September Cincinnati Trip - Day 12
It was around day six that Emily and I realized our experience here in Cincinnati has had similarities to a Christian mission trip. Too few people for the work. The lack of sleep. Long hours spent helping someone. An inability to get a shower daily. Difficult living conditions. That last one is what I want to write about before our trip comes to an end. The subtitle for this post could be: Five Hotel Hacks for Parents of Medically Fragile Children or How to Make a Hotel More Like a Home or Kim's End of the Stay Rant. Title it as you see fit after reading.
As of tomorrow when I check out, I will have stayed eighteen of the last forty nights in a hotel. I know that is nothing for the average business traveler. Some travel for a whole week every week. Hotels are designed and furnished for them. Executive Desks. Office Chairs. Televisions in every room. WiFi. USB ports on lamps. I might be impressed if I was here awake for a few hours in the morning and evening, but spent most of my time at a job elsewhere. But my job does not happen easy at a hotel. After twenty-some years of motherhood primarily in a home setting, I have felt like a fish out of water living in a hotel so much. Here's how I tried to make it work. Yes, Lowe's was the one store we went to more than once.
1. Ratchet Clamps
I mentioned in a post last week that the bed arrangement for Nathaniel was not what I expected. Ratchet clamps was my answer for attaching the bed rail that I brought to the couch. So thankful for my years of experience being a landscape company momma. I know how to use ratchet clamps.
2. Wash Clothes and Plastic as Vent Covers
Someone was smoking in our non-smoking hotel. (Don't do that. It ruins other guests' day.) The smoke and odor came into our room through the vent in the bathroom. Cigarette smoke and odor is horrible for a trach kiddo. (Well, just about everyone, right?) The hotel's solution was to spray strong fragrance to cover the smell. Strong fragrance is horrible for a trach kiddo, too. If this ever happens to you at the same time that the Kroger convention is in town filling every other hotel room in the city, here's the solution: Shove a wash cloth in the vent and tape a plastic bag over the whole thing. Medical tape holds through hot showers by the way.
3. An Air Purifier
Ok. I went overboard on trying to get rid of that cigarette odor. I went back to Lowe's and bought an air purifier. But in my defense, Emily was sneezing and wiping her nose and Nathaniel was just trying to hold his own against the post-surgery pain, and I could not move rooms within this hotel or to another. Believe me. I tried. But Oh. My. Word. I do not think I will ever stay in a hotel without one of these again. Yes. It is the size of a suitcase. But I probably have at least a ton of luggage traveling with this child, so what is one more suitcase?
My floor to knee to small-of-the-back measurement is not executive sized. I fought that office chair for days, and then I finally gave in and bought a footstool. It made such a difference in my comfort while I rocked and comforted Nathaniel. This is coming with me on all future trips as well. "At least I bought one that folds, right?" says Kim to the groupies who haul her stuff in and out of vans and hotels.
5. Using the Hotel Breakfast as a Grocery Store
I mentioned in a previous post about trying to eat sensibly in an environment that easily lends itself to not making good food choices. But I realized quickly that I should not not pass up that breakfast altogether. Grabbing a carton of milk each day allowed Emily to make some iced coffee for her night shift. Other good things to take in the morning for snacking: hard boiled eggs (eat the whites!) fresh fruit, and single serve peanut butter. There is a McDonald's in our parking lot. We have been here twelve days and have not been there once. Emily, Nathaniel, and I fist bump over that one!
Bonus: Make It Like Home Where Possible (Photo at the top)
When we went to a park or on a walk, I tried to find something to add to our nature display on the table. More than once I walked past our collection and smiled. Bringing the outdoors in reminded me that though not ideal, this was our space where love and healing were happening. It was a space worth making beautiful. Salt shakers make good vases. Take those little salt packets from the breakfast room if you need salt.
You may note that I did not reveal which hotel we are using this week. We stayed in a mid-range suite hotel of a major chain. Which specific one does not matter. Like any mission trip, what mattered was what we did when we were faced with challenges. Yes, there were moments that seemed overwhelming. There were tears. And not just Nathaniel's. But there was also growth in endurance and a building of confidence - those things that mission trips are known to change in their participants.
Stay tuned. I am hoping to get one more post up before we leave tomorrow with some sweet photos we have taken of Nathaniel these last couple days.