|Written by Katy Draper|
Mike & Jaki Milligan.
After 1999 being the year of cancelled holidays, we thought we'd try to get away as early in 2000 as possible. We hadn't needed to arrange dialysis for holidays since 1988 so this time it was a challenge to find somewhere a bit further away than the Canaries.
Eventually after scouring the Eurodial book, the Internet and information from Elke at Withington we finally found a clinic we liked the sound of and most importantly Dr Ackrill approved. Lorrie (Mike's Home Sister) was greatly relieved as we had a lot of clinics rejected.
Run by Atlantis Healthcare in Canada are clinics in Jamaica, Barbados & St Lucia under the name "Island Dialysis". We thought St Lucia sounded more like our kind of place so we found out all the details and looked for flights and accommodation to suit us.
We chose Marlin Quay Hotel as we could have studio with full kitchen - not that I ever intended cooking! The fridge was very useful for Mike's EPO & my beers. It is 6 miles from the capital Castries where the clinic is situated.
The day before we were due to fly Mike had to visit Withington for treatment for his anaemia - I still thought we might not make it - but lo and behold Tuesday arrived and we were off on the early morning shuttle flight to Gatwick and on to St Lucia.
The first thing to arrange on arrival at our hotel was a taxi to take Mike to the clinic the following morning. This was no problem, he had Donald to take him both ways each day and they became friends with Donald proving a mine of information on the Island.
The Nurse at the clinic, Connie Hager was from USA and very experienced. There were 5 machines, very hi-tech, but only two people dialysing, Mike & Tyrone, a chef from one of the Sandals resorts. The clinic is in the Tapion Hospital where a Doctor is available at all times. Dialysis times are flexible, everything is aimed at an enjoyable holiday. The cost per dialysis is US$320 (about £200) and payments can be made by credit cards.
The Island is very beautiful with a lush green landscape, quite hilly with poor roads. Obviously if the land is green there must be rain. We had many short showers, sometimes heavy but always followed by sunshine.
The sun shines every day, the temperatures hover around the mid 80's. We both used a very high factor sun cream, starting with 35 going down to 25 and spent a lot of time in the shade. We never had any problem with sunburn.
Eating out was very enjoyable with the emphasis on fresh fish and steaks. Many people in our hotel self catered and with an excellent supermarket 2 minutes away it was very easy.
Dress is very casual, shorts accepted everywhere we went. I think the upmarket Resort Hotels are a little more formal but with a large number of American tourists, casual seems to rule supreme.
We took a trip on the tall ship Brig Unicorn down the West Coast to Soufriere, viewing the famous Pitons from the sea and visiting a live volcano with sulphur springs, waterfalls and beautiful tropical gardens full of exotic plants we only ever see in pots a fraction of the size. The sailing was very relaxing, a most enjoyable day out with a difference. It appears this ship was used in the TV series "Roots".
Another day we spent walking on Pigeon Island at Rodney Bay where there are the remains of 18th Century English barracks used when the French tried to capture the Island, apparently quite a common occurrence in those days. Rodney Bay being named after the English Admiral. There are two steep hills with terrific views from the tops. This headland is where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean Sea and the difference is tremendous.
We have never had such a relaxing holiday, it was just what we needed. At first I wondered what I would do while Mike was at the clinic, but with a good selection of paperbacks from home and very friendly guests by the pool it was no problem.
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