… because I’m going on THE ROCK BOAT next week! I’m not going to go into details of this amazing trip, if you know me at all you know I’ve done this trip every year since 2004. It’s basically a floating concert festival with about 20 or 30 bands and a couple thousand of the best people you’ll ever meet. There are a lot of repeat visitors like myself – and lifelong friendships have developed over the years. This year’s trip was planned and booked all in the past week. Why so late in the game, and how did it come together? Grab a cup of coffee and read on.
If you read this blog at all, you know the ordeal I’ve been going through in the past year. How I felt really bad, exhausted, fatigued for several months. How I reached Stage 5 kidney failure, started hemodialysis and eventually switched to peritoneal dialysis. If you want details on all of that, read previous entries. But for now, fast forward to today’s topic – traveling on peritoneal dialysis (PD).
It’s no secret I like to travel. I do a lot of short trips here and there. I realize that with my new lifestyle that I have to be more realistic with my social life and traveling, and do what’s best for my body as opposed to my keeping my old habits. I have drastically cut back on my social outings, I stay home a lot more than I used to, but I still get out on occasion. The same goes with traveling.
My first trip was a weekend in Washington DC with my sister and her husband. I was able to travel via plane with 2 days worth of dialysis fluid. It was a heavy haul but I managed it, and was able to do my treatments in the AirBnB house we rented. I was able to sightsee in Washington and zip back for treatments whenever I needed to. It worked out really great, and I had the energy to last all weekend – just like a normal person.
My second trip was a piece of cake compared to that one. I drove to Chicago for a weekend. It’s easy to haul a few days worth of supplies in a car. I was able to do my treatments at my friend Amy’s place in the city, which was easy to zip to and from for treatments while we were out and about doing things.
Now back to the Rock Boat. This is a trip you typically book many many months in advance. It costs a lot of money and takes planning for flights, hotels, and paying cruise fare. Because of all the things I went through last summer, I decided to not even book the Rock Boat for 2016. I didn’t know what kind of dialysis I’d be on, if I’d be laid up sick, or even if I’d be having kidney transplant surgery. I honestly had no idea about my future so I didn’t book it. No big deal, it wasn’t a big issue – I can skip a Rock Boat for sake of the rusty kidneys.
Well about a week ago. I received a call from my very amazing and good friend Andrea. She and her husband Scott are long time Rock Boaters. I talked them into going 7 or 8 years ago, and they have gone back every year. They had a baby in July 2014. They attempted Rock Boat last year but had to fly home (the morning of!) for an emergency with their baby. He’s fine thankfully So here it is a year later – they had booked TRB again – but as time came near they decided that one of them should stay home with the baby. He’s not sick, it’s just parental instinct, not wanting to leave baby behind with both of them gone, and probably fear of last year happening again.
Andrea called to offer me Scott’s spot on the boat – to room with her on the cruise. To me, money wasn’t the issue – I have money to pay. But I declined for the same reasons I didn’t book in the first place – just because of the logistics of it all. This isn’t one of those “carry-on” trips like Washington for a couple days. This is 7 nights – with 5 of them on a cruise ship. How in the world would I get 7 days worth of dialysis fluid to Miami, then onto a cruise ship? I can’t fly with that much. This is why I never booked it in the first place. Just too much hassle. So I politely declined – despite the offered monetary deal, which was basically next to nothing.
Later that day, Scott gave me call – giving me the same offer. I reminded him of the logistical issues, and how it would be even tougher to pull off last minute. I knew that my dialysis clinic offered delivery to any city in the U.S. – but still, it seemed like a nightmare to deal with it. But to satisfy curiosity, I told him to hold off on offering to anybody else for a few hours – and I’d call him at end of day. Here’s what I found out that afternoon:
- I called a few hotels near the port, asked if they’d receive and store a shipment of dialysis fluid for me, a few days prior to my arrival. One of them said “yes”.
- I called the Norwegian Cruise Line, asked about their policy with peritoneal dialysis patients. They said they do accommodate us with no problem. It’s just a matter of getting my supplies on the ship, which is usually done by the dialysis company directly. They let them on board and the items are delivered to my cabin.
That’s all I needed to hear. I got very excited, and felt like James Bond for a second. I’m really pulling off a crazy feat here – so I called Scott back, told him “i’m in!” and set forth in booking everything.
I used points I’ve accumulated for a free flight. I also used points for a free hotel night in Miami before the cruise. I’m staying an extra night in Miami after the cruise because (a) why not? (b) flight is a LOT cheaper on Monday (it made the extra hotel night a wash), and (c) I’m sure a relaxing day and night on land before flying will be good for my body. Plus I won’t have to do any dailysis exchanges in an airport the day we get back.
So here’s my logistical plan:
- Plan for 7 days worth of dialysis fluid to be shipped to my Miami hotel (DONE)
- When I arrive at hotel, take 1 day’s worth to my room.. Leave remaining boxes in hotel storage until next day
- On boarding day, load up 5 days worth onto the hotel shuttle van (leave 1 box behind at hotel for the night that I return from cruise)
- Call the pier supervisor for Port of Miami (he’ll be expecting my call, per NCL Access Staff)
- Meet pier supervisor at the terminal where I’m dropped off, he’ll handle logistics of getting my supplies to my cabin… offering any assistance or special porters I may need.
- Make sure I have a couple extra treatments with me in a backpack as I board, in case there are delays getting my supplies to my room.
- ENJOY ROCK BOAT XVI!!!!!
- Get back to hotel in Miami after cruise, where I’ll have a box of supplies left from several days prior.
- Rest up, fly home next day.
I plan on having the time of my life. The biggest difference is I won’t be indulging in all those buckets of cerveza that I usually do. I can drink alcohol – that’s not an issue. I just have to watch the amount of liquid in general I take in. That includes water, cola, juice, alcohol, everything. A dialysis diet means I have to eat a lot of protein. That’s not a problem on a cruise ship. The problem is – the copious amounts of salt and libations available to you. I can have both – but in moderation. Otherwise I’ll bloat up and start retaining a ton of extra water. My dialysis gets rid of this extra water – but it can get to an extreme level on a cruise ship. So I just have to be careful with my intake.
If you’re reading this and you’re on the Rock Boat and you see me with a drink in my hand, don’t think anything bad – I’m allowed to live, enjoy myself, and relax on vacation – I just have to be very responsible on the volume. That’s my plan of attack. (In other words, don’t be shy about offering me a teeny tiny shot once in awhile haha…)
Anyway kids – I’ll see you on THE ROCK BOAT next week!
(All images/graphics courtesy of Sixthman / Will Byington Photography)