Monday, August 8, 2011

Traveling with a Chronic Illness

I recently spent a week in the Chicago area for a family vacation.  Traveling can be complicated with having a chronic illness.  Not just from the perspective of all the extra medication and equipment I have to travel with, but also from the perspective of how traveling affects my illness.  On the way home from this trip, I couldn't help but reflect on all the different aspects vacation can have on my health and well being.  Here are some thoughts, some specifically related to this last trip.

1. The weather- the hot and humid conditions of the mid-west right now where unfamiliar and uncomfortable. The humidity felt like it added a weight to my chest.  I wouldn't say it was hard to breathe, but it just felt I had a weight on my chest or something.  Also, due to the heat I had to pay extra attention to drinking water to keep from dehydrating.

2. Sinuses-on the flip side, my sinuses did really good in the Chicago weather.  I'm guessing the extra moisture in the air kept my nasal passageways moist and hydrated.  Within 12 hours of being home, my sinuses returned to being dry and stuffy.

3. Diet- I have the worst diet while in Chicago: beef sandwiches, ribs, pizza, burgers, and hot dogs.  I feel like all we do is eat while we are there.  The food is so good it seems worth it.  But at the same time, I never get the nutrition my body needs while I am there and I notice a difference in the way I feel.

4. Exercise- I usually do good with at least trying to walk a couple times while on vacation.  But I actually thought the weather conditions made it dangerous to exercise outside, so I didn't do much the whole week...unless you count playing Corn Holes.

5. Traveling with Medications- I have not encountered problems traveling with medications, except the hassle of having extra stuff to tow along.  I learned that TSA like to for the nebulizer to be out of the bag for x-ray inspection.  Otherwise, its pretty easy to take everything along.  I always carry on my medication too.  I have a fear of my checked bags being lost.  Which has happened to me three times. 

6. Treatments- I have been compliant with treatments while on vacation.  I find doing everything in the morning helps, that way its out of the way and I can just enjoy the day without thinking about it.  I do not, however, travel with the VEST.  At this point in my life, it is not worth lugging around.  I do the VEST to be compliant with doctor recommendations...but I don't really think it makes a huge difference with my health.  So I just give myself the break while traveling. 

7. Sleep- I love all the extra sleep I get while on vacation.  During this trip, there where some days when I had to set the alarm and get up early, but for the most part I was getting around 9 to 10 hours of sleep a night.  And I felt great!  I didn't feel tired at all this trip.  Didn't even take a nap.  But after being home for 24 hours, I went right back into feeling like a zombie by 7 pm after working and going to the gym. 

8. Germs- Airports and airplanes are dirty and germy.  I am always paranoid that I will end up sick while on vacation due to the exposure to germs while traveling.  This trip went great, no illness.  Not even post vacation.