Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On the Road: Dealing with Illness

Open bottles of Extra Strength Tylenol and Ext...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Every fall, news stories have stressed the extent of the current flu epidemic and the precautions the public should take to avoid the illness. Nothing is worse than being on a trip and feeling lousy, but sometimes it can be more than that. While most people will consult a physician when they become ill, those same people will not look for a doctor if they become sick while on vacation.

I have been really lucky that in all the years I have been taking long trips, I have encountered a situation that required medical attention only one time. In 2012 while I was in California,  I experienced intense pain and I thought I would just tough it out until I returned home. Over-the-counter pain relievers helped a little, but did not solve the situation. Finally, I saw a doctor and received a prescription and thought that was the end of the problem. Since I felt better, I thought everything was fine, but my medical condition was still not handled. Two months later when I returned home, I was taken in for a medical emergency. My doctor lectured me about how close I had come to losing my life.

Even though I knew I was not myself, I let it slide because I was away from home. I ignored the importance of the pain and dismissed the episodes of dizziness and near fainting as side effects of dehydration. Sometimes I would have no energy for days, but I never looked at it as a warning sign.

Before I left on vacation I let my doctor's office know I was going to be away for an extended time. I checked with them for any special methods of contact in case of illness. In addition, I contacted my insurance company to make sure I understood what steps needed to be taken when securing medical assistance while out of the usual provider area. If I planned on staying in one location for an extended period of time, I made sure I knew where the nearest or best hospital was located and if it had a contract with my insurance provider.

Since I felt so healthy on the 2013 trip, I realized more than ever how ill I had been on last one. An illness such as the flu can knock travelers off their feet, but not all ailments will do that. My advice is not to tough it out and get help when you are not feeling well while on a trip!!
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