Work and travel on dialysis

Part of the series “All about dialysis”

Will I have to quit work when I start dialysis?

No. You should not have to quit work when you start dialysis. Keeping your job provides benefits including income, health insurance, self-esteem and friendships. Working on dialysis tends to pose two related challenges. The first challenge is scheduling your job, dialysis and the rest of your life so they don’t conflict. The second challenge can be figuring out which dialysis modality is best when you want to work but must be on dialysis.

Image: Work and travel on dialysisIf you choose in-center hemodialysis, talk with your nurse or social worker about scheduling your treatments so you miss as little work as possible. If you want more freedom in your dialysis schedule, you may ask if home dialysis is available in your area. You will need to consult with your doctor to determine if a home modality is right for you.

Choosing peritoneal dialysis or home hemodialysis, which are both types of home dialysis, may make it easier to work regular hours and perform dialysis. If you perform peritoneal dialysis and use an automated cycler at night while you sleep, you will be free of dialysis during the day. If you choose to do manual exchanges, you might need a half-hour break and a clean room to do an exchange during the work day.

Many people successfully work and get dialysis treatments. Upon starting dialysis, you may need a few weeks or months to adjust to dialysis, and then a period of working part-time before you get back up to speed. When you are ready, you can return to work full-time.

Can I travel on dialysis?

Yes. With proper planning, you can travel while on dialysis. Start small — with day trips and quick weekend getaways. Then you can build up confidence and work up to longer vacations.

If you are on hemodialysis, you can reserve a space at a center where you will be traveling. To find a center, use resources like DaVita’s dialysis center locator. You can also call DaVita Guest Services at 1-800-244-0680 from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PT).

Vacation planning on dialysis

Get away for awhile, visit friends and relatives or discover exciting destinations across the U.S. DaVita Guest Services can help you locate a dialysis facility where you'll be staying. Visit the DaVita Guest Services Travel Section or call 1-800-244-0680 to arrange for dialysis while you travel. Your social worker can also help you arrange for dialysis treatment at a facility in the areas you will be staying.

It’s best to make travel arrangements at least two months ahead of time, if possible, even earlier for popular destinations such as Florida and Las Vegas or at heavy travel times such as the holidays. Special trips, including cruises with a dialysis medical team onboard, are also available for people on dialysis.

Your center can forward a copy of your dialysis prescription and other records to the center you will visit. It is also a good idea to carry a copy of your medical information with you and to call ahead to be sure the center you will be visiting has all the information they need. Call to confirm your appointment when you arrive at your destination.

If you have Medicare and travel in the United States, Medicare will pay its usual portion of your hemodialysis costs. Private insurance will also generally pay for dialysis treatments you receive away from home. Some plans will even pay for overseas treatments. The exception is managed care, which may not pay for treatments outside of your home area. However, if you have managed care and Medicare, your travel dialysis center can charge Medicare for 80% of the treatment cost, leaving you with a much smaller bill. Check with your insurance provider to find out details of what is covered when you travel.

If you do peritoneal dialysis, you can take your supplies with you, or have them shipped to your destination. If you are on Medicare and are traveling outside the United States, Medicare may not cover the cost of the solution. Check with your PD nurse. Call before you leave home to be sure that your supplies have arrived. Your PD nurse can help you learn safe ways to do your exchanges while camping or taking a driving trip.

With resourcefulness and determination, you can travel on dialysis.

Summary

Just because you are on dialysis does not mean you have to cut out important activities such as work and travel. To many people, whether on dialysis or not, work is a great outlet to feel like an important provider and contributor to society. Travel is also an excellent way to get out and break up a weekend, visit friends and relatives far away or experience new adventures. Both work and travel do not have to be hindered if you are on dialysis. Talk to your doctor about your lifestyle and choose a dialysis modality that helps you live your life to the fullest.

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