By Carla Schick
Ah, the sounds of summer! Frogs ribbiting, the “Ice Cream Man” song tinkling in the distance, crickets chirping, squeaky crutches…. Crutches! What in the world do crutches have to do with the cheerful sounds of summer? Well, I’ll tell you. My mom has been suffering from chronic pain in her right foot for 17 years due to four surgeries for nerve entrapment. After her fourth and final surgery, our family decided to load up the car and make a beeline for sunny Arizona to enjoy a much-needed summer vacation. Since she was still recovering, my mom spent the trip hobbling along on a pair of squeaky crutches. So there we were, the three of us: me, my dad and my mom, who at the time we fondly called hop-along, (when you’re on crutches, the nickname comes with the territory) taking in the sights: Tombstone, Bisbee, Tucson and, of course, the Grand Canyon, one squeaky step at a time.
Taking a vacation with a family member who has recently undergone surgery can be trying, especially on the patient, but this situation is minor in comparison to the life-threatening circumstances that face many in the immune globulin (IG) community. For readers with common variable immune deficiency (CVID), X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA), chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) or any number of the other immune-medicated conditions, a vacation for you is a larger production than simply packing crutches, some pain killers and a pair of comfortable walking shoes.
Here are a few summer traveling tips for families in the IG community:
Take along a canister (or two) of Lysol wipes. When you arrive at your accommodations, wipe down door handles, TV controls, telephones, cabinet handles, the bathroom sink and pretty much anything else your hands might touch.
Leave your medical prescriptions in their original containers. It may be a more cumbersome way to travel, but it’s also the smart way to travel. In case of an emergency, it’s a good idea to have those original containers to give to the medical staff.
If you travel with IG products, keep the bottles in a cooler with an ice pack. Summer travel means your IG product could accidentally overheat, especially if left in the car. So keep the bottles safe by storing them in a temperature-controlled environment, like a cooler with an ice pack. Since you don’t want your IG bottles to freeze, wrap them in a dish towel or washcloth so they don’t come in direct contact with the ice pack.
FedEx your medical supplies to your U.S. destination. Sending your medical supplies by FedEx is a great way to cut down on the amount of luggage you carry, it prevents your supplies from being damaged and it also avoids accidental loss.
If you’ll need a wheelchair, call your destination ahead of time to see if they can accommodate you with one. Destinations like the various Disneyland hotels in Southern California have wheelchairs that their guests can rent for a minimal fee each day. This is also another fantastic way to keep travel gear to a minimum.
So how about you? Do you have any summer travel tips you can share? How do you keep your family safe when traveling away from home?
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