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.
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).
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.