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It seems forever since I posted. My husband and I just back from an almost-three-week adventure and the couple of weeks prior to that were very busy with work and getting ready for the trip (more about that below).

Happy Pills store in Barcelona

Happy Pills store in Barcelona (sells candy “pills”)

One of the “joys” of having a chronic illness is making plans around your medication schedule. As we were going to be gone for such an extended time, I had to make sure that both my husband and I had enough of our prescriptions to last us (per the Hobbits) there and back again. Part of the issue was that both of us had just started new medications so it was going to be too early for a refill but we’d run out during the trip. I’d managed far enough ahead on our other medications that I got refills right before we left, so we had a full supply to see us through on those.

With prescription medications (especially specialty medications such as Xeljanz) there are limited options for addressing this. With my husband’s new medication, I could have gone to our local pharmacy and had some extra pills “loaned” to us against his next refill. I’m not sure if all pharmacies do this, but our local pharmacy will make some accommodations in special circumstances like these or if, for example, a physician refill authorization is late in coming. Since the Xeljanz comes from my specialty pharmacy, this was not an option.

As noted in earlier posts, I got both a two-week sample from the manufacturer and my doctor’s office provided a sample bottle as well, which was enough to solve my problem. For my husband, I took a cue from my Xeljanz experience and called doctor’s office. They had originally provided a small sample bottle of the new medication, so I asked if they could provide us a couple more to see us through the vacation, which they did.

I have to say that switching to Xeljanz when I did was very opportune. Otherwise I would have to figure out how to manage my pre-filled Orencia injections through multiple security screenings and keeping them cold over the course of trip. I had already decided to take one injection early before we left on the trip then just be late for the next one scheduled for two weeks later. Fortunately I didn’t have to deal with that situation.

We take 18 prescription medications on a daily basis.

We take 18 prescription medications on a daily basis.

Together, my husband and I take 18 prescription medications on a daily basis (plus a plethora of vitamins and supplements). On top of those (which got placed into the daily pill minder boxes), there was another bag full of the “occasional” medications that I needed to take along, just in case. Those included such things as prednisone, prescription pain relievers and muscle relaxers. In addition to those prescriptions, there was yet another bag full of “travel” medications that our new doctor had prescribed including Cipro, Tamiflu, and something to address stomach viruses. We had most of a bag of just prescriptions.

But about the trip … It was terrific.

From Dallas we flew to Miami Beach where we spent the night. The next day we boarded the Norwegian Epic for an 11-day trans-Atlantic cruise from Miami to Barcelona, Spain with a stop on day eight at Madeira, a Portuguese island where the wine by the same name is made.

The cruise was wonderful with great food and lots of fun things to do (especially in the evening), but I remarked to my husband that it reminded me what living in a luxury retirement home must be like. As we were on the ship day after day after day, things got pretty routine and revolved around meal times. One of the highlights was a guest lecturer who does documentaries for PBS who spoke on the history of the railroads, Grand Central Terminal (which I love), and the Packard automobiles.

Alcove in the Catedral de Barcelona

Alcove in the Catedral de Barcelona

After the cruise we stayed a couple of days in Barcelona. We had visited once before a couple of years ago when we were on our last cruise, but this time we figured out the subway system which made getting around to all the sites a whole lot easier. Barcelona is an amazing city and one of the cleanest cities I’ve ever visited. Renown for its Gaudi architecture and Picasso museum, we spent a large part of a day visiting the beautiful Catedral de Barcelona.

From Barcelona we traveled to London. We used to spend Thanksgivings in London, but haven’t been to London since 2012, so we couldn’t miss the opportunity of being on that side of the Atlantic and visiting it again. Last time it seemed like the whole city was under construction for the Summer Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration, so it was nice to visit again to see the improvements since last time. I’m pleased that many of the subway stations are becoming “step free” making the city more accessible to those of with mobility issues. We visited some favorite haunts and restaurants, took in a showing of the latest Jeeves and Wooster play which is classic British humor, and stumbled into the premier showing of Godzilla in Leicester Square just as the stars made their appearance on the red carpet. In all, a good time.

The trip was capped off (thanks to airline points) with a first-class return on British Airways which is the closest I’ll ever get to being treated like royalty. As an American it was almost embarrassing to be treated to that much service. But it was my birthday so I enjoyed every minute of the 10-hour flight back to Dallas.

I am pleased to say that I did extremely well over the trip, even with all the tramping around cobblestone streets in Barcelona and London. I was sore and my joints were starting to be a bit swollen after Barcelona so I took a low-dose of prednisone while in London (three days of 10 mg, followed by three days of 5 mg) which seemed to calm things down. I can only conclude that the Xeljanz is working because the issues I had been having on Orencia are no longer there and I barely thought about RA the entire time I was on the trip. I have a follow-up visit to my rheumatologist next week, so we’ll see what she has to say. (My one concern is that I put on 13 pounds after starting the drug, the majority of which was before the trip, so I can’t blame cruise-line food.)

So, back home again. I apologize to those bloggers that I follow who posted some wonderful posts in my absence. There were connectivity issues on the ship and while traveling so while I got to enjoy the posts via emails for the ones I subscribe to, I wasn’t able to post a comment. Now to get caught up on work and laundry and all those other parts of my life that didn’t go “on hold” just because I was gone.

It’s great to be back. I hope whatever adventures you’ve had in your life have been good. Thanks for checking in.