We have really enjoyed your feature ‘postcards from..’ and thought you might like to receive one from our boat!
Cliff and I decided last year that a big house and a big mortgage were not a priority any more, so we sold up and moved out of the city to Starcross, a village on the edge of the River Exe estuary in Devon – a smaller house but a bigger boat! The boat, Courtesy of the Exe, is moored about a quarter of a mile out in the river from our house and it takes about 15 minutes from deciding to go out to being out! Since our move Cliff’s transplant unfortunately came to the end of its life in March this year and CAPD is now the order of the day again – as it was thirteen years ago. Cliff got back into the swing of things with his daily CAPD routine in time for the start of the boating season and we began to plan our free time. Back in the days before his transplant we tried hard not to let the dialysis prevent us from leading a normal life and I remember Cliff doing bag exchanges in the car in lay-bys during his working day as a driving instructor and even on long journeys dialysing while I drove (funny looks from some motorists!). Anu, our home care nurse, kindly provided us with a travel bag to keep his fluids warm and we were all set.
Our boat is a 24 foot Tamar 2000. It has two big 12 volt batteries, one of which is equipped with cigarette lighter sockets to take the travel bag’s plug and it works a treat.. We have a locker with all Cliff’s bits and bobs and the cabin is quite roomy enough for him to be comfortable and put his feet up as necessary. We checked with the unit and we were told that as long as his weight remains relatively stable, there is no need to weigh all his bags or himself for up to a week or so, so we have not bothered to bring scales with us, but everything else just packs into a cool bag or rucksack.
So far we have had several days out fishing, heading out of the estuary and down the coast in either direction. The coastline of East and South Devon is absolutely spectacular and there is nothing to beat the sense of peace and freedom being on the water brings. We are members of the Starcross Fishing and Cruising Club and we have benefited ENORMOUSLY from the support and camaraderie of fellow members. Our more recent excursions have seen us sleep overnight on our own mooring, waking up just after dawn to the sound of water lapping all around us and a perfect still day. More recently still we have escaped to Brixham for a couple of nights.
We do understand how important it is that cleansing routines are adhered to and that regular times are observed. One Saturday evening recently while we were moored up at Brixham, an invitation from our friends to join them for drinks on their boat coincided with Cliff’s need to do a bag exchange, but after checking with our hosts and once he had made his connection, he just went ahead with it in the cockpit of their boat, hanging his bag on a handy hook above his head and participating in the conversation, and the wine, with the rest of us! He works on the principle that the more open he is about it and the more people get used to seeing it done, the less embarrassing it becomes.
We would say that for us personally, the boat has been our saving grace. It is jolly hard work, more often than not for me, but the pay off is priceless to us. It has given us something to focus on through the emotional times when the transplant was failing, and even now when little health blips occur, as we all know they will from time to time, it has taken us out of ourselves and Cliff’s illness. I would say to anyone reading this who is going through kidney failure, if you can find something you love to do, DO IT. Don’t let the illness stop you. If your chosen thing really is too challenging, find something else! It’s kept us sane, truly!
Love from Gabi and Cliff Humphries
The National Kidney Federation cannot accept responsibility for information provided. The above is for guidance only.