While travel can be relaxing, enjoyable, fun, important for personal growth, reduce stress, and improve a person's overall quality of life, it can present a set of unique challenges for those with Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients. When suffering from Kidney Complications low energy, anxiety, fears of missing important health-related calls, and concerns about Dialysis Treatment errors make even short distance travel for minor periods of time feel impossible or extremely hectic. Over time, traveling even to see loved ones, falls lower on the priority list and the idea of making it outside of the city in which a patient resides seems unlikely. However, try the following tips to make travel a bit smoother and less complicated in order to see loved ones, enjoy time away with family and friends, and regain some of your freedom and independence:
1.) Pack Extra Medications: While most patients pack all of their prescribed medications they sometimes do not realize that they should take back-up medication as well. After all, what happens if your bag is lost or stolen and you cannot get it for a day or two? You want to make sure that you have carried enough meds to be covered for at least 48 hours. Since Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients require several medications, you may consider packing two separate week-long pillboxes and place them in two different luggage in case one is lost or stolen. If you are flying, then you can put one pill box in a carry-on bag and have a note from your Nephrologist for any medications that do not easily meet TSA requirements so you can avoid issues at security.
2.) Bring All Items You Regularly Take To Dialysis: If you are taking Dialysis Treatment at a new center then take all of your same pillows, blankets, books, snacks, and other items that you take to your usual center. Sometimes patients just leave all of their regular Dialysis items at home when they travel. However, bringing along your usual Dialysis Accessories can allow patients to feel like they are not breaking their routines - which is very important for patients to avoid anxiety and worry. Also, do not go to sleep if you are at a new center. The Patient Care Technicians are not familiar with your Dialysis Access or how you like to take your Dialysis. Thus, you may need to correct them or at least monitor to make sure that treatment goes as smoothly as possible.
3.) Look At The Dialysis Center Rating System: If you are traveling and will be taking Dialysis at a different center, then look at the Dialysis Facility Rating System (click here) to review which centers in the area are rated highly. Choose only among the highest rated centers. If all centers are poorly rated, then consider another travel destination, even if it means that family or friends have to drive a bit to see you. It is better that they drive and see you at your best - given your circumstance - then you be close by and have an otherwise avoidable issue during treatment.
4.) Take Your Time: If you know spending the day sightseeing is going to really take a lot out of you, you are likely not going to be able to have enough energy to go window shopping afterward. Take your time to recover and not have to rush from one activity to another. Make sure you book a hotel that has a restaurant and room service in case you are too tired or feel too ill to leave the hotel or even get out of your room. Let your family and friends know in advance that you will likely only be doing a few of their planned activities and taking the remainder of the time to relax. Remember, just the fact that you have traveled outside of your city, state or country is a big deal - even if you stay in the hotel watching your favorite television series. It can be tempting to squeeze as much as possible into your travels, but do not overdo it and know your limits.
5.) Focus On The Positives And Have Fun!: Yes, you could sit in your hotel room and have a cry or ruminate (think deeply about something) on the fact that you are missing out on the bustling activities around you. However, this would not be very productive. Instead, run a bubble bath or enjoy a warm shower and have some room service and plan for a better day tomorrow. With all the anxieties and frustrations of Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis, one can forget how much of a warrior a patient has to be to even survive - much less travel. In most cases, family and friends completely understand that patients are limited and are happy to simply have them along for the travel. Fighting Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis every day is exceptionally challenging. Hence, focus on the positives, have as much fun as you can, and try to take setbacks in stride.
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