Health on the road is too big of a subject for one post, so I will be doing a whole series on health issues while abroad. We have lots of tales to tell about travel health and have gathered extensive first hand experience.
Just like at home, we have been almost always very healthy on our family world trip, now going on our 6th year to 42 countries on 5 continents. Most of our fears and concerns before leaving were unfounded and we haven't even used our first aid kit except a few bandaids to cover kidlet's mosquito bites to keep her from scratching them. We rarely get a cold even and I don't think we've had any flu during this time.
Doctors always seem surprised that despite edging towards 60, neither DaVinci or I are on any regular medication. Even with my excess weight, my blood pressure, pulse, cholesterol etc are lower and better than many skinny folks in their twenties.
We do our best to eat well and exercise daily, don't smoke, rarely drink, think positively, do daily prayer and meditation and luckily just the walking and time in nature with this lifestyle benefits us. Both my parents are in their mid 80's and in relatively good health (my mom in excellent, fit health) and I grew up with 4 great grandparents, so good longevity genes help.
But we are in our 50's and our extremely energetic child was 5 when we began and now is almost 11, so few go this long or far without one problem whether they stay at home or travel. We've had a few travel health disasters like my landing in the hospital in a foreign land, needing surgery in a hospital where almost no one spoke English. a paralyzed dominant arm for a year, needing physical therapy in several countries and almost bleeding to death in Prague and Vienna.
I crushed my knee and broke my femur 17 years ago and despite surgery by one of the best orthopedic surgeons in the world ( 49er doc Dillingham), that leaves me with mobility challenges. My knee use to dislocate regularly by simple things like rolling over in bed while asleep and be out for months leaving me unable to walk and in great pain, thus in a wheel chair and crutches.
Sadly, it went out this winter in Penang ( something it has not done in 11 years) but luckily by working with a local healer recommended by friends ( and being on prayer lists), taking the Chinese medicine he gave me, I was miraculously better in a few days.
We've also had dental emergencies abroad and a child injury emergency in Spain. I've had emergency room visits and tests or EKG's in rural Greece, UK, Austria, Spain and Malaysia. Kidlet got a tick bite and doctor visit in Sweden and I've gotten my teeth cleaned in Croatia. DaVinci has had major dental work done in Spain. We've done acupuncture in Penang, Barcelona and Malaga area. Not fun, but we learned and gained experience from it all. We always got good care and it was MUCH cheaper than at home in the USA.
The photos here were taken in the pool, sauna and spa area where we are staying in Barcelona and where I spend several hours a day ( as well as another outdoor salt water pool that overlooks the sea). The latter is just cold water, but I try to take an hour's dip at sunset and I do my spa routine in the morning after breakfast and a little work.
I've been dealing with a very odd digestion problem since last May when I took an antibiotic for a gum infection given to me by my Danish Dentist in Andalusia. ( When Mozart was 4 she accidentally almost knocked out my front tooth while jumping on the bed and thus I have a fragile tooth there). For some odd reason, I discovered in Penang ( thanks to McComb Candida plan) that the sauna/pool/whirlpool etc seems to sooth my digestive problems as does acupuncture so I am doing that again.
I have been to MD GI specialists in Spain and Penang and much has been ruled out via medical and blood tests ( no infection, no kidney stones or problems, no pancreatic problem, no tumors, no liver problems, no gaul bladder problems or stones, no spleen problems etc etc etc). I don't have symptoms for ulcers, diverticulitis, Chrones disease, colitis, IBD, Celiac, GERD, reflux, etc etc.
It is a strange thing that seems to come and go and part of my problem has been my travel schedule because I haven't been able to complete treatment with one doctor. I've tried acupuncture in the past for other things, but was never thrilled with it, yet it seems to work better than anything so far, with this mysterious malady.
I finally found a great Chinese acupuncturist in Penang who specialized in gastric and internal medicine area who helped a lot, but I had to leave before I was 100%. That got me through Bhutan, Jordan and much of Spain, but I had some problems again in Barcelona and found an acupuncturist here who is helping. It gets scary when it is bad, but the fact that it does get better is encouraging, although I certainly would love to have the mystery solved and be done with it.
I know some great alternative practitioners in California that I will work with when I get there and also probably do more tests at Stanford while home to rule out things and try to figure out how to cure this once and for all. I plan to do a breath test here in Spain for H.Pylori just to eliminate that possibility even though it does not fit my symptoms.
The blessing in disguise with this is that I have lost weight because I can hardly eat anything so have been pretty much living on goat yogurt this summer. One of my big goals this year is to lose the excess weight and get healthier. ( I have lost 100 lbs twice in my left and maintained the loss for many years, but am clearly still working on this issue).
One of the secrets that has helped us stay healthy is I have some great online resources for health. I am a nurse who worked for years in ICU and other areas of medicine ( from a family with 5 nurses and one dentist) so I have great respect for Allopathic Medicine for some areas, but being the free thinker that I am, I've also used many alternative medicine modes over the last 50 years and have had great cures and results when using conventional Western medicine could not help me. We prefer to work in a holistic manner if at all possible.
HERE ARE SOME OF OUR "SECRET" RESOURCES THAT HAVE HELPED US OVER THE YEARS OF TRAVEL Babinetics
All of these people are wonderful and have been a great help to us online or via Skype calls during our travels and several have ordered or suggested natural herbs or protocols that have helped us greatly. Many we have known for many years ( up to 30 years), Bertrand Babinet is our child's Godfather, Jeff McCombs treated our child as a baby, I've known Michael Hayes forever and Letty is one of my dearest friends.
I first met dear Diana Zaheer when our children were toddlers via a gifted group in San Francisco ( before either of us knew we'd be raising such global kids); met lovely Aprylisa through amazing long time blog reader and online friend Margaret Scheirman who introduced us; Letty introduced us to Dr. Ba who works with us via pictures of our tongue ( Chinese method) sent by email and information ( allopathic method) and has some miraculous products ( some pioneered in Russia).
I will be going into more details in the near future, but I think you can see friends and connections are part of the secret to health. I use to host internationally reknown healers at my home in Santa Cruz, so have access to many.
I also want to acknowledge Mariana Calleja who is both an MD and a travel writer at TravelThirst who graciously took time recently to answer questions about my current medical disturbance. Dr Marc Darrow is also an old friend and someone I may visit when we are in California as I've heard great things about his pain therapy results. Both are MD's with openness about alternative therapies which I appreciate.
I will be writing more about health while traveling once we get back to Asia this winter and I have more time. What questions do you have and what do you most want to know about travel health or health in general? Have you had any health resources that have helped you?
dealing with travel medical emergencies, digital nomad health, health issues while abroad, health on the road, health tips, location independent health, secrets to health, staying healthy while traveling, Travel health, travel health issues
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