Monday, 29 September 2014

Travelling Longhaul with Humira

This is not the subject of post that most of my followers would expect to see on Piece'n'Peace.  It is, however, the post that I searched long and hard for when planning my trip to New Zealand so I thought I would write it for anyone else who is searching.

I take Humira, (Adalimumab), in a fortnightly injection, to treat my Crohn's Disease.  The ready to go injectible doses of 40mg are delivered to me every couple of months by refrigerated van and I pop them straight into the fridge.  This is because the medication needs to be kept at between 2-8C at all times.

This isn't usually a problem, except when I wanted to travel to New Zealand, with a stopover in Singapore, and was planning to be away for two months.  That was four doses of Humira and no fridge en route  (my pharmacy explained that the airlines do not have the facilities for things like this).

Firstly I contacted the hotels where I would be staying at Heathrow airport and in Singapore.  Yes, I could put my medication in their fridges and re-freeze gel packs in their freezers.  In New Zealand, although I would be travelling around, I would have a base with my BiL and arranged to be at his when my medication was due, it could therefore stay in his fridge for the duration.

That just left Heathrow to Singapore, Singapore to Auckland, about 23 hours in planes plus transfers and check-in times!

My medication is supplied by Healthcare at Home and one of their pharmacists was very helpful in advising me on carrying the Humira correctly.  He recommended a case, the iCool Prestige storage bag, which has been tested to maintain the correct temperature for 24 hours.  He said I don't have to check on it or anything, just fill it properly and that's it.
So, I ordered an iCool bag (sounds as if it's made by Apple, which appealed to me!) and my journey unfolded like this:

09.15  Tuesday -  Humira and gel packs into the iCool bag, leave home

14.30  Tuesday -  Arrive at Heathrow hotel, Humira into their fridge, gel packs into their freezer

09.15  Wednesday - Humira and gel packs into the iCool bag, leave Heathrow hotel, fly to Singapore

Keep iCool bag on the plane with me, not in the hold

12.00 noon local time Thursday - arrive  at Singapore hotel,  Humira into their fridge, gel packs into their freezer

14.00 Friday - Humira and gel packs into the iCool bag, leave Singapore hotel, fly to Auckland, New Zealand 

Keep iCool bag on the plane with me, not in the hold

13.00 local time Saturday  - Arrive at BiL's, Humira into his fridge, gel packs and iCool bag cleaned and put away for another adventure.

Calculating the time differences the Humira was out of the fridge for 5 hours 15 minutes for the first leg of the journey, 20 hours for the second leg and 18 hours for the final leg, all well within the promised 24 hour capacity of the iCool bag. 

There were a couple of notes to add to that account, good news and not so good news.  The not so good first:

On arrival in the hotel in Singapore I had to be very explicit and repeat my instructions about the gel packs going into the freezer and the Humira into the fridge, initially it seemed likely the whole lot would end up in the freezer. One member of the reception staff then refused to put the Humira in the fridge saying they couldn't store food and medication together but that there was a fridge in my room.  I went to my room and discovered that the fridge was nowhere near cool enough. Returning to Reception a different member of staff happily popped my Humira into the kitchen fridge.

And the good news? On boarding the plane at Heathrow I asked a crew member where would be the coolest area around where I was seated to put my iCool bag and explained about the medication.  Her reply was to put it in the fridge in the galley, returning it to me just before landing.  Got to love those "Singapore Girls", well done Singapore Airlines.

So things could have gone pear-shaped in Singapore, but I think I would have gone along to a nearby hotel or restaurant and hoped they would help.

The Humira would have been fine in the iCool bag on the planes but was even better off in the fridges.  

And, just to show that you can never think of every eventuality - on arrival in Auckland I discovered that a large part of the city was without electricity after a substation fire!  Fortunately my brother in law still had power!

If you are hoping to travel with Humira, good luck and I hope this account has been helpful.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Open Day at Country Roads Quilters

I think a good time was had by all at Country Roads Quilters' Open Day on Tuesday.  In addition to our usual programme of coffee, chat and stitching we had a visiting trader, Pippins Patchwork, and a talk from Karen Parry about John James needles.  As you can imagine, members and guests enjoyed the opportunity to shop and the expression "bees around a honeypot" was coined more than once in my hearing!
Karen brought a good selection of John James' needles for sale (at very good prices) and told us all about needle sizes and types and about the manufacturing and distribution of needles.  The company used to make the sweetest etui sets of needles, scissors etc, I imagine they would fetch a pretty penny in an antique shop.
Pippins Patchwork brought a good selection of fabrics and notions, including a lot of Christmas goodies.  Is it really that time of year already?
After lunch we had a super "show and tell", a lot of members had been very busy over the Summer break, and then we held our AGM.
As a result of Karen's talk I have a question for you:

How often do you change your needle (hand or machine)?

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Elderberry Results

Here are the pieces I dyed with elderberries and elderberry leaves now they are dry.  I am really pleased with the results. The black spots on the bottom left cotton piece below are the result of a mould growing in my dye bath. Oops. I think they look interesting but can anyone tell me if the mould could be nasty, even though the fabric has been washed?
This last one is my favourite, the fabric is very fine recycled kimono lining silk.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Nature's Riches

I rinsed out all my elderberry dyeing this morning, leaves and berries on various fabrics. 
The leaves gave a woody green, much paler on the silk. The berries gave a rainbow from pink to purple.
These are still wet, I'll post pictures of the best results when they are dry.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Prayer Flags

I have received all the Prayer flags from the latest Global Piecers' swap and here they are together:
This was a quick set up for a photograph, what I intend to do is add the one I made Al for his 70th birthday and the one I made for myself. All seven flags will then be properly strung in the garden rather than quickly pegged to a cane.
Thank you Sandy, Carol, Sal, Ros and Teresa, I love them all.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Journal for New Zealand

Today I have been doing a variety of crafty things.  
I made up a dye bath using elderberries, it is maturing at the moment.  The colour looks glorious but the dye is apparently quite weak and fades rapidly in sunlight.  While the dye bath looks a rich purple red the fabric may end up being a pale silver lilac. Such is the unpredictability of natural dyeing.
I have also been doing some more surprise stitchery....
And finally, I have been setting out fabric scraps to make a journal cover for my next trip to New Zealand.  It feels a little odd to be using commercial fabrics again but the Kiwiana range is glorious.  I shall hand stitch the journal cover in a similar style to the prayer flags I made and the visitor book cover I made for the Bach. 
The nights are drawing in and it feels very much like Autumn, I am certainly doing more sewing than gardening although Al's veggies are still producing quite prolifically. 

Monday, 1 September 2014


Just seeing whether I can blog from my Kindle ...

If this works it will be easier than using my phone to write posts when I am travelling.