September 22, 2018 - Posted by Greg Collette
Here is a very welcome Guest post from Connie, who recently returned from the dialysis holiday of her life.
Connie: I have been asked to write a short description of my recent Cruise Holiday.
Wow where to start?
First, after a year of researching, dreaming, negotiating and planning, my family and I (all six of us!) settled on a cruise (with dialysis on board) from Honolulu to Vancouver over 12 nights visiting many islands on the way. That was topped and tailed by two days in Hawaii and four days in Canada. See Louise’s post (my daughter and carer) for details.
First, we flew from Melbourne to Honolulu, with a two-day stay and one dialysis run at “Liberty Dialysis”. The staff were very welcoming even giving me a gift of a neck pillow for my continued travels.
There, our stay included a stroll around Diamond Head Crater (an extinct volcano), a visit to Pearl Harbour and Waikiki Beach, made famous during the 1960’s with many movies made on the beach and surf.
From here we boarded the Celebrity Solstice. This was going to be home base for the next 12 nights. Dialysis was every 2nd morning, this was by courtesy of: ”Dialysis at Sea” an American company based in Florida. The machines used were “Fresenius” and the staff were well experienced and friendly. My runs were at 5am x 4hrs, leaving me the better part of the day for exploring or resting.
There were several island stops where we were able to explore, like Lahaina where the girls and I enjoyed a helicopter flight over a dormant volcano while the boys played golf on the island.
There was also an Atlantis submarine voyage to a sunken ship and close encounters with deep sea life. Our tender boat ride to the port of Kailua Kona was quite a sight as dolphins joined us for the 20-minute journey, entertaining us with their circus-like antics.
We must not forget Hilo where we were when its volcano, Kilauea, came to life and is still quite active. Our captain made a very quick retreat as soon as all passengers were on board. That night from the safety of the sea we watched the coastline as lava spilled from the volcano.
From here we had five days at sea, where we blinked and they were gone because there was much to do on board, live entertainment, movies indoor or out, glass blowing, art auctions, trivia, shopping, the list is endless.
On Day 12 we arrived at Victoria (British Columbia), very pretty with many beautiful gardens and Melbourne-like weather (yes, the skies opened up and we got drenched). Next morning was Vancouver where we embarked. Here a driver and car took us up the sea-sky highway for a panoramic drive into the mountains, followed by a helicopter flight over the glaciers, here we landed and stepped out onto the glacier. A brief stop a Whistler for lunch on the way back and a quick glimpse of the city skyline from Stanley Park wrapped up the full on day.
A dialysis run at St Pauls Hospital (part of Providence Health Care Vancouver), where they accept international patients, again all staff were very friendly and welcoming. We had an afternoon flight from Vancouver to Toronto and a drive to Niagara Falls.
This was our last stopover where we saw the falls from many angles (yes we got pretty wet!). The falls were amazing both day and night. At last minute change of plan had me dialyse at St Catharines Hospital in Niagara.
A quick jaunt for some outlet shopping and back to Toronto to make our way home via Hong Kong where my family stayed on for a few more days, as Vince and I came back to Melbourne.
Overall dialysis units were similar but different – sizes, machines and ancillary services (such as meals, entertainment). No two units were the same.
There were a few hurdles to overcome such as language terminology used by local nurses and international patients. One was that nurses said they are going to “stick you” instead of “needling you”.
Some units would not allow food or drink while dialysing. But on the other hand all unit staff were very experienced and very accommodating to travellers, and some went out of their way to help.
It is wise to have some understanding of your needs when dialysing and having some idea of blood flows and pressures.
Also be flexible while travelling: don’t allow small hiccups to become big mountains.
Most importantly I must acknowledge the staff at Diamond Valley and my family for all their efforts, patience and encouragement it took to organize this holiday. Without them it would not have happened and I would have lacked the confidence to see it through.
Would I recommend planning your own holiday? ABSOLUTELY!!!
And yes I would like to do it again.
Hoping this encourages more patients to be adventurous.
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