Headed to Cali for TIP: The part with (almost) all the anxiety, prep and unforeseen obstacles...
Headed out to El’s first official ‘treatment visit’ was exciting and nerve-wracking and everything in-between. The stress of air travel. The stress of hotel stays. The fear of the unknown with her appointments. COVID. The excitement of travel again. Hopeful for a future with less concern of constant health risks. It’s hard to put into words the feelings that we were all thinking, expressing and internalizing as we prepared to depart for our second trip to Southern California Food Allergy Institute, but the first where there would be food ingestion.
We were leaving on a Tuesday night, with visits scheduled for Thursday, Friday, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of the following week. Ample time to hopefully get through any potential delays in the tumultuous travel environment these days. And, with travel from the top corner of the East coast to the southern end of the West Coast we decided to make it a ‘vacation’ along with appointments (plus, it was January and coming from Maine, I was ready for sun and warmth!). A time to explore the area as a family, decide where we may want to stay going forward and enjoy some hikes and beach days. We were excited for adventure, especially with two years of semi-isolation under COVID.
We avoided most places and limited interaction with people almost two weeks prior to our departure. With COVID precautions still in high gear and the uptick of Omicron post the holidays my biggest fear was having to push El’s first appointment out months, lose out on AirBnB costs, reschedule flights, work, etc… Well, 12 days before we were leaving and 2 days after the CDC loosened their guidelines I (me, the mom) tested positive with COVID. We spent the next week and a half in complete isolation – me from the kids and my husband – them from the rest of the world. After boxes of COVID tests taken right up until the morning of our departure we went for it (with blessings from clinic).
So, we drove the 5 hours to Boston Logan Airport to take a 6 hour direct flight to LAX on a Tuesday. Delayed until 10:30pm EST, we arrived in California in the early morning hours of Wednesday. Waited an obscene amount of time at 2am PST for a rental car, then drove 30 minutes to our hotel to find out the online check-in I did from the airport on the East Coast didn’t register and because it was after midnight they ‘gave away’ our hotel room. WHAT?! This food allergy mom took a deep breath, calmly said, “what do I need to do to get our room?” (being 7am East Coast time in my two littles brains who were asleep for the third time already tonight) I knew this was not going to be good.
Fortunately they were not sold out and we got a room (no idea why the guy at the front desk had to put me into almost full-on panic-attack before telling me this …) same size as I booked and thankfully very clean. As I am sure other food allergy moms out there can understand, I still go into the room and re-clean everything before the kids can touch it. All surfaces are wiped down, couch is covered with a sheet from home, pillows get our own pillow cases (for the kids) and their blankets are put on the bed. We stay at places with kitchens, so all dishes get loaded in the dishwasher and re-run. Just standard precautions that we always follow. Exhausting, yes. Necessary, also yes.
As a food allergy parent there is a lot of prep to every trip, adventure and vacation. Packing lists, food prep, research and planning. The anxiety is just coupled with all of that and depending on how well you accomplish all the other tasks, the anxiety ebbs and flows. Not only did COVID push my anxiety into high-gear for the travel, it drastically affected my prep for the travel. Having some of my travel tips and tricks already nailed down saved me so much here! I highly encourage saved lists for ‘go to’ or ‘common’ trips to reduce the stress and allow for delegation in the packing and prep! This trip wouldn’t have been as smooth without the help of my husband and mom on the prep-work while I was isolated in a bedroom.
So as we finally settled into our bed about 5am PST, El decided she was ready for the day at 6am PST. Fortunately, we had the remainder of that day to take it easy and recuperate (best we could) until El’s patch test on Thursday morning. Family was all still negative (thankfully!) and I didn’t do anything without a mask as an extra precaution. Slept with one, walked around outside with them with one on, in the car, in the hotel, I didn’t even eat near them. I wasn’t going to take the risk of jeopardizing our trip out to Cali for El’s first TIP appointments. Especially with Saturday and Sunday between our Patch test and food challenges!
Go to Vist 1, Part II to read more about El’s Patch Placement and 4 days of challenges and dosing!