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A few years back, at 23, Max was having the time of his life studying abroad.
During that time, he unexpectedly started experiencing unusual gastrointestinal symptoms - digestive discomfort, diarrhea, and blood with bowel movements. - so ,he went and got examined by a Gastroenterologist (GI ). After a few examinations and frequent hospital visits, he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. He felt his life turned upside down in a moment, and his traveling spirit took a back foot.
Living with Crohn's disease (CD) was a rigorous battle he had to endure daily. Adding traveling to the equation made matters worse. No matter how challenging, he did not waver and kept researching new avenues to travel with the unpleasant company - Crohn's disease.
Crohn's being chronic, forging a path that suits your needs and requirements to travel in the face of adversity is a courageous act. Considering the unpredictability of the disease, pulling through Crohn's disease will always have you on your toes, which may result in anxiety and restricts you from experiencing life with a broader perspective.
The intensity of the disease may vary according to eating habits and other circumstances depending on the weather, diet, and modes of transportation.
Here are a few tips for patients like Max living with Crohn's disease to make the most of their trip by keeping their traveling woes at bay.
It is advisable to locate a doctor in the areas that you are visiting. Having a doctor at your disposal eases the anxiety and helps you enjoy the trip. Doctors specializing in gastric disorders are best suited to handle a crisis in case you face one. Your doctor may help you with medications that will provide a seamless experience, ensuring appropriate care and support. If you plan on crossing international boundaries, reaching out to your country's embassy aids in gaining a better insight into healthcare questions.
While traveling, it is necessary to chart out the availability and accessibility of washrooms. A preplanned trip prioritizing the needs of the patient with Crohn's disease goes a long way in relieving any stress regarding finding bathrooms.
It is advisable to find restrooms at the convenience of your mode of transportation. It is a vital step to ensure easy access to the nearest washroom. For example, if you are flying, it is advised to book seats close to the bathroom. Similarly, while taking a road trip, it is pivotal to plan the halts according to the proximity of public restrooms. It is usually beneficial to inform security and concerned authorities about your medical condition while traveling. Planning guarantees a fuss-free trip without overlooking health concerns. If you happen to be traveling across international boundaries, learn a few words from the country's native language to help you navigate the nearest restrooms or directions to a medical facility. If learning the native language seems daunting, use an online translator to communicate effectively and effortlessly.
The most important thing to understand for patients with Crohn's disease is to carry medications, ranging from emergency medications to daily prescriptions. These medications help to regulate the intensity of the condition. Consult your doctor for an updated prescription of your required medicines and other alternatives. Check the availability of prescribed medications and their substitutes outside international borders if traveling abroad.
If you are traveling by flight, ask for a letter from the doctor stating the need to carry certain medications on the flight in case of security intervention. A medical card asserting the prevalence of CD also helps quicken the check-in process.
Food, in general, holds a significant stance while traveling. Sticking to a balanced and healthy diet is often difficult while traveling. However, patients with Crohn's disease must follow a strict diet that regulates their condition. Your eating habits have a direct influence on your condition. Therefore, it is advisable to seek restaurants offering balanced and healthy meals. If possible, you can request a meal by providing a list of ingredients to be omitted.
Seek a doctor's opinion before trying new foods or ingredients. As mentioned earlier, preplanning simplifies and minimizes the hassle of looking for accommodation and food. Furthermore, carrying your snacks is also helpful in the long run as it negates the possibility of contracting food allergies.
Packing for a trip calls for numerous checks and repacking. We tend to pack and repack till the day of the departure. Nonetheless, patients with CD must be particular in packing their necessities. A box containing essentials and emergency medications is an absolute travel necessity for them.
An emergency kit with essential equipment like toiletries, adult diapers, handwash, sanitizers, disposable bags, and medications helps while you are on the go. Carrying an extra pair of comfortable and baggy clothes is also recommended. Avoid wearing skin-tight clothes that may aggravate bloating and uneasiness. Invest in loose pants and T-shirts that are easier for you to move in comfortably.
Dehydration caused by the loss of fluids and electrolytes weakens the body. Drinking water at regular intervals replenishes the fluids, leaving you refreshed. Sipping on water or other hydration supplements allows the body to regain its lost nutrients. Always keep a bottle of water handy whenever you are traveling.
However, ensure that the water you are drinking is safe for consumption. Packaged mineral water is the safest alternative. If you are flying, always carry an empty bottle with you.
Having medical insurance ensures financial support during an emergency. Carry a hard copy of the insurance card and other required documents that state the existence of Crohn's disease for smooth proceedings at the airport or in queues. In addition, save a digital copy of your insurance policy on your phone for better accessibility. Medical traveling insurance is an even better option for people with Crohn's disease to consider.
People with Crohn's disease tend to be anxious and overwhelmed due to their medical condition. Moreover, traveling with it may intensify anxiety and restlessness as it interrupts the daily routine and bathroom habits. If you are likely to get anxious while traveling, engage in activities that calm you down. For example, you can carry a coloring book or your favorite book to help simmer down anxiety levels. You can also bring your favorite blanket or comfort pillow to make yourself at ease. Surrounding yourself with objects that bring comfort regulates stress levels, aiding in lowering any possibilities of Crohn's disease outbursts.
Lastly, Mr. Max advises relaxing and looking forward to your exciting trip. Some amount of worry and anxiety about unexpected flare-ups is natural before commencing the journey. However, that restlessness should not inhibit your chances of having a pleasant trip or vacation. Rest assured that you have checked off all the necessary steps before your journey. If you are unsure of the things you have packed, consider double-checking or asking for help from a friend or family member. Don't let Crohn's disease obstruct your enjoyment and hamper your spirits. Relish every moment of the trip without any worries or distress.
Max concluded by saying, “the right treatment, a strong support system, and living a life filled with purpose has made all the difference for me.”