There are times in life when you just have to get away for a while and recharge the old batteries, nothing does that better than sitting by the pool on a hot sunny day and soaking up the rays with a nice cold drink in your hand. We can put all our cares and worries on the back burner for a week or two and just relax. We come back off holiday feeling fully charged and ready to get our noses back to the grindstone.
With motor neurone disease (MND) it is not as simple as just booking a late deal and flying off to some tropical destination, those of us that that have travelled by air will be aware the aeroplane is pressurized. The pressure inside the aircraft during the flight is at a lower level than that of the pressure of the ground.
It is the pressure within cabin that can causes problems for some MND sufferers, (although I must stress that every case of MND is different and the respiratory team at the hospital are the best people to get more information from when it comes to air travel). The combination of low pressure and weakened breathing, a person with MND could suffer breathing difficulties during the flight and may even lose consciousness altogether, and that can be life-threatening.
Having MND does not mean that one can never travel overseas again; a person with MND may have to have to undergo a flight assessment. We were advised that if we wanted to fly, then this would mean that Angela would need to go to hospital and be tested on her ability to breathe with oxygen. We were also advised she may need that bit extra help while in flight and this could involve the use of a ventilation device.
However, the assessment is not a quick process so forward planning is required as it can take time just to get an appointment for more information, follow the link go down to information sheets and go to 8E to download the information in PDF format. There is the other issue with an overseas holiday, and that is travel insurance. We all need it just in case something should happen and we need treatment while we’re away on holiday. It is even more important with MND as specialist care is required and this could mean that the cost of insurance is greatly increased, but it is crucial that the right level of travel insurance is chosen.
During my research for this post, I have read stories from other MND sufferers who have said that they found it hard to find travel insurance or that the medical excess was so high that it put hundreds of pounds extra on top of the cost of insurance. I called a few of the major travel insurance providers and I went through all the medical screening for myself and Angela, the end result was they can offer me insurance but Angela’s condition would not be covered.
However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel as one itnsurer did give me a phone number of another insurer called All Clear and I called them and was told that they do cover MND.
Angela and I were married just over two weeks ago and have not booked anywhere for our honeymoon. Angela would like to go to Benidorm, but because of the aforementioned issues we may just have to book a honeymoon somewhere in Britain for now while everything is put in place and we can go away in the New Year. This will give us time to plan well in advance and try to cover every problem that could arise.
Apart from the travel insurance there are a number of other things that need to be taken care of including.
- Angela has a PEG feeding tube fitted as her swallowing is severely affected and with that in mind we will need plenty of supplements (liquid food) to last her for the duration of the holiday. The hospital have said that if we let them know where we are then they will have it sent there for us, but she will still need some on her for feeding during travel.
- We need letters from the doctor explaining Angela’s condition and what medication she will be carrying with her. We need this because liquids are not allowed on flights unless you purchase them after check-in at the airport and Angela’s supplements are liquid.
- As Angela uses a wheelchair to get around when we are out we need to know that the place we will be going is wheelchair friendly.
There are a lot of things that need to be in place before we travel and I have no doubt that I have only scratched the surface with what I have detailed here. It is a learning process that goes on and on but the point to remember is that it is not an overnight process and it takes time to put things in place.