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Living life to the fullest with dialysis

Alain Lempereur has been a dialysis patient for almost ten years at the NephroCare Maubeuge clinic in France. In this article, he tells us about his travels and numerous activities.

I was born on 31 December 1939 and am now retired. As a manager in the steel industry, my job involved setting up training for and the certification of operators, technicians and engineers for non-destructive checks. It was a trouble-free life, both professionally and personally, until…

I was looking forward to my retirement at the age of 68 when I found myself face-to-face with my first health problems. I had to realise that no, they don’t just happen to others… I went to my appointment with the nephrologist who is still treating me today. As I considered the life-altering diagnosis, I wondered what to do next... I was abruptly confronted with the reality of being human and with the problems inherent to this situation. There were many issues: physical activities, travel, leisure, family.

I underwent peritoneal dialysis from 2009 to 2011. This dialysis did not stop me from travelling around France to various cities and regions: several times, I went to the Auvergne, to Corsica, Toulouse, Saint Cyprien, Haute-Savoie. I travelled during three summers. To do that, you have to order the bags of dialysis fluid in advance, and they are shipped to a requested address within a specified time. Before leaving, you have to check that the bags have arrived at the place where you’re spending your holiday.

The joy of travelling – by planning ahead

Since 2011, I have been on haemodialysis at my home centre and on auto-dialysis at other centres when travelling with my family, with tour groups and on holidays, including extended stays in Samoëns and Beaulieu sur Mer... Every year, I spend five months travelling. To be able to do that, I have to book the dialysis centres well in advance, especially during the Christmas and New Year’s season and also during school holidays. My nephrologist issues permission and submits a very complete medical file. I have used various means of transport: car, plane, coach, ferry, canal boat. I am always careful because accidents, such as surprise strikes, unexpected breakdowns of an aircraft, cable car, lift, etc. can happen. I have travelled as a tourist, staying mainly in hotels, and I have never encountered any serious problems.

With regard to meals, anything is possible, provided you respect your diet and ask for changes to the menu, if necessary and also give your reasons why. You need to take control of your physical activity and not try to overdo it. I like walking outdoors; I swim with my fistula protected by roll dressing, a transparent adhesive film.

When I’m not travelling, I spend my time doing social activities and things to stimulate my mind. In 2016, after 16 years in public investigations as a commissioner and federal investigator for the administrative court of Lille, I decided to stop. I am also involved in a service club where I look after ethical matters as the president of the social action committee. As a member of the board, I am committed to “L’Enfant Bleu,” a charity combatting child abuse. Last but not least, I am actively engaged as a member of the users’ committee for my clinic, NephroCare Maubeuge.

When asked to write about “dialysis not being a prison,” I agreed to be involved in this project because of my experience as a patient. I want to provide significant help and moral support and show patients suffering from this chronic illness that we can enjoy a high quality of life, despite dialysis. I am deeply grateful for the team at the dialysis centre. Doctors, healthcare professionals, nurses, auxiliary staff and secretaries all give me confidence and comfort, working to ensure that quality meets standards. I want to express my particular thanks to my wife, who also helps to ensure my well-being as part of our little family.

I have related my personal experience, which I see as nothing special. Let’s make sure to keep our bodies and minds as active as possible. Just get moving. It’s worth it!

Alain Lempereur, haemodialysis patient at NephroCare Maubeuge, France

Thank you, Alain, for sharing your story with us. Enjoy your travels!