Traveling While Sick or With Health/ Medical Challenges
October 24, 2012
Who doesn't love the excitement and exhilarating benefits of travel? A vacation abroad can fill you with euphoria and memories that last a life time. But what if you are sick? If you have a health, mobility or medical problem, travel... especially international travel... can be much more problematic.
Last year, we had to cancel our trip to Romania and we had to cancel another flight from California to Asia due to my health just being too bad to travel ( picked that flight up again in few months so kidlet wasn't too too late returning to her Mandarin school). The lead picture is my "medicine drawer" filled with supplements we brought with us...still traveling light with just a carry-on bag each, but one was jammed packed with medicine and we had to leave other things behind because of it all.
Now we have a trip scheduled to China and I still have travel health issues. Recently a friend just returned from China and they and half their group had health problems, but another two friends have been there a year with no problem. Will I be able to make it? I hope so!
The massive antibiotics given to me during that surgery, then more by my Danish dentist in Spain in May 2010, created a severe health problem
for me, so not only have I seen the best M.D.'s and alternative healers
on three continents, taken endless tests, but have learned tremendous amounts about health and travel. Yes, it is possible to travel when ill, but it's a different kind of travel and life.
My brother didn't even think we should have ever started our world trip as he thought I should stay home and lose weight. Good point, but I don't see why I can't get fit while traveling and I wouldn't have missed all these amazing experinces and time together for all the world. I have been losing weight but science shows that fat people can be as healthy as thin people, so I just keep working on my health and getting all of us even healthier.
I don't talk much about the pain and suffering that I have been going through since that bike accident in 2009, but it's had a profound affect on me, our whole family and our travels. I've pretty much been in constant pain and that takes a toll on all of us, but we do our very best to keep a positive focus and deep gratitude that it's not worse. I think I am making progress, but it is a slow road with daily ups and downs. I tend to wake up early from the pain, but after taking a few supplements, I am doing fairly good most mornings finally, but the afternoons and evenings tend to be much worse on me. My energy and pain levels are mostly much better than they were when I was in California.
I just turned 60 this year, but this illness often makes me feel and act like I am in my nineties. Science tells us that the digestive tract is energy intense and requires one third of our daily energy supply to function normally. Thus, I deal with lots of fatigue, liver and pancreas problems, inflammation, toxicity etc along with the constant pain and still have trouble eating almost anything so on a VERY restricted diet.
I was rocked to my core when two of my dear friends and father died suddenly recently and then read that the darling young mother of another traveling family that did a years travel the same year we began, died recently of stomach cancer, leaving her daughter about Mozart's age, three sweet sons and beloved husband. I am not ready to go yet, so I am fighting as hard as I can to get healthy again and will never take my health for granted in the future.
Being this ill for so long and working as hard as we have to get well 24/7 for three years now, gives one a deep focus on what is important and essential in life. It is never easy being this ill for so long and travel just makes it more complicated, so we're even more into slow travel. I can do less, but we make the most of what I CAN do, like this photo shows of Mozart and I in the pool after I just got a healing massage. Penang is a great place to heal because there is lots of organic food, good hospitals and wonderful Chinese Medicine and alternative things at good prices.
The hardest thing about traveling when you are sick is because it takes you out of the routine and if one has the kind of food restrictions I live with, just finding what I can eat can be very hard. I made it through Bhutan, Jordan and Spain while still ill, so I am trusting that all will go well in China. Luckily, I have a local friend there who can guide me if I should need it and he is a Tai Chi master so maybe that will be a new therapy that will help me.
Perhaps the biggest key for traveling while medically challenged is to prepare ahead and do less. I can see one of the benefits of this illness for me is it teaches me, ...actually forces me ...to do less. I tend to be a type A who wants to do too much. Now I just can't and that can be a benefit really. Listening to your body and finding a gentler way to do things and letting everything but the essential go.
I am like that kid who sees the manure and looks for the pony. I always like to keep my focus on seeing the blessing that is unfolding. As someone who has always been healthy as a horse, this has been a BIG challenge for me, perhaps the biggest in my life, ( and I have had many biggies) because it has gone on so long, despite my endless work on finding a cure. Still, I know it is here for a reason, so I try to make the most of it. Certainly, I do get frustrated at times and feel bad at how it impacts my husband and child, but I am very tenacious by nature and I am determined to take everything to my advantage...including this. Good news, it makes us work even better as a team and count our blessings.
"The first wealth is health." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Have you ever traveled when you were sick, mobility challenged or medically challenged? What were the keys that worked best for you? How did you deal with the fear that comes up about being in a foreign place if things get bad? How do you handle food restrictions?