Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Sun, Sea and Parma Ham



Sicily was the first abroad holiday I had been on since going into acute renal failure the previous year.  So, when the opportunity came to go on - a free - holiday again I jumped at the chance and, surprisingly uncharacteristically, did not worry about where or when I was going to get dialysis or, in fact, what the centre would be like.  Or if they even spoke any English.  I let the holiday dialysis company fuss about all that whilst I just looked forward to some sun!

The other first for this holiday was the relaxation aspect of it.  The K's (Dad's side) and the M's (Mum's side) are the type of families who get up earlier on holiday than they do for work.  Every year, almost, my Mum's side would go skiing and if you were late for the 8am bus to the gondola or you could not walk fast enough because your poles kept falling, well then, that was your own fault.   I remember not speaking to my uncle for a day because he shouted at us for being late, which we were not.  Or on the majority of holiday's taken with my folks I was woken up at unsightly hours to go and see this special breed of seagull that can only be found on this remote part of the Scottish Outer Hebrides. On a trip to Majorca when I was two I was bitten by a pelican on the beach.  When I was about five, my parents and I went to Florida and during, what should have  been a pleasant tour round a national park, I was locked in the car watching my Dad try to kill himself by getting up close and personal with a 16ft alligator.  Or the time when we went skiing to Lake Tahoe and my Dad came back with a ripped jacket and told everyone he was attacked by a bear.   I was so excited I told everyone... turns out he is just a bad skier who collided with a tree!  Not that I am complaining.  I have so many incredible memories and have learnt some vital life skills during these times, like, do not ever go near a hungry alligator - very important when trying to remain alive!  

My Dad was fine, by the way, thanks for wondering.

So, the holiday to Sicily.  It was probably the first time I had experienced sun in 18 months (because Aberdeen is sunny for all of 24 minutes of the year) and it was utterly glorious. 
You know that heat that hits you as soon as you walk off a plane in a hot country? Ah, sheer bliss.  We landed on a scorching Saturday afternoon in Palermo and drove for an hour or so to the idyllic Hotel Alberi Del Paradiso in Cefalu, just a short five minute drive from the dialysis centre. Once you figured out the route.
 
The day we arrived we relaxed at the hotel. I am the sort of person who needs to unpack and settle before exploring. Call it old-wifey-ish but I like to feel comfortable in the knowledge that everything is in place.  Once that was finished, it was time to find one of my favourite things, Parma ham (which was my main food source for basically the entire holiday).  It was quite late after dinner so we trotted off to bed. 

I have to say, everywhere else you go to in the world (with the exclusion of the UK and America) they have the most wonderful breakfast spreads.  Each morning I had croissants and pastries and ham and fruit and cake and ham - the life!!
 

On the first, official, day we walked down to the centre of the city (town!).  Cefalu is beautiful, peaceful, traditional and perfect in every stereotypical Italian way.  Friendly people, good food, washing effortlessly swaying in the wind between two gorgeous ancient stone buildings, gelato parlours around every corner and a striking white church in the centre of the main square.  It was, simply, faultless.  We strolled along the beach and sunbathed on the generous golden sand. It could not have been better - I'm starting to sound like a travel brochure but it was stunning.
 

For the next couple of days we either sat by the pool - you must remember, this is very unlike us - sipping cocktails or venturing out
around the city (town!) to take in the sights and eat some spectacular food, which included Parma ham.
 
Tuesday was my first dialysis day and I needed it badly.  I had not had dialysis since early Friday morning and was six kilos overweight in fluid. There was some sort of confusion during booking.  Something to do with me supposed to be getting dialysis on the Saturday even though I had not arrived on the island - not our fault.  Nevertheless, the centre was clean, which you would hope as it was a private unit and cost my parents 360Euros a session - cash.  The staff were extremely friendly but did not speak much English, luckily I had brushed up on my Italiano, and the machines did not make an awful screeching noise whenever they beeped.  This was my first experience of new, swanky, Western European dialysis machines. They are very sleek.  Through my 'vast' experience of travelling with dialysis, I find it better to have it in the morning that way you do not waste the day.  If you are skiing, however, evening is best. Furthermore, if ever going abroad for dialysis I would thoroughly encourage you to either take a good book or download some movies/TV shows to watch while you are there.  There is only so much small talk you can make in a foreign language, no matter how lovely it may be. 


On the Wednesday we travelled to the picturesque, 14th Century town of CastelbuonoYet again, stereotypically wonderful.  Even the meandering roads leading up the hills from the peaceful beaches we left behind were tranquil (I need to become a travel writer. Think Bill Bryson would take me under his wing?).  The Castle, which Castelbuono gets its name, stood in all its glory at the top of the town.  There was some kind of street flower exhibit on that the local children had produced.  There were arrangements of all sorts of very colourful flower pictures along the main street from Charlie Chaplin to Rodger Rabbit.  We spend the whole afternoon there engorged in gelato and beautiful scenery before heading back for more, you guessed it, Parma ham.  And some other actual food.


 


Thursday came and it was dialysis day again.  When I woke up I had this awful pain down the side of my left thigh but thinking nothing of it I carried on and headed for dialysis.  Throughout the day it progressively became worse. Not to the point of "get me to a hospital" just "get me some paracetamol".  Unbeknown to me until I arrived home I had shingles.  Nothing too serious unless you have not had the chicken pox - which my Dad had not had!  There was nothing I could have done, it just goes away after about ten days but bloody painful.



The penultimate night was an experience.  Now, I get hangry (hungry and angry) but I think my Dad is worse.  We sauntered down to a lovely, recommended, restaurant which seemed attractive from the outside.  I could tell by the time we arrived that my Dad was hungry, more so than Mum and I, and we needed to get food fast. We sat down and were ready to order within five minutes however 30 minutes had passed before someone came to take our drinks order, this did not bode well.  There seemed to be at atmosphere in the restaurant which made us uncomfortable.  After waiting 45 minutes for our food order to be taken my Dad was becoming increasing impatient.  I think the thing that made him hit the fan was when he saw the chef smoking in the kitchen. Have you ever seen a red English man argue with a red Italian maître d'?


No?

Good.

After a five minute show down, my Dad walked out with us speedily behind him but by the time we had reached the door, Dad had completely disappeared.  He's 6ft 2 and walks like the BFG, Mum and I are both under 5ft 4 and walk like oompa loompas.   So, we slowly walked back to the car, peering down every street to see if we could see a shining red stare glaring back at us (Dad, in case that was not obvious).  No such luck so we drove back to the hotel.  Once back in the room we found Dad bunched up angrily on the bed watching BBC News with what I believe was his last Dime bar and possibly a Snicker.  Mum and I went to the hotel restaurant for dinner, leaving Dad sulking in the room.

By morning Dad had calmed down and we spend a wonderful last day on the island. The meal at night was unruffled and I did not have Parma ham.

I have found that one of the main issue with dialysis patients is that they are scared to go on holiday because the units are unfamiliar and the way they do things is slightly different but, if you think about it, the way Tesco and ASDA slice their bread is different, doesn't mean it tastes any worse (bad metaphor but you get the gist).  In fact, I have found holiday dialysis centres far better, and more efficient, than some at home.  Find a good dialysis holiday coordinator, out-with your own unit, and let them help you with your holiday.  They usually have more contacts and therefore more destinations become available.  They will cost a little depending on where you want to go and for how long, etc but they will handle everything for you so your stress becomes insignificant.

Final word: I highly recommend Sicily as a holiday destination, whether you are on dialysis or not. 


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22 comments

  1. I read this with a tear in my eye.

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  2. PS I've included this post in my pick of the week's best: http://www.behindthespin.com/news/the-weeks-best-to-11-march

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  3. I'm so happy you were able to travel! Gives the rest of us hope! May I ask a question? I live in the US. My insurance company won't pay for dialysis outside of the US. Was your dialysis amount supplemented in anyway by insurance?
    Thank you so much!
    Cindy

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    Replies
    1. Hello Dear, i am 26 n at CKD 3, doctr says they cant do anything. I feel sick many time n will soon b living on dialysis. I will feel very comfortable to be with sm1 who is like me. Who can understand what am going through.

      Delete
    2. Hello Dear, i am 26 n at CKD 3, doctr says they cant do anything. I feel sick many time n will soon b living on dialysis. I will feel very comfortable to be with sm1 who is like me. Who can understand what am going through.

      Delete
  4. Hello Dear, i am 26 n at CKD 3, doctr says they cant do anything. I feel sick many time n will soon b living on dialysis. I will feel very comfortable to be with sm1 who is like me. Who can understand what am going through. Plz contact me at: awasoft@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hello Dear, How are you today? Am a little fevery fevery. N since two days my arms are showing a funny pain. It seem like a game but i took challege :-).

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hello Dear, How are you today? Am a little fevery fevery. N since two days my arms are showing a funny pain. It seem like a game but i took challege :-).

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hello Dear, How are you today. I am fit today only minor pain in arms n little heavyness in head. Planing to watch a movie what do you reccomend?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hello Dear, How are you today. I am fit today only minor pain in arms n little heavyness in head. Planing to watch a movie what do you reccomend?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hello Dear, How are you today?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hello Dear, How are you today?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hello dear, How are you today where you visiting??? Feeling quite pain in muscles. Really sad. :-(

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  12. Hello Dear, How are you today. I am so energetic now a days. Soooo much excited to do somthing.

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  13. Hello Dear, how are you today. I feel so excited n energatic now a days. Want to do smthing.

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  14. hello,how are you. i hope fine .your all pictures was amazing.
    miami tours

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow...just saw this. In April and May 2016 I traveled to 7 countries with my husband and daughter while on peritoneal dialysis. I am from the states. What a chore. We literally had to lug many pounds of dialysis fluids as I did 4 exchanges a day. I was only able to 2 shipments overseas so I chose London and then Berlin as a halfway mark. I think going through airports was the worst. I would like to go to Sicily this summer so I would like to read all of your blogs to learn. We would like to live in Italy within the next 4 years. Thank you for blogging because so many people feel you can't travel while on dialysis. Thank you for sgaring.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wow...just saw this. In April and May 2016 I traveled to 7 countries with my husband and daughter while on peritoneal dialysis. I am from the states. What a chore. We literally had to lug many pounds of dialysis fluids as I did 4 exchanges a day. I was only able to 2 shipments overseas so I chose London and then Berlin as a halfway mark. I think going through airports was the worst. I would like to go to Sicily this summer so I would like to read all of your blogs to learn. We would like to live in Italy within the next 4 years. Thank you for blogging because so many people feel you can't travel while on dialysis. Thank you for sgaring.

    ReplyDelete

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