It’s a long way down the Holiday Road…

It’s funny you seem to spend your life wishing time away, particularly when it comes to holidays. Once the holiday is booked the count down begins. Our holiday was no different, we couldn’t wait to get away. It had been a tough year. Daddy had been away for 4 months and we had missed him terribly. We couldn’t wait to be a proper family just the 3 of us. No professionals, no hospital appointments – just the 3 of us.

The only thing that was dimming the excitement slightly was the flight there! We tried not to think about it, but the topic would pop up! Isabella would have her moments in the 4 weeks leading up to the holiday where on a short journey, she would  become very upset for no apparent reason. Paul and I would look at each other, trying to hide the fear in our eyes. Then added to this there were people that would say, ‘Wow a 10 hour flight, however will she cope?’

Then before we knew it, it was here! We had spent all our time wishing the holiday would come round quick, so when it did, it took us by surprise. This I think was due to the all the Christmas Parties, nights outs, family visits, professional visits and hospital appointments.

We wanted to make things as easy as possible. So we decided to buy all toiletries and nappies out there. We also decided to stay at a hotel at the terminal. That way on the morning of the flight it would mean no transport, just a simple stroll to check in.

Our plan of attack was to keep it simple. No stress, no hassle, no rushing around; nothing that could potentially upset Isabella. We were able to check in our cases the night before. The queue was small and Isabella was delightful, smiling at everyone around her. The girl at Check -in was amazing, as we were allocated 3 seats away from other passengers. She attached blue badge labels to our cases, which meant they came off first. Then just as we were about to leave, we were given speedysecurity passes, which are normally allocated premium economy passengers. Things were going perfectly, we strolled back to our hotel room feeling happy and relaxed. We decided to keep Isabella up a little bit later, so she would be tired for the flight. So we all snuggled up in our king size bed, excited for the morning.

Paul and I woke full of excitement, with Isabella still dozing inbetween us. She woke with a big smile and looked at the two of us. We all were very excited and Isabella was in a very good mood, we left our hotel room and took a slow stroll to the terminal. Check in and security were a breeze, things were going to plan. We both were very relaxed. We decided to have a leisurely breakfast in Frankie and Benny’s, to get us into holiday mode.

With time to spare we managed a bimble round the shops, which I have to say are not that interesting. With only a bottle of water purchased we made our way to the gate. We were one of the first to board, we looked at each other nervously, as we walked down the tunnel. Isabella was smiling away cheerfully, but my stomach was churning, I felt sick. We got to the plane door and were greeted by three smiling faces. The buggy was taken off us and we were told we would get it on landing. Easy. I let out a deep breath, as we walked on to the plane. Isabella was still smiling at everyone she passed. So far, so good.

We took our seats. We decided to give Isabella her medication before take off. The plane was slowly filling up, but it was okay, we were on and settled. A few people were unsuccessfully trying their best to look like they weren’t looking, as I cuddled Isabella with a syringe in hand. Normally with medicine she takes it lwithout problem, on this occasion she decided to clamp her mouth shut, tight. With some encouragement she finally decided to play ball. With medicine administered, we sat her in her special needs chair. She was settled and happy, which meant we were calm and relaxed. We were late taking off and after 30 minutes of laughing and giving her I pad a good bash Isabella fell asleep. The roar of the engines didn’t wake her and both Paul and I exhaled deeply. We had made it into the air, only another 10hrs to go!

I kept glancing over at Isabella, she was fast alseep. So I decided to watch a movie. I couldn’t remember the last time I had watched a movie on a plane.  I took the headphones out of the packet, trying my hardest to muffle the rustling sound. Then I dithered choosing the movie, as there was too much choice.  I settled for Magic Mike, I figured it would be rude not too. Isabella must have sensed that Mummy was having way too much fun, as 40 minutes into the film, she woke up and for the next 9 hours that is how she would stay.

How we passed the time, I will never know,there were several nappy changes, which incidentally is no easy feat. Isabella measuring 90 cm, meant her head and feet were practically touching both walls! There was also a lot of eating during that time and lots of banging and dropping the I pad. However the whole 10 hours Isabella remained happy and calm. She was a super star, we were both very proud.

When we left the plane, we recieved Isabella’s buggy without any difficulty. Isabella was still smiling and we sat her in it. Imigration was a breeze, families with children were invited to the front of the queue. This annoyed all the people without children. We didn’t care, Isabella had been up since 5;30 am and it was now 16:00 in Las Vegas, she was doing amazingly well.

We collected our cases and took a transfer bus to collect our hire car. Isabella was now starting to tire, the day was now starting to take it’s toll. We tried to whizz round Walmart, as quickly as possible, but not quick enough, as she fell asleep, just before we left the store. She was not impressed when she was woken up during her transfer to the car. So it began. Slow at first and then it built in a crescendo of screaming. She had had enough. It was only a 10 minute drive to the hotel but that was 10 minutes too much. She got herself into such a state, as we pulled into the car park she was sick. I rushed to open the door and she was sick again, all over me!

Wrapped in a blanket and snuggled in Mummy’s arms we made our way into the hotel. Isabella was smiling again, as she was with Mummy, a very stinky Mummy. I had a made the hotel reservation, so I had to check in. So with the fragrance essence du sick, and a red faced child wrapped up in blanket covered in sick also, I checked in.

We took the lift to the 26th floor in silence. We opened the door to our amazing room, but all I wanted was to find the shower. Isabella and I jumped in, as the water washed over us, I relaxed. We were here, we had made it. Slight mishap, but nothing a shower couldn’t fix. We both got dry and into our onesies and climbed into the gigantic bed that awaited us. The view was unbelievable, lights twinkling and stars shining, but Isabella could bearly keep her eyes open, while she drank her bottle. It was okay, because she could see it all tomorrow..



It’s never ‘plane’ sailing..

I have mentioned before what a seasoned traveller our little Monkey is. At the age of 2 years and 8 months Isabella has flown to Germany (twice) Portugal, Kefalonia and Bahrain three times. Each time she has been a little star, considering she is unable to sit, play with toys and can sometimes become anxious around strangers. Sadly on the way back from Bahrain on the last trip Isabella had what is known as a ‘Meltdown’.

Parents with any child know how hard it is when their children scream and cry in public. Eyes bore into you the back of you and the ‘tut tut’ noises and loud comments fly into the air colliding with the screams of your child, deafening you. It makes it all the more difficult to calm your child down. When a child with a disability or special needs has a ‘meltdown’ the situation is a hundred times worse. In Isabella’s case her screaming and crying leads to her hyperventilating and struggling for breath. Her body, which she never has control of, goes into what can only be described as rigor-mortis. Her back arches and her legs and arms go into the air and stiffen, this makes it virtually impossible to hold her. Then added to this if she hears sudden noises, or decides to take it up a gear, she startles and throws herself backwards. To the outside world I guess it looks like I have no control, in fact I don’t and neither does Isabella. If Isabella is not removed from the situation and taken somewhere quiet quickly she goes beyond the point of no return and can be like this for hours. We were on plane. A flight that was 7 hours long. 7 whole hours. We had nowhere to go.

The screaming commenced before the plane had even departed. Daddy was stressed and that wasn’t making the situation any easier. I blame the Stewardesses. Isabella was fine. All smiles and giggles until we got to the door and the Stewardesses were being difficult about keeping her buggy (Wheel Chair) on board. It was too big apparently . My blood boiled. I had the same problems on the way out and spoke to British Airways Customer Services, who assured me that they would make the staff aware that Isabella was disabled and that we would need the Buggy on landing and that we would be bringing her car seat on board. Car Seat? The Stewardess raised her eyebrows in way that suggested I had sprouted another head. I could have slapped the Stewardess there and then. The longer we stood there, the more people who brushed past Isabella in their hurry to get on the plane. I could feel her begin to stiffen and start to whinge. More and more people made their way on the plane and this made Isabella all the more anxious. There was no point in pre boarding, as the whole plane were practically on board, due to the hassle and aggro the stewardesses were causing. Then it happened. The scream ripped down the corridor and onto the plane. Paul’s face dropped, as did the stewardesses. We boarded the plane, Isabella arching in my arms and screaming. Paul trying his best not to take people out with the change bag, Laptop bag and Car seat. We located our seats. I had spoken to the airline about getting a bulk head seat (a seat without seats in front) they had not been able to accommodate us. While Paul was trying to put everything away a steward told us that they had found us a different seat. They had upgraded us, compliments of the Captain.

We were now in Premium Economy and had a bulk head seat. Paul almost had a fight with the man across from us who was more than less impressed with the situation. Isabella screamed for 4 whole hours. The times when she was almost calm and asleep the Stewardesses would come clattering down the aisle, asking if we wanted anything. Yes, for you to go away and stop waking Isabella. ( I obviously did NOT say that!) and with that the screaming recommenced and that was pretty much the way the entire flight went.

No sooner had we left the plane, Isabella stopped crying. We swore we would not go through another journey like that. Over the coming months all the things that Isabella had previously loved she now hated. With Isabella being Non-verbal she couldn’t tell us why, but she just let us know that she no longer liked it. She began to dislike the tube, buses, swings all things that she had previously loved. We knew she didn’t like them as you could see a Meltdown brewing, before it escalated we removed her from the situation.

Although we had all had a horrendous flight experience, we didn’t want that to stop us  from travelling and discovering new places and absorbing Isabella in world of new experiences. We were now doubly anxious, as she was now not liking things that she had previously liked, but we really wanted to take her to America for Christmas. We wanted to take her To las Vegas, to see all the bright lights, and to Sea World and Disneyland. We knew that what waited for her on the otherside would be worth the flight, but not worth upsetting her. So we decided to speak to Isabella’s Neurologist to see what he could suggest.  We talked at length with the Neurologist about medication that would calm her and make her relaxed enough to sleep.

He prescribed her a sedative that would relax her and said she would sleep for 6-8 hours. He suggested that we do a trial first as some children, react differently and they can become hyper rather than relaxed! So we did the trial. It was supposed to take effect after 20 mins. We gave Isabella the sedative and put her in her high chair (to stimulate the flight) 20 mins passed, 40 mins, an hour…Isabella did not look sleepy. After 1 and half hours it was clear she was not going to sleep!

We got in touch with the Neurologist and he upped the dosage. We had another trial. Once again we adminsitered the sedative and placed her in her chair and waited. After 20 minutes her eyes started to get heavy. After 25 minutes she was asleep. BINGO! We settled ourselves on the sofa, watching Isabella. Sadly after 40 minutes she woke up, she looked to us and gave us the biggest, cheekiest grin.

Once again we contacted the Neurologist, because the holiday was fast approaching. He was unable to suggest anything else. He obviously couldn’t guarantee it, but he said as long as she was calm and relaxed on the trials she should be okay on the flight. The should be okay worried up slightly. We didn’t mind her being awake and calm, we just didn’t want her awake and massively distressed for 10 hours. It certainly wouldn’t be good for Isabella or anyone concerned. We tried to put the flight to the back of our minds and tried not to spend the next 4 weeks worrying about it….