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|Newsletters: Europe on a Liter a Day|
Europe on a Liter a Day
Sheila Messina, RN, MA, NMC Homecare
Last September I had the unique opportunity to be part of a professional delegation that spent sixteen days meeting with clinical counterparts in Portugal, Morocco and Spain. Our focus was intravenous therapy. We were a delegation of nurses, one pharmacist and one retired educator.
When the opportunity was presented, I not only needed to make a professional decision about going, but also a personal one. I am on daily infusion therapy and believed this would be a major challenge. It became a question of whether I wanted to go to through the extra effort required to make a trip such as this, and what steps would be needed to assure that I could function in a safe manner.
As I travel extensively nationwide on a regular basis, I believed it would be possible for me to venture further. Also, since initiating daily therapy over eleven years ago, I have always gone beyond the usual boundaries - mainly to give hope to myself and others. This trip would be the next logical step.
Once I decided to go, I determined what my needs would be and how to make certain I could be as prepared as possible. This meant taking a catheter repair kit and urokinase for possible occlusions. Routine supplies included hydration bags, calcium, MVI, trace elements, imferon, heparin and all the associated supplies necessary to administer the therapy.
Then I evaluated packing strategies to find the most efficient way of packing and carrying everything I needed. I chose to use a separate suitcase for the solutions and supplies, had everything labeled, and carried a copy of my prescriptions in each suitcase I took.
I chose to take everything with me rather than ship it. We would be moving about a great deal and I did not want the stress of missing a delivery or spending time dealing with customs.
Overcoming the Challenges
When one travels there are many concerns that arise just in relation to those items necessary for daily functioning, such as clothing and food. Imagine adding the concerns that relate to administering daily infusion and doing it in a foreign country! Each new hotel presented its own challenges. What area would I use for preparation? Where was the bathroom in relation to the bed? Was there sufficient area in the bathroom in front of the mirror to place my catheter dressing supplies and visualize my catheter site?
I prepare everything just prior to administration, so I did not require a refrigerator. (Just about all of the hotels did have one in the room.) I also chose to have a single room as I am not comfortable infusing in front of anyone except my immediate family. I also did not think it would be fair to ask another person to share a room with me as I would disturb their sleep.
Taking the time to evaluate my surroundings did allow me to infuse daily without compromise. The only restriction I found necessary was to make certain that I had sufficient time to infuse each night. I believe in a six to eight hour infusion. Since we started each morning very early, it was important that I be in at a reasonable hour. As it turns out, I only missed one evening out.
I am so glad that I chose to have this experience! My own concerns might have seriously limited me, had I not been willing to believe in the possibilities of expanding my horizons.
“Living life to its fullest” is my motto, and this trip was certainly a validation of that belief. In addition, other long term consumers should be encouraged to challenge their limitations, and I believe I give them that possibility through my endeavors.