As I mentioned in an earlier post, we took the girls away for a couple of days to celebrate our daughter’s graduation and surviving the last year. It was our first overnight trip since Keith started Peritoneal Dialysis (PD). I was a bit of a nervous wreck about it. I’m proud to say all the stress and anxiety was worth it! We had a great time, and I don’t think things could have gone any better from the PD side. If you’re a PD patient or has a family member who is, I would love to hear from you about your experiences.
We chose Hershey, PA because it was far enough away from home to get us away from our day-to-day, but close enough to get home fairly quickly if things went south. We could have saved money by staying somewhere else but decided to stay at Hershey Lodge for several reasons. The two biggest are because we got a great deal and because they had a free shuttle running to and from the park all day. We reasoned that if Keith got over-tired or had a problem I could get him back to the hotel and the girls could stay at the park and enjoy themselves. I’m happy to report that the only time we needed to take the shuttle was over to the park in the morning and returning that evening.
When I booked the package I mentioned that my husband is PD patient and that we would need to do dialysis in the room. This was the first of several times I mentioned. I talked about it the first time when I ensured that we would have a refrigerator in the room. I also asked if there was anything they needed to know in advance to make sure that there wouldn’t be any problems. I believe that it’s better to be safe than sorry – so mentioning it as often as I did would have allowed me to deal with any issues as soon as they came up. And, if there was an issue later I could say, “But I spoke to SO-and-SO.” Maybe it’s overkill, but I like to have as many bases covered as possible.
My biggest fear was forgetting something. I started packing Keith’s PD supplies days ahead of time so I could check and recheck that I had everything. His dialysis team gave us an alternative dialysis schedule for the day at the park so we only had to do two exchanges instead of three, which means I didn’t need to pack as much solution. I used one of larger suitcases (thankfully with wheels) and loaded it with six bags of solution that easily weighed between 20 and 30 pounds – pulling it in a suitcase was much better than trying to carry the boxes into a hotel. That pretty much filled the bag but I was also able to squeeze in the warming pad, BP cuff, thermometer. I also filled a gallon zip lock bag with all of the gloves, masks, caps, band-aids and medical tape we’d need, and a few extra for good measure. His diabetes supplies either went in our little cooler or in the “miscellaneous” bag which held everything from the extra large bottle of hand sanitizer to medicine to sunscreen and of course extra phone chargers (can’t leave home without them).
The drive to Hershey went well, we got caught in traffic in Harrisburg, but everyone did just fine (Kayleigh even drove through tunnels for the first time with no issues). When we got to Hershey Lodge we decided to let the nice guys at the doors help with getting everything out of the car. It took both Kayleigh and me to lift the PD into the car (we packed light and only took one large bag for clothes, but it was packed tight). I figured that the strapping young man standing beside the car could probably do what it Kayleigh and I to do without even breaking a sweat. I was right.
When I checked in I again mentioned that my husband was a dialysis patient. I also told the valet it was the reason I needed to park the car someplace close to our room and where I could get to it in an emergency. Later that night I saw a cleaning guy in the hall and asked for a large garbage bag for my husband’s medical supplies. No one I talked to seemed overly concerned, other than to make sure that we had what we needed.
Once we were in the room I set up to do his afternoon exchange. At home, we have an IV pole to hang the dialysis solution on, but the pole doesn’t travel well. Fortunately, there was a lamp I could use a wire hanger I brought with me to hang the bag from. I used the space on top of the air conditioner for all the other supplies (antibacterial hand gel, gloves, masks, caps, etc.). It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.
One of my big concerns was what would happen when/if housekeeping came in. When we do everything right we can put everything in the regular garbage without any issues. But I could only imagine what someone would think if they came into medical gloves and masks and empty dialysis bags in the garbage. Maybe I’m just paranoid. Just to be safe, I put everything from each exchange into a plastic shopping bag, tied it shut, and put it in a bigger bag (which I tied shut before we checked out). We also put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door so they wouldn’t come in while we were in the park. I had visions of someone deciding there was a major bio hazard in the room and it causing …. issues …. so I did what I could to make sure that didn’t happen.
Before the trip, we talked to his PD Care Team about what we should do the day we were in the park. Because they changed his exchanges for that day we could spend the whole day at the park. The compromise with the exchanges was that he had to walk at least part of the time we were at the park. He rode in the motorized cart most of the time but did hike up the ramps to the rides. If you’re traveling with someone who has mobility issues having a motorized cart is a must. I just wish they were less expensive to rent. We’ve talked about buying one (I think we can get one through one of the programs he’s enrolled in), but the issue would be getting it in and out of the car (none of us are really strong enough to get it in and out of the car).
Overall it was a great trip. It also proved that we can go away as a family while Keith is doing PD. Everyone at The Hershey Lodge, Hershey Park, and Chocolate World was great! The young man who helped us get on and off the ride in Chocolate World was awesome – he made sure we were safe and having a great experience. He even made sure that Keith got sugar free treats at the end!
I recommend Hershey to any PD patient and their family for a place to visit!