A few months ago I wrote a post about the difficulties that Eamonn and I were having in choosing a honeymoon destination given his health concerns and realities. We had considered a number of options, which were, for the most part, not conducive to the restrictions we had because of CF and the limitations that meant for travel. One of the places I included was Brazil, a dream vacation particularly for Eamonn. In Brazil’s summer months, our winter, the weather is hot and humid making it difficult to breathe, which is obviously not an option for Eamonn. However, we decided to take our vacation during our summer making it Brazil’s winter. So I am very happy to update you all and tell you, in case you haven’t guessed by now, that tomorrow Eamonn and I leave for our honeymoon to Brazil!
We will be traveling for two weeks visiting Rio De Janeiro, Paraty, Salvador and Praia Do Forte—enjoy figuring out the pronunciation! After almost five years of being together, nine months of which we have been married, we are finally getting to go on a dream vacation that I don’t think either one of us imagined we would get to do considering the changes of the past couple years. We have had many conversations about this trip, as you can imagine, and most of them include the topic of how lucky we are to have this kind of opportunity. Together we have a couple years full of many ups and downs and I will be blunt in saying that we deserve a vacation. And going to Brazil, a place that Eamonn has talked about visiting since I met him five years ago is literally a dream come true for both of us.
Now, with all this said, to get to this point has been a lot of work. As I said in my previous post, planning a vacation is not easy and it involves many details. Planning a vacation for someone with serious health considerations is a whole other story. We booked our trip about 2-3 months ago and since then have been planning for it. But we still don’t know all of the sites we want to see, where the best restaurants are, or what types of daily activities we should be doing. The planning that we have been doing has mostly revolved around being absolutely sure that Eamonn has every detail of medical-related business taken care of, planned for, and, should anything at all happen while in Brazil, knowing how to react (and yes, we have our hotels, transportation, and flights all set as well). I have always trusted Eamonn and have pure confidence that he knows best how to take care of himself, but if I ever needed affirmation of that, planning this trip has certainly proven it. He has done a remarkable job in being sure that every small detail for him to stay healthy on this trip is taken care of. He has been extremely organized and efficient, all while staying calm and seemingly unstressed.
Before this trip I had almost no idea of the hassle that this type of vacation would be for someone with cystic fibrosis, or any other disease, so I wanted to give everyone an idea of what Eamonn has been doing over the past 2-3 months. Here are the details in Eamonn’s own words:
Before doing any planning, I had to discuss our travel plans with both my regular pulmonologist and my transplant team to see if they would approve. Once we got the green light from them, the real work began.
First, I had to check the voltage of Brazil’s electrical outlets. If my machines were incompatible, the trip would be much less doable. I needed to get a different air compressor machine for taking inhaled medications, as my normal one is only meant for our voltage range. This simple step actually took a few months and the combined effort of my doctors and me. I also had to find out what type of electrical outlets are used in Brazil and get adapters so that all this machinery will work.
Next, I had to get contact information for CF doctors in Brazil in case of an emergency. While this part only required sending an email on my part and following up, this task actually took my doctor a few months to finalize.
Patients on oxygen are required to use an oxygen concentrator, which is safer than bringing oxygen tanks on an airplane. However, as these devices are relatively new and expensive, my oxygen supply company does not carry them, requiring me to arrange rental with a third party. In order to bring the oxygen concentrator on an international flight, I had to ask our travel agent to speak with the airline to find out what the procedure is, then contact the airline myself to get directions to access the necessary paperwork, which both I and my doctor had to fill out, and which then had to be scanned and sent to the airline.
To go through customs, I needed to make sure I have hard copies of all my prescriptions, which required a bit of calling and following up with nurses at the CF clinic. I also had to inventory all my medications and refill any necessary to ensure an adequate supply for our trip. Additionally, I had to fill new prescriptions for antibiotics to take with me in case I get sick.
Many of these arrangements require an endless succession of phone calls, emails and follow-ups with doctors, nurses, insurance companies and medical suppliers. Over the course of several months I have spent countless hours making these arrangements in addition to the normal work that goes into planning an international trip. But tomorrow, it will all pay off!
We are finally ready and almost packed for our first vacation together! No matter where we decided to go on our honeymoon it would be the best vacation of our lives, but I am ecstatic and honored that I will be with Eamonn as he lives his dream vacation!