One of the things when you realise your child (or you yourself!) is going to be connected up to pumps every night is how this could stop you doing the normal things in life … like holidays! I know that many mange to travel, even abroad, but for our current situation and many others like us, that for now is not something that is available to us.
When we were planning our family, Ian and I pictured camping trips with barbecues, cycle rides and many other fun outdoor (and cheap!) activities. With a daughter on TPN 7 nights a week, this suddenly didn't sound possible … until we discovered 'Sandy Balls' in the New Forest, Hampshire.
This fantastic site has ready tents (plus caravans and wooden lodges) during the summer - with power! Firstly, you arrive and everything is ready for you, but more importantly they have power for running pumps and medical fridges! There are toilets etc close by for hand washing and very clean washing facilitieseven a room with a bath. I called them before booking to clarify the concerns I had and the staff were very helpful in giving me as much information as they could to answer my somewhat unusual requests and questions!!
On arriving, the tent had all the home comforts and we enjoyed a wonderful week, a real family holiday! The site is set in the stunning New Forest where there is loads to see and do, plus there's a plaza with pub, restaurant (who were amazingly helpful and considerate when it came to dealing with Isobel's rather specific dietary requirements - meaning she had her first ever meal out at a restaurant ordering from the menu!) there's also 2 pools, a store selling essentials, cycle hire and a spa.
The week cost us less than £200 and the tent has 6 beds with plenty of room for a family. They'll even equip it with highchairs and travel cots for a small fee.
The only thing we didn't get a chance to try on this first visit was the pool. With Isobel having a central line, swimming and getting her wet isn't a safe option for us. This upset me as I'd see other families going off to swim and wished we could do the same. So I began to look into what there was out there and discovered the Hammond Shortie Drysuit which is made to measure for people with lines - you can even wear it with a backpack on all inside and safe.
Last month, we went back to Sandy Balls, this time staying in a cosy static caravan and Isobel went swimming... Once used to getting her suit on, she loved it! We couldn’t get her out of the pool! She has now started swimming lessons as she can move very freely in the suit, and loves the water! She does everything the other children do... even swimming under water! The suits are worth every penny and designed to last a while with a lot of room for growth, we raised the funds with donations and a car boot sale, friends and family were desperate to help us get her in the water!
Some of you may remember Isobel from a previous article and are wondering where her NG tube is ... she is now able to eat a very restricted diet and take her oral medications so no longer needs it!
It was a very long road after her being nil by mouth for so long...but she’s done so well. She’s still TPN dependant due to her motility and absorption issues, but she’s doing well.
I can’t recommend a holiday like this enough... the simple things in life really can be the best! Go for it and enjoy!!!