Friday, March 25, 2016

Travels with Herkimer

*Herkimer is my pet name for my POC (Portable Oxygen Concentrator)

Ok. The countdown has begun. In less than a week, my DH and I will embark on the voyage of our lives! We're flying to San Diego where we'll board Holland America's Westerdam for a 30 day cruise to Hawaii and the islands of the South Pacific.

I'm still pinching myself. 

We've always been enthusiastic travelers. Our kids had passports from the time they were 8 and 6 years old. Since my husband was a travel industry IT guy, we managed to make lots of trips we couldn't have otherwise afforded using flight benefits and tag-along business trips. But now the kids are grown and my hubby is retired. Our adventures can be just about us now.

Well, us and all the medical equipment I have to lug around in order to function.

Cruise ships and airlines make every effort to accommodate guests with special needs, but they require advance notice. Months ago, I had to submit my request to carry Herkimer on. Oxygen tanks are not allowed on airplanes, but my POC is FAA approved and I can use it during our flights. This is a good thing since a pressurized cabin is like being at 8000 ft above sea level. At that elevation, I seriously need an extra puff of O2 to maintain good sats. When I arrive at the airport, I'll need to produce my prescription for the device, evidence that I'm carrying 1 1/2 times more battery life than I'll need to complete my travel and permission from Oxygen To Go (the agency that vets FAA approved devices) in order to board.

The upside is that I'll probably be shuffled into a wheel chair and my DH and I will hop to the front of the security line. 

Last year, Herkimer died on me without warning and I went without supplemental O2 for a couple of days while waiting for his replacement. Not fun, but at least  I was at home when it happened. I crept about the house with all the vim and vigor of a 3 toed sloth. I didn't want to find myself bobbing around in the Pacific in that condition, so we splurged and bought a back up unit. I'll be traveling with 2 Herkimers--one in his rolling cart and one in my carry-on bag. 

Also in the bag, which measures the required 20X14X9 inches, I've packed my bi-pap machine (whom I lovingly call Morpheus!) which gets me through the night, all its tubing and plugs, extra batteries, charger and electric cables, extra cannulas, my prescription meds (for 30 days, let me tell you that's a prodigious amount of pills!), a pair of jammies, 2 changes of undies, and socks. My toothbrush, make-up and other toiletries will have to travel in my DH's carry on.   

I used to say there were two classes of travel: First Class and With Children. Now I'll add a third: With Medical Equipment

But it's all good. Once we unpack on the ship, it'll be like being at home. Holland America has already promised to have distilled water waiting for me in our cabin to use in Morpheus. Only getting to the pier from the Midwest with all our stuff in tow will be a challenge.

These devices, which some might think would weigh me down, actually give me freedom. I'm so thankful to be living now when my lung condition can be stabilized with drugs, when, between Herkimer and Morpheus, I have high enough O2 sats to feel like having a few adventures.

And I'm beyond grateful to celebrate 40 years of marriage with my Dear Husband on this exciting trip.

If you'd like to armchair travel with me, please visit The Coldwater Gazette, my author blog, and sign up to follow it by email. You'll find the form for you to type in your email in the right-hand column under my picture. I'll be posting photos, sharing our experiences, and wishing you were here.

Hope to see you there! 

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