Category: Kidney dialysis

It’s been a week!..Blog #98

I have a renewed appreciation and respect for people who chose to pack up and move to another country for a temporary, or extended time to embrace working from anywhere. Our son has coined the phrase “lifestyle travelling”, meaning, you operate with a different lens, and open yourself up to the sorts of risks one would normally face, but you expand that to the “open road”. That’s what my husband and I are doing, he’s retired and I’m continuing my extended study leave. However, to say our first week had some hurdles would be an understatement. We have faced multiple challenges that make it hard to believe we only arrived 6 days ago! I know someday we’ll look back on this and laugh…but not yet.

Rather than giving you the ‘glass half empty’ story, I’ll focus on the ‘glass half full’ perspective.

  • (Luggage lost for 5 days) Our clothes did arrive, eventually, delivered right to our door with an apology. It felt like Christmas! No need to for a replacement wardrobe. We have been planning this trip for over a year, and had purchased clothing that would layer well and be versatile for the 8 months in Europe. Much as shopping for a new wardrobe may be fun, we were really happy with our own selection. 
  • (Supplies in lost luggage) The pharmacists here in Lisbon are great, helping us choose the best products, closest to what my husband uses at home. Full marks for them! 
  • (Medical support equipment breaking) Baxter, our supplier for all things dialysis, has gone above and beyond for us. Truly a life-line! If you want to study what great customer service looks like across borders, look no further. 
  • (Limited power in the apartment) We are learning to be more intentional in our use of electricity…limit it, or loose it! And we are good with that. 
  • (Cave like lighting) Because of the lack of natural light in our place, we are spending a great deal of time outdoors, exploring Lisbon and finding third spaces to soak in the Vitamin D while getting reading and research done. 
  • Through all of these ’bumps’ our hostess has been over the top amazing! As many great hospitality stars AirBnB gives, she deserve twice as much! And, 
  • (Language) Google Translate has become my constant companion. We had planned on learning some Portuguese and Spanish before leaving Canada, but time got away from us. We are also so impressed with the graciousness of the Portuguese people—they are so hospitable in speaking English, even apologizing for not speaking fluent enough! The most Portuguese we can manage is ‘obrigada’, a word we have been called on to use more times in a week than imaginable. 

Lisbon is an incredible city. Every day we set out in a different direction to see what we can find and are loving the surprizes around each corner. We are staying up close to São Jorge Castle, so every direction we go seems to be up, then down, then up…you get the picture. 

As we’ve been experiencing the unexpected this week, I am reminded of the research Nathan and I published in 2019. The focus was on remote workers competencies for success, our attention being from a work context. Possessing those competencies goes well beyond working. If you choose to be a remote worker working from anywhere, or even working a more hybrid model, I would suggest the competencies identified need to be present to simply do life in such settings. The freedom to work and live anywhere is a gift and privilege to be treasured, but it also comes with responsibility — personal and professional, to make things work. It’s not easy to pack up and go to a different country to pursue such an adventure. We thought through all the possible scenarios of what might happen and were fairly confident we had contingency plans in place. We still were not fully prepared. When you pack up and leave, you are not only leaving your home with all the conveniences, you are leaving your support network—social, family, and medical. To be sure, you can reach out via text, email, or phone if necessary (but you need to first get that new EU sim card purchased), but with 8 hours time difference (for us anyways), they may be fast asleep when you are in the middle of it all. We are fortunate to have our son and family living in Europe, but they are not where we are. We have travelled to Europe several times, but this is not a vacation. I was born in Europe, but I left as a young teen. This is all so different.

Do we regret the decision to take this journey? Not for a moment! Would we recommend it to others? Without a doubt! Is it as easy as we anticipated? Not the first week! But there is so much more adventure to come.

Stay tuned. 

Portugal…here we come! Blog #97

It’s finally time!

As I write this blog, we are on the first leg of our journey from Canada to Portugal…I can hardly believe it has now become a reality. Just a year ago my proposal for an Extended Study Leave was granted, and our plans for the year began to take shape. There have been changes, adaptations, and many workarounds, but we did it; our eight month adventure in Europe has officially begun.

Looking back over the past year, we have had many hurdles to overcome. The original plan was to be in Europe for 12 months, visit at least 5 countries, and basically live life as digital nomads while I researched and interviewed around the topic of leading hybrid teams. You know the saying…the best laid plans… Well the goal remained the same, but the plan changed. A combination of the pandemic and kidney failure (for my husband), greatly tested our resolve to step out on this journey, but here we are! For the next 8 months we will split our time between Portugal and Spain, with a short visit to Finland, and perhaps…? Some plans are still fairly fluid.

Besides the many things I have already learned from my research (I’m setting those learning aside for this blog), I have a whole new appreciation for people choosing to travel and live abroad for an extended time. We watched our son and family pack up their 6 children and make the move to my home country of Ireland, and as a young teenager I immigrated with my parents and siblings from Ireland to Canada. I had, at least I thought I had, a good understanding of the process; was I ever wrong.   

It turns out there is no guidebook for what we are doing. Nor are there people in certain levels of governments who can give you the playbook for travelling to another country for 8 months. Don’t get me wrong, most of the folks I interacted with wanted to be helpful, and even tried, but nothing seemed to be as straightforward as one would think. 

 Born in Ireland, living in Canada, I have both an EU passport and a Canadian one…very handy. Early spring it was brought to our attention that my husband needed to have a visa to travel to Europe because of the length of our stay (I was even told that I needed one as well…hmmm). So we started the application process. Do you know how difficult and frustrating it is to find information on a website from a country that’s not your own, nor shares the same language? After many emails and phone calls, a lovely person at the Portuguese Consulate finally looked at the site and admitted, “Oh yes, that is rather confusing, isn’t it?” You see, there isn’t an option for our situation. I’m not going to Europe to work, my husband is retired, we are not travelling for medical reasons, I’m not providing training and development, we aren’t going to volunteer, nor am I going to further my education. Without making a selection, you don’t get access to the portal where the necessary documents can be uploaded and an appointment made. So, I had to choose something, and they would ‘fix’ it later. To make a really long story short, after a trip to the Consulate, more conversations, it turns out my husband didn’t need the visa we were seeking, but rather has to go through a totally different process once in Europe. We laugh about it now…but then, not so much. I do want to say that the young gentleman we eventually worked with at the consulate was great…it was certainly a learning process for all involved.

Covid also presented many challenges for travel, all also overcome. I never realized how many people you could call to find out the proper process, testing, timing, locations, without finding anyone who would give a definitive answer. Again, easy to laugh at now…but I can assure you, my Irish came out full force at times.

The other hurdle we were forced to deal with was my husband’s newly diagnosed need for on-going kidney dialysis. We are overwhelmed with the support provided by his medical team, our local hospital (Kelowna General Hospital)), solution provider (Baxter), client support, and government funding for the treatment Rob has received. Mind blowing to say the least! However, traveling overseas when one is required to hook up to dialysis each and every night is not a common practice. This, we learned, is new territory. Not to be defeated, we started asking questions, reading, seeking input, making phone calls, and came to discover that, while not without great effort, it is possible. So with dialysis cycler and transformer, extra solution for ‘just in case’, way more suitcases than our previous ‘carryon only’ travel mode, here we are.

Without the help and support of an amazing family, great friends, a fantastic medical team, and the opportunity to take time away from teaching at Okanagan College School of Business to entrench myself in research, we would not be 30,000 plus feet in the air, filled with excitement for what this adventure holds.

I hope you’ll follow along with our journey.

PS We are now safely in Lisbon…unfortunately our luggage didn’t make it! Decided it wanted to stay in Toronto 🤷‍♀️. Stay tuned!