31 May 6 Things to Know When Traveling on Dialysis
Mike O’Connor – Music City Reach/ESCO patient: On Traveling
You don’t ask Mike O’Connor where he’s traveled to. You ask him, where have you not traveled to?
Kidney disease hasn’t slowed Mike down. Mike, a 61-year-old Reach Kidney Care patient, didn’t even let dialysis hold him back. The only reason he’s taking a year off of travel is because he has a kidney transplant scheduled this summer.
Since starting peritoneal dialysis, Mike’s been to Florida, Oregon and Michigan. He’s been on a road trip to South Dakota. He takes many weekend trips with his wife, and he doesn’t seem to think traveling on dialysis is a problem.
What’s his secret to traveling so often and so well on dialysis? We asked Mike, and this is what he shared.
Plan precisely for your needs
“It takes up to one week for your dialysis supplies to be delivered, so give yourself time when pre-ordering, otherwise if you run out of supplies or it doesn’t arrive in time, you’re at the mercy of staying in one place until it arrives,” Mike shared.
Develop a packing system, keep it consistent
Mike said, “Always make sure you have your safety caps. Bring dialysate. Create a checklist so you don’t forget anything. Once you have it all together, pack it together. For instance, I use one specific suitcase for ancillary equipment every trip.”
Always pack extra supplies
“Traveling on dialysis has been no problem at all, your extra baggage just happens to be equipment. If you’re traveling in a trailer or on a road trip, the biggest thing to consider is space. The equipment takes up room. Also, remember you have to be able to move it yourself,” Mike noted.
If you’re flying, it is important to note that dialysis supplies qualify as lifesaving medical equipment, so the weight of the luggage won’t count against you. Remember, if you’re shipping dialysis equipment to a hotel or future destination, it cannot be delivered without your personal signature. Make sure you’re there when it’s scheduled for delivery!
Know that you can get help on the road
“On a trip to Sturgis, South Dakota, I got an infection that threw a wrench in the plan. But, my wife just took me to the hospital and they treated me right away. You can’t be afraid of hospitals. You have to understand anything can happen, just like at home,” he shared.
Be flexible and know where dialysis centers are near you
“If your catheter fails, you’ll have to find a hemodialysis center, and it may cut your trip short, or reroute you. That’s okay. Make sure you get there safely.” Flexibility is key to traveling on dialysis. Use the https://www.medicare.gov/dialysisfacilitycompare/ site to locate dialysis centers in the US.
“Traveling is really fun. I never saw dialysis as a setback. After my kidney transplant, my wife and I are going to Tucson, Ariz., and Portand, Ore., to visit the grandchildren. We’re also planning a trip to Ireland, to learn more about my ancestry. Don’t let dialysis or kidney disease slow you down.”
“We encourage our kidney patients to keep their trips planned. What they do on the road is the same as what they do at home. We tell them to monitor blood pressure, bring all of their doctor’s phone numbers and most of all, we assure them that traveling is a great opportunity. We don’t want them to feel held back in any way,” said Ed Dennis, NP, Reach Kidney Care of Middle Tennessee care coordinator.
Check out these resources when planning a trip:
Please note: this is not medical advice. If you are planning a trip, please talk with your dialysis nurse, social worker, and nephrologist.