Dialysis: perfecting the Mini-Holiday



Inverloch, on the coast.


December-January are the traditional summer holiday months in Australia.  And very pleasant they are too.  The only hassle is the there is no such thing as a holiday from the BigD: I still need that life-giving treatment.  So taking a holiday during the holidays season needs a little extra planning.

For me, there are two ways to get a break:  1 – take a short trip between sessions and 2 – go somewhere that has a dialysis unit that offers holiday dialysis.

Over the last few weeks, I have done both.

Short Trips

Each week I have two days off the BigD, Friday and Sunday.  In both cases, I dialyse the following day at 7am.  That means Julie and I can hop in the car straight after the BigD on Thursday or Saturday, go somewhere nice, stay the night and drive home the afternoon of the following day.

We had two of these short trips over the last three weeks: one to Falls Creek Alpine Village (see this post) and one to Inverlock, a beachside town on the Gippsland Coast, about 1.5 hrs from home.

It is a beautiful little place, with good coffee shops and a fantastic stretches of surf beach.  I’m not a surfer, but luckily I’m a coffee drinker!  And I like to watch the ocean on the shore and walk on the sand.  I can’t do these things at home, so it qualifies as an instant holiday.  The fact that our grandchildren were holidaying there was an added bonus.

Short as it was, it was still a genuine break, and I was away long enough to miss my bed (though that may have had something to do with our grandson and his early rising habits).

Holiday Dialysis


Beautiful Metung!

Last week we went on a longer trip, to Metung, about 4 hours from Melbourne.  It is a tiny village nestled on Lake King on the Gipplsand coast, facing the Tasman Sea and New Zealand, about 1,200km due East.  It is a beautiful place with lots of boardwalks, water views and an excellent coffee shop and bakery.

What’s more, it’s only 20 minutes from Bairnsdale, the largest town in the region and luckily, the home of the Bairnsdale Dialysis Unit (part of Bairnsdale Regional Health Service).  It is a busy 6-seat unit, open six days per week.  They are about to expand to a new unit that will have 9 seats.  They offer holiday BigD given sufficient notice (in my case, one of the regulars went to Melbourne for a holiday, and I had her chair).

It is a friendly unit, with capable and professional staff who know their business.  Being part of a public hospital, BigD is free to all locals.  I don’t know what they charge for overseas visitors, but with all the lakes, rivers, and secluded beauty spots, it’s worth it!

I was the first buttonholer the staff had seen for some time, so I had a show and tell session on inserting needles for buttonholing.  I brought my own blunt needles (few public hospitals do buttonholing, so if you do, take a supply with you).  The only thing to be careful about is to make sure you tell the staff how the needles should be taken out (at the same angle they go in) or they may press down and pull them out at the wrong angle, damaging the buttonhole tunnel.

I had a great session. It went quickly and I was back at Metung within 30 minutes – in time for a barbecue dinner and a stroll along the waterfront.  We were again part of our extended family, and we spent the evening playing 500 (and winning) and then minding the grandkids while their mum and dad went out to dinner.

We stayed two nights and headed home about 11am Sunday.  Though it was short, getting away was a real holiday and we really enjoyed it.

So much so that we have decided to do it again next week.  We are off to Sydney for the Australia Day break – four days).  I will be dialysing at Lindfield, a northern suburb about 20 minutes from the city and the harbour.  I’ll let you know more about that in the next post.

In the meantime, get out of the house and out of town, if you possibly can, at least for a day or two.  Take a train, a plane, an automobile or a boat: the joy of the new awaits.

12 thoughts on “Dialysis: perfecting the Mini-Holiday

  1. Love your blog. It is wonderful to hear from someone going through dialysis. I actually saw my surgeon today and will have surgery in the next week or so for my fistula. Several months away from dialysis and hoping for a living donor match for a transplant soon. Your blog helps me to be positive concerning my situation. I only found out I have Poly cystic kidney disease in April, so everything is really happening fast! I an glad to hear that dialysis helps you feel better. I have heard that it only makes someone tired and listless. It’s great to hear positive feedback from someone going through this. Thanks again!


  2. Beverley: Just had to tell you that you dont have to be tired & listless on dx! I’ve been on both Pertitoneal & now haemodx. & I have energy to burn, working full time, exercising & enjoying life! Hb is stable, no infections, no-one can tell by looking at me that I’m even on dx! I am healthier than people with normal kidney function. There are a few ‘tricks’ to maintaining this. The constant loss of blood via the lines (& no erythropoetin) takes its toll.
    This is how I do it: Iron & B vites: pre/post, fish oil, non-toxic herbs / ginsengs, silymarin, ginkgo, CoQ 10, Lipoic acid, zinc, probiotics & antioxidants. These are all safe & do not interfere with the dx or medications. They are cell protective & nutrient replenishing from the toxic effects of dx. If life gives you lemons, you make lemonade 😉


    • Monica,
      If you read this any time soon, please get back to me. I have been told to take no supplements while on pero dialysis. Can you give me advice on what you take?


  3. I spent 2 weeks at Club Med Bali before Christmas ’10. Had no problems with my dialysis as my PD dialysate solutions were delivered to the holiday village by the Fresenius.

    That’s the wonder of PD and I’m embarking on a 2-week trip to Hawaii this March……:)


  4. Hi Greg! What an awesome blog… I have been on Home Haemo for 2 years now and prior to being diagnosed with ESRF I used to travel alot. Now on dialysis, I found it somewhat “challenging” to go anywhere outside of Australia. My family and I have done numerous trips around Australia but I was still longing for that overseas trip.

    I found on some Australian dialysis websites and also spoken from some in-centre social workers that they commonly say “it is often difficult but not impossible to travel while on dialysis” and leave it as that. It is quite discouraging to say the least.

    So after 2 years I thought bugger it! I’m not going to listen to people who are going to tell me that the possible is impossible so I took the plunge and searched on the net for a dialysis unit in Dubai. I emailed them, got booked into a unit for 3 sessions, had all the paperwork filled out by my renal nurses and now I’m off to Dubai next week for 8 days. This whole process taking 3 weeks.

    Now I found in organising my holiday the saying “it is often difficult but not impossible to travel while on dialysis” rang true here in Sydney. Some of the nurses you deal with put obsticles in front of you and try to delay the paperwork. I rang my unit and a nurse said to me “I can’t do everything you know!” but a lot of persistence and speaking to the right people in the unit fast tracked my paperwork (even though I had filled out everything, they just had to copy it in their hand-writing and sign off on it).

    So now I’m counting down the days and can’t wait. My wife says she hasn’t seen me so happy in such a long time!

    Will post when I return.


    • Hi Greg. Wow, your Dubai holiday sounds great! You are right about arranging travel. It can be more difficult than it needs to be, especially when your unit staff are the roadblocks. Many BigD members I know travel, some quite often, either as a holiday or with work. One of the people in our unit just got back from a 6 weeks holiday in the UK and Europe, another goes to Germany regularly with work. The fact is your life changes as much as you let it when you join the BigD club. I really don’t know why some staff stress the difficulties while stress the possibilities. I think it says more about them than us.

      I look forward to hearing about Dubai! Regards,


  5. Hi Greg

    I’ve just returned from Dubai (June 2011) and what an experience it was.

    We arrived in Abu Dhabi at midnight and it was a whopping 35 degrees. I must say the heat is different than Sydney. It’s mostly dry and bearable. We spent one night/day in Abu Dhabi and had a tour of the city from a friend of ours who lives there.

    We had lunch at the Hilton on the beach and then went to Emirates Palace. This Palace (which is also a hotel) is amazing. It oozed wealth, from the shine of gold of almost everything you are surrounded by to the diamonds on the main doors. The saying is “if it looks like gold, it most probably is”.

    After that we went to Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque. This is the 3rd largest mosque in the world with the largest single carpet in the world. I have no words to describe this place other that WOW…

    After our tour of the city we caught a taxi to Dubai.
    Dubai is just awesome!!! From our hotel we had the view of the Palm (the man made Palm Island). Just to keep it short some of the places we visited were;

    • The Burj Khalifa – The tallest building in the world
    • Dubai Mall – The biggest mall in the world, 4 levels 1200 plus shops – we spent 10 hours here on our first day and still didn’t get to see everything.
    • Dubai Fountains – These fountains dance with the music, somewhat similar to the Bellagio in Vegas.
    • Kidzania – A fantasy land for kids. A place run by kids and adults cannot enter unless you are accompanied by a child
    • The Gold Souk – A bazaar which obviously sells gold and diamonds. No 9 carat here. The least was 18ct (which was hard to find) since most of it was 22ct. Pretty cheap compared to what you would pay in a jeweller.
    • Atlantis Hotel – This hotel is on the palm. Similar to the one in the Bahamas.
    • Ski Dubai – A ski field inside Mall of the Emirates.

    Now to the BigD sessions…

    I booked into a private clinic in a place called Oud Metha which was around 40kms from where I was staying. I didn’t mind since the taxis were pretty cheap. I cost me about $13 to $15 Australian dollars for a taxi to the hospital.

    Now until you have travelled to other countries on BigD, you don’t realise how lucky we are with our medical system here in Australia. In my opinion, we have the BEST medical in the world. For a BigD session in Dubai it cost me approx US$250. This cost didn’t include blood tests and medicines (ie. Heparin). So all up I paid around US$900 for the 3 sessions. I asked the nurses about if the locals have to pay or is it covered by a ‘Medicare’ system. They seemed baffled… Their reply “what you pay is what they pay. There is no such thing as a medical system here. The dialysis is not free. Everyone regardless if you’re a local or not pays for dialysis treatment”. Some locals get a small (and I mean small) subsidy from their government.

    They majority only dialyze for 3 hours 3 times a week which is probably why they all looked tired and worn. Four hours a session is the most you will get there. Also they don’t use local injection there. They have a local spray which doesn’t work since they don’t give it time to settle. So I had no other choice but to take the pain. It is more of a ‘time is money’ situation there. They pretty much set up your machine, put your needles in (the nurses prefer if they did it instead of yourself) and have you run on all in about 10 minutes.

    The hospital was very clean but some of the nurse’s practices leave you speechless. They jump from room to room wearing the same gloves (I told mine to change hers before she touched anything in my room). They set up the afternoon patient’s tray a few hours before he arrived and left it in the hallway. Visitors were touching his tray as they were walking past. Also the relationship between the nurses and patients are somewhat similar to that of a parent and child. ‘I’m the nurse, I know what I’m doing, and you’re the patient, just lie there and listen which was frustrating for the most part. They ran me onto the machine at between 350 to 400mls/min and wondered why my BP went sky high. I told the nurse that the pump speed was too high and she told me that the pump speed had nothing to do with my BP even though it was normal before I connected. I called in another nurse and asked if she could turn it down to 300 (which she gladly did) and my BP came back to normal and hour later. I just had to understand that different countries have different practices and we here in Australia are spoilt.

    My advice to my fellow BigD friends out there. If you dialyze for 5 hours a session I would recommend when you find a clinic, ask how many hours you will get as most clinics in the Middle East do only 4 hours max so you might want to do an extra session. You really do feel the difference between 4 hours compared to 5 hours. If you’re on home haemo it might pay to ask the clinic if you took your own dialysers would you get a discount since the kidneys cost the most. If you can, ask your doctor for a local anaestetic cream to take with you and put it on an hour before your treatment. That way you won’t have to worry about the needles hurting you. Lastly don’t let any negative experiences affect you while you’re away, after all you are on holiday! Just be cool and enjoy…

    All in all, I had a positive experience in Dubai and if the opportunity presents itself again, I would definitely go back. I was also glad to be back home and see my machine again. Nothing compares to BigD in Australia.


    • Hi Greg,

      But could you please guide me to the site from where you got the details for the dailysis in Dubai.

      My dad is currently undergoing heamodailysis in India for the past 4-5 months with 2 [4 hr] sessions per week. I plan to bring him and my mom over to Dubai for a visit for atleast 2 weeks.

      Since i do not want his health to get affected, i need to find out the hospital\clinic from where i can continue his treatment for the said duration.

      Also could you please let us know how many AED were you charged per dailysis session.


  6. I was very pleased to uncover this website. I want to to thank you for your time for this fantastic read!! I definitely appreciated every bit of it and i also have you saved to fav to look at new information in your blog.


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