Living with dialysis treatments

Rijnstate Dialysis Center is one of the largest treatment centers in the Netherlands for patients with failing kidneys or kidneys that no longer work. Jenny van den Belt-Bakker, nurse and “Biking” Project Lead, told us how this treatment works and the value Bike Labyrinth adds to their center.

Dialysis treatments are a big deal. The truth is that patients are basically always running a marathon. On day one, you undergo your dialysis treatment, a four-hour process that filters and cleans the blood. Day two involves serious recovery time, and occasionally you may need to sleep through the whole day. By the end of the day, you start to feel more like yourself again, only to start all over again on day three. And that’s how it goes; for some, that includes up to four treatments a week. The patients are top athletes without even realizing it. The treatments can last years and put life on hold. Going to work is tricky, and your social circle and world start to shrink. A logical consequence is that patients hardly do anything outside of their treatment. Obviously, that has an effect on the body, but it also affects their mental health.

Rijnstate dialyse.jpg

Jenny is always on the lookout for new challenges and innovations to give patients energy and keep them happy. She told us how Bike Labyrinth doesn’t just affect physical health; it also influences patients’ social lives:

Where people used to sit next to each other as virtual strangers, now, patients have started talking to each other, asking where they used to live, where they moved, and where they've been on vacation.

Jenny, Rijnstate Dialysis Center Nurse and “Biking” Project Lead

Bike Labyrinth makes time spent at the center more enjoyable and helps expand their world. In Jenny's opinion, Bike Labyrinth’s “experience factor” is high. “It’s so much more than just a bike route. Bike Labyrinth isn't just for seniors; it's for the sick and folks looking for a distraction or who want to see more of the world too. One of our patients is crazy about Asia and their top choice is to bike a route through China or Japan every day. Then he takes a snapshot for his wife to show where he's headed next.”

For many, dialysis treatment is a protracted process that involved years of waiting for a potential transplant. But sometimes, patients can no longer be treated and/or stop treatment. And that means the patient has to close their chapter on life. Because patients frequently visit for a long time, several times a week, they get to know the Rijnstate team really well. That makes these moments heart-wrenching. “I always remember having to say goodbye to people who quite dialysis with crystal clarity. I'm reminded of a patient from Arnhem, in particular. What he wanted most was to see his hometown one last time. Sadly, though, he was too weak to make the trip. But by having a colleague cycle on Bike Labyrinth, he got to bike through Arnhem one last time and say goodbye. That’s incredible, right? All it takes for you to make a truly meaningful difference during someone's last stage of life is just a simple screen. So many memories are brought back to life, and that’s what makes it so incredible.”

Fortunately, many patients do qualify for a transplant. After a transplant, kidney function is frequently up by 50%, which means dialysis is no longer necessary. Right away, they usually start planning trips to far away locations. And they’ve already got plenty of inspiration, thanks to all the bike routes on Bike Labyrinth.

Do you also have great stories about clients, residents, or patients from your work? We’d love to hear them. Please contact us at

Want to know more about Rijnstate or dialysis? Visit or check out their Facebook page.