The travelling kidney…
Gold standard, super duper insurance… Check
Drugs squashed into their smallest transportable form…Check
Clinic letters crumpled in my hand luggage…Check
What could go wrong??
Believe it or not, getting sick abroad is practically my forte. I’m so good at it I can usually manage a hospitalisation in every country I visit. Now… I’m not saying I don’t want to scout other medical facilities but occasionally it would be nice to go on a trip and not have to whip out my European health insurance card or watch Chris make phone calls to the insurance company.
After my transplant began to settle, my thoughts immediately switched from surviving to actually thriving and just 3 months later I was back in the airport, passport in hand… There’s always anxiety when travelling with any health condition (for the most part), the ifs and buts swim around your head incessantly, there’s many aspects you can predict and control but you can’t prepare for every possible outcome. This is particularly true when you venture to parts of the world that are the polar opposite to Western life, you chlorinate your water, you don’t eat salads, you antibac fruit and everything else 15 times a day.
The internet is your best friend when your considering a trip, find out everything you need to know before you start planning you don’t want to be disappointed to find out you actually can’t go to that country. I know some of you are sat reading this thinking, “can’t go? Sorry what?”. Unfortunately many parts of Africa and some part of South America are strictly off limits to those without a yellow fever vaccination certificate and it’s not transplant friendly. The vaccination uses weakened live virus to stimulate immunity and are not suitable for those of us stuffed full of immunosuppressant drugs.
Other than that, the worlds your oyster! Find out about what other diseases are prevalent and how best to protect against them. What’s the health care like? Do I need to always drink bottled water? How much is full cover insurance? Is there a hospital reasonable distance from me? Discuss it with your team too they’re always there to offer advice.
Much like everything in life, particularly at the minute, you have to make a judgement call. Do the benefits of this trip outweigh the risks? Can I do things to minimise the risk? If things do turn sideways, do I have a backup plan? For me the answer is always yes, the benefits of travel are always going to outweigh the risks because it’s who I am and I wouldn’t be me without it.
It saddens me when I see transplant patients burdened by this anxiety when I comes to travel. It can be a daunting prospect but as long as you take care of yourself, listen to your body and get lots of advice you can mitigate most of the risk.
…and let’s be serious, anyone that travels abroad knows it’s totally worth it!