Think about your last vacation. Where and why were you going? Perhaps it was a romantic or fun get-away to the beach to relax in the sun, enjoying margaritas by the pool-side; a trip to the snowy mountains for endless skiing or snowboarding with hot chocolate (or cold beers) at the end of each day; or a new and exotic country experiencing the culture, taking pictures of the well-known sites, and attempting to speak the local language. But can you also remember planning that vacation?
As I mentioned in my most recent post, Eamonn and I have yet to go on a “real” vacation. Our trips together have consisted of driving from New Jersey to Chicago, or vise-versa, lasting up to two days, learning that some topics are hot topics that create arguments so they can never be discussed again. A weekend in the dunes of Michigan, which was beautiful, but short-lived as we had a friend’s wedding to get to. An extended weekend in Galveston, Texas with Eamonn’s parents, of which the purpose was to meet the CF lung transplant team. And as much as I love my parents-in-law, I’d like to think that we could handle a vacation sans parents! In fairness, however, we stayed at a great hotel with a swim-up bar and hot-tub which we enjoyed in the evenings, and have mom and dad Kelly to thank for one of our favorite get-aways together!
Before you start judging me and thinking, but wasn’t she just in South Africa less than a year ago, or wasn’t her first trip to Israel when she was only 5 years old, and didn’t I back-pack with her through Europe before studying abroad? Yes, and I am well aware of how fortunate I have been, but that is not what I am writing about. All of my trips, near and far, have been absolutely incredible experiences, bringing me closer to friends and family who I traveled with, opening my eyes to new cultures and parts of the world, but none of them were with Eamonn. And now we finally have a great reason to travel together and enjoy a vacation together for longer than 4 days- we got married in November and would like to go on a honeymoon!
For those of you who have planned a trip, I don’t have to tell you that it’s a lot of work. There are important logistics and details to work out — finding the lowest airfare and hotel rates, requesting time-off from work and hoping it is approved, researching the best restaurants or food experiences, planning daily activities, getting necessary vaccinations, making sure you have the appropriate clothes to pack, notifying your bank that you will be traveling (though no matter what you do it’s likely they will still cut you off from your money) and much more. In the end it’s all worth it but it takes time and effort to plan a perfect vacation. Eamonn recently got cleared, by his lung transplant team of doctors, to travel just about anywhere he wants to go, so long as we give them notice, of course. This was great news because it meant we didn’t have to feel so “chained down” and as if we were breaking the rules if we wanted to live our lives without so many limitations. So, naturally, we start planning our honeymoon, our first vacation together.
With the world map laid out in front of us, there were so many logistics to consider before making a decision on our destination, on top of the normal checklist of tasks. We first had to know if Eamonn had a limitation on how long he could be on a plane with the oxygen concentrator. Answer: however long the batteries last. Then we had to know how long we could rent the oxygen concentrator. Answer: as long as you want to pay for it. Next we had to ask the company from which the concentrator is rented if it can be taken out of the country. Answer: yes. Finally we had to know if all of Eamonn’s medical machines can operate on foreign electrical systems. Answer: yes, but we have to be sure to rent the correct concentrator because they cannot all handle the voltage of foreign systems.
Are you tired of planning our vacation yet? I sure am.
So where does this leave us? We still have the world map laid out in front of us and we’ve started marking our top choices. Brazil (a dream get-away particularly for Eamonn) has an ideal balance of beaches and sites to explore, giving us the experience to enjoy a new culture while also having time to relax. The Seychelles Islands has an overabundant option of water and beach activities, and with various islands to visit we would never get bored! Jamaica’s culture and beaches also intrigue us, again allowing us to explore the country while enjoying the scenic beauty we have heard so much about. But do these places have adequate medical care? They may have the right outlets for the machines, but do they have the doctors for Eamonn in case there’s an emergency?
Turns out, Brazil does have several CF clinics. Yet, the weather is so humid in summer months (Eamonn’s teacher vacation, and therefore when we have to go), Eamonn would likely have trouble breathing. We didn’t even think of that!
The Seychelles doesn’t have great medical care and certainly no CF specialists. Same goes for Jamaica.
And so we’re back to the map.
With all this planning and so many details to consider, we’re beginning to think that a vacation with our parents isn’t so bad if we can outsource the planning to them too! I’m only kidding (please don’t get any ideas Kelly’s or Alfred’s), but this process has been far more exhausting than I would have ever assumed.
The irony is that people who are sick, or deal with heavy life challenges, truly need vacations– an escape from reality, a time to relax, a fresh perspective—but are already consumed with so many daily tasks that it becomes a burden to plan for something extra. Eamonn and I might not get to go to one of our top honeymoon destinations, but we’ll still have the best vacation ever! And I am sure that wherever we are, we will not be thinking of the hassle of planning, but where we will go to next.