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Taking Enbrel on holiday

I recently got back from a week in Italy. Nothing unusual about that, except this was my first week abroad for three years and the first time I’d travelled with medication that needs to be kept between 2˚C and 8˚C. Going by train seemed an easier option than by plane. Although I carried a letter explaining that Enbrel shouldn’t go through the x-ray scanner, my medical case still had to be scanned separately with a special hand-held gadget. Keeping Enbrel cool didn’t worry me too much as it was packed securely with a special freezer pack and spacer so the syringes didn’t touch the pack directly. Following a rather long train journey to Paris and then through France and north Italy to Milan, we checked in to a hotel. The staff were fabulous and offered to put the freezer pack in their freezer and the Enbrel syringes in their fridge, as the room fridges weren’t cool enough. The next day we took another train to Como, then hired a car, which my sister drove up to a village on the west side of Lake Como. I’d repacked the Enbrel and as soon as we got to the villa I put it in the fridge. The only slightly stressful thing was that the fridge didn’t have a stable temperature so we kept having to adjust it. Luckily we’d brought two fridge thermometers so we used those to check and modify the temperature on a daily basis to keep it within the 2˚C and 8˚C range. At the end of the trip, I handed in my travel sharps bin to a pharmacy at Milan station. Not much point in bringing it back to the UK when it could be incinerated there!

Although the logistics of carrying and storing Enbrel across Europe were a bit difficult, having done it once I know I can do it again. Importantly, it will be easier next time. Going on holiday while continuing treatment is possible, rather than missing a couple of weeks’ Enbrel to the detriment of my joints and overall health. Best of all, once I’d injected each time, I was able to get on with going on scenic boat rides, relaxing by the stunning lake, and eating delicious ice-cream in flavours like fig, peach and hazelnut. Most of the time I wasn’t thinking about rheumatoid disease or other health problems because I was so busy enjoying the beautiful scenery of Lake Como.

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