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Oliver Patterson, 12 years old, holds a trophy he earned as being first in his class chosen this semester as Student of the Week, for “determination to progress in all areas”! Oliver, a Variant MSUD, attends school in Qatar while living there with his family.
How do you travel across the world to a vastly different country with a child that has MSUD? With VERY careful planning and the help of many people. It was a big decision to move to Qatar as we did 2 years ago. It was a lifestyle decision. We wanted to show our then 9 1/2 year old twins Oliver (Variant MSUD), and Eric that there is a big world out there, and from small town Canada, this was not always easy.

The planning was a nightmare, and without the good people from The Calgary Children’s Hospital, the move would not have been possible at all. Our dietitian sat down with me and gave me a crash course in calculating formula. Oliver takes his formula via a G-tube, and the little crate that we shipped was full of his supplies: 3 pumps, 100 feeding bags for the pump, syringes, a year’s worth of low protein flour, formula and the usual paraphernalia. I also contacted a physician in Saudi Arabia before the move to make sure that sufficient expertise is available in this part of the world should Oliver get sick.

Living and traveling here is interesting, and we have also traveled extensively since our move. As a family, we have visited Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tanzania, India (that trip gave me some concern) and Egypt. Two summers were spent traveling 7 weeks each through Germany and Austrian and one week in Paris. No problems so far (other than I got REALLY, REALLY sick in India. Oliver was fine!). Everywhere we go, there are french fries or some sort of other potatoes and rice. I pre-bake the bread and brownies and take then from hotel freezer to hotel freezer. The hotel and kitchen staff has been always exceptionally accommodating. In Tanzania, the young waiter and the dining room supervisor were absolutely aghast at the sight of the g-tube and his dietary limitations and took it upon themselves to come up with the best alternatives to what we were eating. They really rose to this challenge.

Oliver’s level of control has been good. We do not get very many blood tests done as they come 4 weeks late or not at all, so I have to judge a lot by his actions. I am very careful with his diet. Another difference is the expense. In Canada, the Government paid the aid for Oliver. Here, we foot the bill.

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