hold back. If you want to travel, give it a go now! If you are worried about employment, contact prospective firms now and ask. I am sure you will be surprised how far and fast things will move for you.
Good luck with the competitions and keep in touch. I hope we meet in some distant renal unit sooner rather than later!