When I informed my doctor that I was going to Mexico, you could say he was less than enthused. My health is incredibly complicated and the average medical professional hasn’t even heard of my disease, so any traveling has an element of risk to it. Traveling to another country where the available health care is questionable at best and healthy people regularly get sick takes things to a whole new level of risk. It’s easy to become intimidated by it all, to allow the what ifs and potential dangers to overwhelm you. Those of us with bone marrow disorders have fragile health and we must take things seriously. But we must also continue to live and enjoy the health that we do have for we never know what’s around the corner. So with that in mind, we put a plan in place and I am happy to report that my travels were absolutely wonderful and I returned a happy healthy girl. I wanted to share how we handled my health issues for this trip just in case anyone out there is in a similar situation looking for answers. And right away I want to preface this by saying this isn’t for everyone and certainly talk things over with your doctor before making any plans.
First up, travel insurance. There are a bunch of different companies out there selling travel insurance with a wide variety of plans. I used this site to compare the plans and ended up choosing Global Alert. I primarily focused on the medical coverage, making sure I chose a plan that had a large amount available for health insurance and emergency evacuation, as well as a plan that covered pre-existing conditions and would give a full refund if my health were to make it impossible for me to travel. Thank goodness I didn’t need to use this but it gave me an incredible peace of mind knowing it was there. I did however need it to cover the night at the resort that we missed due to our flight delays so it turned out to be a wonderful thing to have all the way around.
Next I picked a condo that would be extra wonderful to spend time in if I wasn’t feeling up to being terribly active. Some days I just don’t feel great and I doubted that being on vacation would change that, and I was right. I had one day that I just felt crappy so we spent the afternoon hanging out in our private pool (every bit as amazing as it sounds) and it ended up being one of the best days of our trip. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on my vacation stuck in a hotel room so it made feeling less than stellar no big deal. We tend to go go go when we travel so our room hasn’t really been a priority in our past travels, but it is now something that I will take into consideration when planning trips.
I spent time with my doctor making plans for our trip as well. We planned a blood transfusion two days before I left so that I would have plenty of blood for my travels. Since I’ve been needing transfusions every six weeks or so we knew that I would need one somewhere around that time. It also ensured that I wouldn’t be lagging because of low blood counts. They also sent me on my way with a bunch of masks for the plane rides. I’ll admit I didn’t actually wear them. But I had them ready to put on if I happened to be near anyone couching or sniffling.
While in Mexico I was extra careful in regards to food and drink. Puerto Vallarta is one of the better destinations in Mexico in regards to water filtration so that certainly helped, but I avoided fresh fruits and vegetable and stuck to the bottled water, even when rinsing my toothbrush. Better safe than sorry, especially with a compromised immune system. I also avoided anything too terribly adventurous. With such low platelets, the wrong bump or tumble could turn into a big problem so I erred on the side of caution in that department. In general, I just played it safe and took my health issues into consideration with pretty much everything I did. I didn’t let it ruin my trip or cause me to live in fear, I just kept it in the back of my mind and did my best to make responsible decisions. At the end of the day, I don’t think it cost me a second of fun 😉
So for any of you actually reading this whole boring post, I hope it helps should you be making travel plans of your own! At the end of the day all you can do is make a plan and hope for the best. Traveling may be a little risky for us sickly folk but I believe it’s a risk worth taking. Having a disease complicates our lives for sure, but it also brings with it an appreciation for the time and health that we do have and serves as a daily reminder to make the most of it. For me, that means traveling as much as I possibly can because it is one of my favorite things to do in life. Some day my health may not allow me this luxury so I intend to soak up every ounce of it that I can and pray that day never comes.