Posted by: Rob | July 27, 2010


Despite one false start on the road to taking Olivia on holiday last year, we did eventually have a lovely week in Cornwall, and following that, it was clear we should try to get away again this year.

Looking after Olivia every hour of every day is exhausting, not just physically but mentally and emotionally too.  Getting away from the rigmarole at home is a really important way for us to stay sane.  But when Debra bravely announced that we should “try to go abroad” my picture of a week of relaxation and recuperation changed to a possible nightmare.

Just to get this in context, Olivia is fairly complex.  She has at the last count 14 medicines, 4 ingredients to her feed and 6 different items of medical supplies.  Not to mention multiple medical problems and multiple medical professionals to support them.  This is all fine when we are at home, everything has it’s place, we have weeks ahead supplies of everything she needs, and we can get anything she needs within a few days at most.  All medical professionals are on the end of the phone, there’s a nurse that can visit us, a hospital up the road, and Great Ormond Street is 45 minutes away for when something really bad happens.  So taking us all away from our home for more than 12 hours is daunting, but taking us all to another country sounded like a crazy idea to me.

Not to mention all the other things that are necessary to leave the country.  Olivia needed a passport, simple enough idea, but then can you imagine how difficult it might be to get a passport photo of an 18 month old who can’t sit up, hold her head up, sit still, or look at the camera, let alone make that picture fit the numerous criteria the passport service set.  Then we would need travel insurance.  You know when you buy travel insurance, one of the question is “Do you suffer from any of these medical conditions?” Most of us can say “No”, the impact of saying “Yes” resulted in Olivia’s case in nearly an hour long phone call to describe her multiple problems and then at the end the princely sum of £95 to insure her for a week.  Debra and I could have bought a policy that covered similar limits for £7.50 for both of us.  There’s the packing.  To move a weeks supply of medicine, food and supplies, and spares, all of which are specialist items that you can’t just walk into a shop in this country, let alone another one to buy them, was a mammoth task.  And without the Medical professionals on hand, nor the familiar hospitals nearby, we had to procure documentation of her conditions and treatments, and get it translated to help us if we had an emergency.

But we managed it all, and packed the enormous volume into a massive box strapped to the roof of the car, before embarking on a fairly long drive/ferry/drive into deepest darkest France (flying incidentally for many many reasons was and possibly always will be out of the question for Olivia).

After a long but comfortable journey, we arrived at the house we had rented in a little village in Normandy, unpacked, settled in and had a quiet, pleasant, incident free week.  In fact it was better than that, we can confidently say Olivia had one of the best weeks she’s ever had, staying comfortable and content all week, and we thoroughly enjoyed the break from the never ending phonecalls, appointments and fights we have to endure week in week out.

I’m just going to prepare myself for Debra announcing a trip to another continent for next year’s holiday.



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