Now you’ve reached down to the crunch time one week to the last minute before travel. Got everything? Let’s double-check. Print your FREE checklist and cross off everything you already have for your vacation.
1 week to few days prior to Last Minute check-in…
Medications: Pickup medications, vitamins and supplements. Your meds and order what you will need to take with you on vacation, plus, at least one extra week’s worth in case of emergencies, cancellations, or other unforeseen circumstances, etc. Remember, all medications must stay with you in your carry-on onboard flight, even prescription liquids over 100ml. Important to remember in case your luggage gets lost. All medications must be in the labelled bottle. Non-prescription liquids can be packed in your luggage
OTC (Over the Counter) Medications: Cold meds, throat lozenges, diarrhea and laxative meds, allergy meds or motion sickness/ altitude sickness meds, pain and fever relievers (children strength if needed).
First Aid Kit: The kind and size will depend on where and for how long you are travelling (bandages, gauze, adhesives, etc.)
Travel Thermometer: Small under the tongue thermometer is best to have. Make sure it works and the batteries still have juice.
Antibacterial Wipes and Hand Sanitizer: Remember Airplanes are one of the dirtiest and high-risk places to contract a cold. As soon as you get on the plane wipes down the area around you. Buttons, knobs, armrests, everything.
Protective Face Mask: It’s also a really good idea to wear your protective mask for the flight. I know sometimes it can be really uncomfortable with the stares, but its crazy to see how many people get off a plane and end up in doctor offices/hospitals with sickness. There are some really fashionable ones nowadays. I recommend Cambridge Masks. They are N99 Rated which means they block airborne bacteria and viruses, unlike Cambridge Masks that are more full larger pollution particles.
Wallet Med Card: Keep a card on you in your wallet at all times that lists your diagnosis’, meds and allergies. In the event you are not able to communicate with the medic or doctor it will be available for them. This also takes the pressure off your companion to try and remember what was on your list.
Hospitals & Emergency Clinics: Wherever you are going make sure you know the name and location of the closest hospital/medical clinic.
Sun Safety: Sunblock, reef safe is always the best to use for you and the environment. There are some great options for Reef Safe, clean sunblock products. However, as some of us are allergic to the sun (ie. Lupus patients) or others are very sun sensitive, you should seek a physical blocker that blocks both UVA and UVB and contains Mexoryl and has a 60SPF. Don’t forget your SPF lip balm, Sunglasses and Sun Hat. UV protective swimwear.
UV Umbrella Beach/Walking UV: Umbrellas are unto 30% underneath and provide extra sun protection
Mosquito Repellent: Afterbite, Mosquito Net. Check to see if Deet is allowed in the location you are going to. Sometimes, protective eco places do not allow you to use or Deet in order to preserve the environment.
Electrolytes Packs: Drinks/ Oral Rehydration Salts. Very important to have this on hand in case of dehydration or electrolyte depletion.
Heating Pad/Patches: Hot/cold gel, muscle pain relief cream. The patches are great to take on the plane and travelling if you have a sore back, stomach…anything. They stick right to your skin which allows you to be mobile while still having heat.
Glasses/Glasses Case and Contacts/Solution: (email yourself a copy of your prescription, just in case)
Tension Muscle Balls: Great for the plane or hotel room if you have sciatica or other muscle tension or knots that need to be worked out.
Download any Travel Apps: That would be useful to you in the country you are visiting. This can be really helpful for language, directions, taxi numbers, money conversion, transit maps, etc.
Revisit Previous Months/Weeks list: Ensure you have picked up everything required.
Pack Healthy Snacks: Especially if you have a complicated eating schedule/requirements to adhere to.
For Your Comfort: Comfy, stretchy clothes (multi-layers if you’re temperature sensitive), sweater, blanket, a hanging footrest that hooks up in the plane and releases tension in your knees, headphones, eye-mask, earplugs, travel pillow
Electronics: Cellphone, laptop, eBook, chargers, adapters for plane and hotels, headphones, camera, Go Pro, video recorder, memory card, speakers etc.
Entertainment: Books, magazines, a deck of cards, travel games.
Toiletries: Toothbrush, Floss, mouthwash, shampoo, conditioner, q-tips, hairbrush, hair products styling tools, perfumes, makeup, deodorant, shaving kits/razors, face & body moisturizer, sunscreen with SPF, facewash/makeup remover, feminine hygiene products, chapstick with SPF, tweezers, mini nail kit, mini sewing kit, travel towel, travel tide packs that allow you to wash clothing items in the sick and then hang to dry. Keep in mind hotels often provide many of these things. Toilet paper I would add to this depending on the country and areas you are travelling too.
Clothing: Lightweight clothing makes it easier to layer up, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters or fleece jacket, T-shirts and tank tops (be respectful of the culture you are visiting), pants and/or shorts, rain jacket, windbreaker or umbrella, pyjamas/sleepwear, underwear, socks, dresses and/or skirts, belt, comfortable walking shoes, indoor/outdoor slippers/flip-flops, shower shoes swimsuit/trunks, bandana or cooling towel.
Documents: Passport, visas, meds list, doctor’s letter(s), personal ID, health insurance card, travel insurance card, frequent flyer card, cash/credit cards, reservations, ticket all transportation tickets, hotel reservations, emergency contacts/address, guidebooks, maps. tourist information
Necessities to keep in your carry-on…
The post The Travel Checklist for Autoimmune Chronic Illness (Part 2 of 2) appeared first on The Broken Traveller.
Travel preparation can be an exciting & stressful time for those of us with chronic illness. All the worries and “what if’s” begin to flood your mind and it can become overwhelming.
Here, I’ve designed a printable “Fool-Proof Pre-Travel Timeline Checklist”. Be sure to keep an eye on timeframes as there is a bit of process in making sure you have everything together and ready for your vacation. This will help keep you organized and make sure you are within timeframes necessary before travel. As no two autoimmune or chronic illness patients are the same, some people may not require all of the things listed and vice versa. The idea is to make sure that you are medically prepared and safe for your trip. This pre-travel timeline focuses primarily on health and medical. Stay tuned as the “Last Minute Travel Checklist” will be following in the coming days ahead.
6 months prior…
Discuss and seek approval from your Doctor that it is safe for you to travel to the destination/activity of your choice: There could be many reasons for this. For example, if you are on work disability, they may require you have approval from your doctor to be able to leave the province, state or country. You may only be able to handle a short drive or flight, flying could be a risk to your heart health, travel insurance may not approve you or coverage for the destination you are planning to travel.
If approved, determine if any vaccines are required and check with your doctor and/or pharmacy to ensure you are safe to take them: For example, if you are immunocompromised you may not be able to take the vaccine. Allergies may be a concern or it may be too much of a risk to your health condition(s). Note: It is suggested to start this early as some vaccines such as Twinrix (Hepatitis A&B vaccine) is given in three doses over a span of 6 months.
Order or renew your passport if required: Check regulations, expiration, name changes, etc.
When purchasing flight tickets be sure that you have the option that allows you to make changes or cancel if needed: Some credit cards, in particular, travel credit cards, allows for many additional benefits when purchasing a trip. such as additional travel insurance, cancellation, delays, lost baggage insurance. A great bonus you should look into. Once your tickets have been purchased, book your book seat selection. The earlier you do this, the more likely you can take into consideration how close you are to the bathrooms, extra leg-room, or other medical requirements.
2 months prior…
Order your customized medical equipment: This can include compression sleeves or stockings, wrist or knee braces, custom insoles, wheelchair rental/purchase, sleep apnea equipment, etc.
Take measurements and order your protective face mask: You want to make sure your mask has a rating of at least N99. N99 protects you from breathing in airborne bacteria, viruses and other very small particles. N95 rated masks do not protect against bacteria or viruses. I highly recommend the Cambridge Face Masks that can be purchased from https://cambridgemask.com/or through Amazon.
2.5 weeks prior…
Visit your primary care physician: Make sure there have not been any changes to your health and ability to travel.
Organize and purchase your travel insurance: (if you do not have any private, group or credit card coverage) make sure to purchase the insurance coverage you need and for the entire length, plus a few days of travel. It’s important to know that the insurance company will cover you while at a specific destination you are travelling to. For example, if there is a travel warning to the destination, likely the insurance provider will not cover your trip.
Request a travel letter from your doctor: The letter should state your diagnosis’ and medications and should be dated, signed and/or stamped. Keep this letter with your meds in your carry-on luggage. You may also require a separate letter stating any necessary medical equipment you need to bring with you. If you are flying the airline can authorize you to carry onboard or in some circumstances may require you to check it in prior to flight.
Order Foreign Currency: If you are exchanging monies at the bank I would suggest doing this now as sometimes the banks have to order in the funds and there can be delays.
2 weeks prior…
Prescription Medications: Ask your doctor for any regular prescription refills that you may need, plus, at least 1 extra week. Also request, any prescription “travel meds” you may need in an urgent situation, for example, antibiotics for a respiratory infection or UTI, anti-fungal for candida infection, allergy meds, eye drops, hydrocortisone cream or antibacterial ointments, oral rinse for mouth sores and anything else you may need for your conditions. Your doctor can mark “For Travel” on the labels of meds.
Sleep medication/melatonin from your Naturopath or health food store: Request high-quality melatonin to help with jet lag and sleep issues while travelling. I find the drug store melatonin does nothing for me and I purchase high-quality liquid melatonin through the Naturopath clinic. I use Melo-Matrix Liquid Melatonin by Cyto-Matrix. If you take sleeping pills, bring them.
Airport Assistance: If you will need assistance at the airport (ie wheelchair, cart & luggage ride) this is the time to book it. Call the airline and have them add this to all your flight tickets. Add anything else you may need like seat selection for disability, medical equipment approval.
Make photocopies of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passports: In the event, your passport is lost or stolen you still have proof of who you are and what your passport looks like. Also smart to email yourself a copy of passport, identification and diagnosis, meds list, doctor’s letter for travel. You can never be too safe or too prepared.
The post Fool-Proof Pre-Travel Timeline (Part 1 of 2) appeared first on The Broken Traveller.
Fifteen years ago, I started with excruciating pelvic pain. In the beginning, the doctors, nor myself, could determine which of my systems was causing all of the pain and bloating. Although unbeknownst to me this was just the beginning of what would turn out to be a long and life-changing process. Symptoms fluctuated between having great difficulty relieving my bladder to bladder emptying every ten minutes. Intermittently, I would experience a lot pressure and inflammation in my urethra and it would feel as though I was peeing razor blades. I just couldn’t understand why all this was suddenly happening to me. Naturally, we questioned whether it was a urinary tract infection, but, tests always came back negative. Finally, I was sent for a cystoscopy, a scope that is inserted through the urethra into the bladder. Let me tell you how much it super sucked having to relieve my bladder after that scope. It ran red for a couple of days from bleeding. I remember singing the kid’s hand-clapping song “Miss. Mary had a Steamboat” (no idea why I chose that song) as loud as I possibly could with my fists clenching, trying to distract myself from the pain. I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis (IC) or also known as Bladder Pain Syndrome (BPS), a painful and debilitating inflammatory disease of the bladder.
"Let me tell you how much it super sucked having to relieve my bladder after that scope. It ran red for a couple days from bleeding. I remember singing "Mrs. Mary had a Steamboat" as loud as I possibly could with my fists clenching, trying to distract myself from the pain."
At that time, it was something they were studying in Canada and not well known. There was only one treatment options available (or at least that’s what I was told). The only thing they had to offer was called a DMSO (Dimethyl Sulfoxide) bladder instillation. This is where a catheter is inserted through the urethra into the bladder. You are awake for the entire procedure and they give you a local anesthetic. The bladder is then filled with air to help expand the bladder. The antispasmodic solution is then instilled to help relax the bladder and pelvic muscles and relieve pain. Once instilled, I was supposed to hold this solution for as long as I could but at least an hour. As treatment, I was having these done on a weekly basis as an outpatient at a hospital. I hated it. I felt like a guinea pig. It was very invasive and I was not comfortable with the doctor or the procedure. These treatments continued for several months. It is not known what causes IC, but, there are many theories. Autoimmune disease (immune system attacks the bladder), pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, defect in the bladder tissue, neurogenic inflammation (inflammation of pelvic nerves) and lastly a specific type of inflammatory cell called a mast cell. This cell releases histamine and other chemicals that lead to IC/BPS. Since diagnosis they have since established a phase system as follows.
First Phase: Lifestyle Changes
Second Phase: Prescription Drugs
Third Phase: Neuromodulation Therapy, Ulcer Cauterization & Injections
Forth Phase: Cyclosporine (immunosuppressant medication)
Fifth Phase: Surgery
So here, I would be considered as Forth Stage IC/BPS. Now, fast forward to current day, I continue to have flare ups, but it seems to be a little more under control once I was put on immunosuppressants for my Lupus. Not a cure, but, a tool in management as there is no known cure at this time.
The post Pathway to Interstitial Cystitis appeared first on The Broken Traveller.
Brain fog can vary for person to person and can last 5 min or 5 years. Brain Fog = Brain Inflammation. It is almost always a symptom of something bigger, be it a physical, emotional or chemical imbalance or illness. Many conditions and illnesses follow with a comorbidity of brain fog. Some common symptoms of brain fog include; loss of mental clarity, mental flatlining, memory and forgetfulness, lack of focus and concentration, slower processing of information, fatigue and irritability and low energy. These symptoms are the result of inflammation of the brain. Most often due to ‘oxidative stress’. Oxidative Stress is an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in the body which can lead to cell and tissue damage in the body (inflammation). Oxidative stress is naturally occurring and what leads to aging in the body.
"These symptoms are the result of inflammation of the brain. Most often due to ‘oxidative stress’. Oxidative Stress is an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in the body which can lead to cell and tissue damage in the body (inflammation)."
Now, looking back at the symptoms of brain fog…notice the pattern? All of these symptoms are examples of poor function of the Frontal Lobe. The frontal lobe is also known as “the new” brain. It is responsible for critical thinking, decision making and executive function. When we are ‘stressed’, neurologically we decrease the amount of blood flow to the frontal lobe “new brain” and, in turn, it goes to the midbrain aka Limbic System “old brain”. The limbic system is more of a survival mode system that defines increased reactionary, fearful and emotional output. Whereas, the frontal lobe is growth, joy and happiness. What this tells us is that the more our bodies are stressed (through oxidative stress) the more likely our frontal lobe is to go offline causing cognitive dysfunction or what I call “cognitive dysfucktion”. Now you can see how brain fog can become functionally debilitating. It makes adulting difficult or sometimes impossible! Brain fog symptoms I personally experience are; doubling up words, flipping words, writing different words than what I’m thinking, seeing the words in my head but not remembering how to say them, completely blanking out mid-sentence or conversation and I often forget the year, my phone number and postal code. It’s extremely frustrating because it almost makes you feel dumb. What are your most annoying symptoms?
The good thing is brain fog is reversible and rarely permanent. It often clears up when disease activity and/or symptoms are low.
The post What Exactly is Brainfog? appeared first on The Broken Traveller.
The truth of the matter is being sick and on disability forced me through a tremendous amount of mental and emotional growth. Don’t get me wrong, it has also put me through a lot of hell too.
My stubbornness and fear kept me from seeking professional help. But, after 7 years on disability, I scheduled an appointment with a Clinical & Health Psychologist. That was the beginning of getting some of my life back. The hardest thing I needed to learn was how to say “No”. I still struggle with this. That word wasn’t even in my vocabulary. I don’t like to turn people down. I enjoy helping people. It makes me happy that I’ve taken some burden off another person. I was always stretching myself past the limit, especially during the holidays. Now, I know that’s not even an option unless I want to pay for it dearly for the next 2 weeks to a month bedridden with exhaustion and pain. Management and limits have become a major part of living with invisible disabilities and chronic illness.
Learning how to be easier on myself through self-care was another task I needed to learn. I never realized how far I had fallen into illness until my therapist asked me to start doing just one thing a week for myself. Read a book, listen to music, walk in nature or try a new hobby. My first thought was “a week?”. When am I going to have the time to do that? Being on disability is more than a full-time job; managing medical care, doctor’s appointments, specialist visits, completing mounds of bloodwork, keeping on top of medications, x-rays, scans, etc. all while being completely exhausted from my body constantly attacking itself. However, I soon realized how essential self-care is to rejuvenate your sense of self and to remind you that you are a human that deserves more than eating pills for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
"Giving myself permission to manage my pain levels via medication and to stop trying to “just tough it out” was another major hurdle. Learning that the brain actually changes when pain extends beyond the natural healing process."
The third task was to name three things I enjoy or would like to do. How was it I could not name one thing?! This wasn’t like me. I realized again how much of me I had lost. So, we changed the question around a little “Pretending that money and health was not a factor, what are some things that you would you like to do?” So, over the next few weeks, every time I thought about something I wrote it down and soon my list became a long bucket list. I’ve been on a mission to accomplish that list of things since writing that list.
Giving myself permission to manage my pain levels via medication and to stop trying to “just tough it out” was another major hurdle. Learning that the brain actually changes when pain extends beyond the natural healing process. Chronic pain changes the brain structurally and functionally and affects the central nervous system and various neural areas that modulate pain. In other words, taking pain medication when you are in real pain is necessary.
Implementing these and many other things gave me a new perspective on life and made things a little easier. It’s helped me to realize that the most important things in life for me are to manage expectation and be the healthiest I can be.
The post Finding Myself Again (Part: 3 of 3) appeared first on The Broken Traveller.
I was working downtown in Toronto’s Financial District for one of Canada’s leading assurance companies. I held a position reporting to the Director of Risk Management. I was at a very happy place in my career. There was lots of room for advancements and that kept me excited. I was constantly taking certified courses and as well enrolled in University part-time to complete two different designations. I was also a member of an elite society in the finance world and enjoyed the swanky lunches and annual Galas. In all fairness, the company held my position for me as long as they could, they knew how dedicated and committed I was to my position and the company. But, after being off sick for a year with no progressive steps forward, the time had come for them to make a business decision and that meant letting me go and hiring someone permanent for my position.
"When I lost my job, I lost me. I lost my identity and didn’t know who I was anymore other than a patient."
The day I got the call my world absolutely fell apart. Everything I’d been working so hard to accomplish was gone. My job and advancements were everything to me at that time. I even held out on having kids so I could put my career first. When I lost my job, I lost me. I lost my identity and didn’t know who I was anymore other than a patient. When you meet someone the first thing people ask as a conversation starter is what you do for a living. Gulp. What the hell was I going to say now? I had no answer other than the truth which was a real conversation killer. I felt useless, a burden to my husband, family and friends. Not just because I lost my job, because I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t be wife, friend, daughter, sister if I couldn’t even hold a glass of water. I didn’t know how I was going to move forward in life. I had nothing left to be proud of any anymore.
The post Losing My Identity: (Part 2 of 3) appeared first on The Broken Traveller.
The first two years of disability was very hard for me, as I imagine it is for anyone. The illness and pain taking over in such quick and disabling matters were overwhelming. The idea that my body could be in such excruciating pain without being tangibly hurt was hard for my mind to comprehend. As days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, no progress had been made with my health. I went from being an active, type-A person, always having something to do and somewhere to be to barely being able to move or hold a cup of water. I became completely housebound and bedridden. Soon, deep loneliness set in. No work and didn’t have the energy to talk to anyone. The only time I left the house was for a doctor’s appointment. My doctors’ became the closest thing to friends I had. It was the only conversation I had with the outside world.
"For the first time, I found myself in a space where all I had was time to think and feel, emotionally. It became too much. Thinking back through all the years of my life up to that point. Remembering every regret and every mistake I made."
Although, at times I couldn’t wait to get out of the house, when I did, I couldn’t wait to get home. Getting ready to go out was such a chore. Getting out of bed was hard enough and adding getting washed up, taking a shower, getting dressed, drying my hair, maybe makeup…it was just too much. I’d be purely exhausted from just getting ready. The loneliness turned into isolation. I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone seeing me in such a vulnerable and sick state. I always had a smile on my face, joking and enjoying life. The thought of people seeing anything else worried me that they would worry. At that point, there was no way I could pretend to be okay around people, I was that sick. I felt like I was slowly dying. Soon, it seemed as though I had formed a detachment from the world. I hated the news and didn’t like watching TV. Fears of what the future held for me was disabling enough. And, the sadness of all the things I felt I should be doing. Eventually, I had to let go of all the responsibilities at home as that also became too much to handle. For the first time, I found myself in a space where all I had was time to think and feel, emotionally. It became too much. Thinking back through all the years of my life up to that point. Remembering every regret and every mistake I made. Regrets, guilt and sadness took over for a very long time. But, it was something I was going to get past. It was a process that I had to go through.
The post The Emotional Reality of Disability (Part: 1 of 3) appeared first on The Broken Traveller.