Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Travel Considerations--Medical Equipment
So many people travel with someone who uses special medical equipment. At the top of the list is the C-Pap machine (sleep apnea). Many improvements have come about during the last 20 years. The machines are much smaller than they used to be, and thank goodness, they convert automatically between 110 and 220 electrical systems. (Gone are the days of having to carry a very heavy transformer!) However, the machines are not infallible. They can malfunction. If you have gone on a trip to Patagonia and the machine quits operating, FedEx can get a new machine to you in 7-10 days. This is not acceptable. We have experienced machine problems while traveling, and this is how we now handle the situation. We now take two machines with us, the one in use and one spare. Your medical equipment supplier frequently will have nearly new machines returned, which for insurance purposes, cannot be given to another patient. These sit idle in their warehouse, and you can purchase a spare at a fraction of it's new cost. (Insurance will not help with this, but the price is right.) The machines all come with special carrying cases. I think they weigh too much. Since the basic machine must be separately removed for security at the airport, I place each machine in a lightweight tote bag, so that it can easily be removed for inspection. Pack the hose and other parts in a Ziploc bag. The inspectors only want to see the actual machine. I place the cord in a special Ziploc bag in a very secure place in the carry on bag. These cords can be easily lost at security inspections and are very difficult to replace. Please check the carry on bag before leaving the security area, to make sure that every part of the machine is still in the bag. Don't forget to bring proper plugs with you if you are going abroad. If you end up on a cruise ship or in a nice hotel and have forgotten to bring your converter plugs, don't dispair. Most better hotels and cruise ships carry plugs for sale.