Dialysis: time for you, time for your hobbies

Michal Stýblo is a regular at Fresenius NephroCare v Chrudimi in the Czech Republic

He was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of eleven. After 40 years of living with chronic kidney disease, he entered peritoneal dialysis in 2013 but went on haemodialysis after a year due to complications. During that first time, he was booked on the afternoon shift while still working part-time. As his employing company closed down a couple of years ago, he now receives an invalidity pension.

Michal appreciates the support of his family. “Even if going on dialysis was a shock for the family at first, it all worked out after a couple of weeks, and we now take it as a fact,” he remembers. He enjoys cooking with his wife. Depending on his current nutritional laboratory results, they compile wholesome ingredients for cooking together.

Leisure and hobbies

Michal currently uses the morning shift for dialysis to have the rest of the day for himself. This suits him fine as he can fully devote the time to his hobbies. One of these hobbies is instantly recognisable on visiting him at home. The first thing you notice in the living room is a huge telescope. With it, Michal not only observes the night sky, he also takes pictures when the camera is connected. He views the sky either from his balcony or from a nearby garden. The hobby astronomer is a member of the Astronomical Forum, where the members share pictures and astronomy-related topics. They are even planning an observation visit with a fellow-patient he met on dialysis.

Another part of the Stýblo family’s home is taken by three large aquariums where colourful fishes swarm. Obviously, Michal takes good care of the fish, as well as of dachshund Chucky.

Dialysis time

When Michal is on his dialysis appointments, he happily uses the time to get a bit of work done on his third big hobby. He is passionate about preparing audiobooks for an online portal. The motto of the Knihovna Do ucha Portal is “we read for those who do not see” (www.do-ucha.cz). Volunteers read books for people with visual impairment, and Michal’s task is the creation of sound effects for the recordings. He has even developed quite sophisticated techniques to make the most of his time on the machine. “It is not enough to just upload a book,” he explains. “Ambient sound such as wind, sea noise and music give dramatic zest to the stories. I carry my tablet with me to dialysis, and I’m connected via Wi-Fi to the internet. This allows
me to listen to the spoken text via my headphones and add sound effects.” Uploading all the sounds for one book takes 60 to 70 hours. His biggest project so far, and one which he hugely enjoyed, was Thomas H. Blok’s novel Mayday. The audiobook being handled by a team of twenty people, the whole project lasted about one year. His favourites, however, are the books by Jules Verne which he adores. He made the sound for eight books, so far, and is now working on the ninth.

“I have a nice feeling that I’m doing something good for people who cannot read the book themselves. Through my work, they
can listen to it,” Michal describes his attraction to the work. He also appeals to his fellow patients: “Everybody can join the volunteers! Try listening to any of the books. If you do not fully understand your computer, your kids or grandchildren will surely be happy to advise you how to do it with a few clicks. You may want to spend more time on dialysis!”

Thank you, Michal, for sharing your experience and inspiration on how to spend time on dialysis. Have fun with many more recorded books!