Medications are what I like to call the two-faced daily element of lupus and other chronic illnesses. We all know that our medications do a multitude of things for us, they help to reduce/ prevent flares, they keep our organs functioning, our heartburn at ease and hopefully reduce our pain….they also come with the other face which is SIDE EFFECTS!! Ahh yes, side effects…this always reminds me of that joke ” Just for once I would love for the side effects to read: may cause extreme sexiness and gorgeous hair” , but we all know the true side effects are not quite as glamorous as that. So what do we do about our medications when we travel? I’m here to offer a few pointers, and although I am a nurse, I need to provide the disclaimer that I am not offering medical advice or suggesting you alter the advice and direction of your physician.
Here are a few reasons that the sheer knowledge of knowing we have several scheduled medications that we take daily can add stress to our travels:
- we KNOW we can NOT miss a dose without consequences
- most of us already struggle from brain fog/forgetfulness and worry about leaving them behind
- long flights and those ugly GI Side effects can make for an even longer flight spent in the fetal position from nausea…or even worse….the dreaded airplane bathroom!
- international flights / drastic time changes and scheduled medications can be tricky..how do we manage the unavoidable jet lag AND add-on the ability to not miss a dose of meds especially when some of them cause drowsiness?
So far I have spent about a year figuring out how to travel while also managing scheduled medications and I have found some ways that help me do that, and some things that I would suggest you don’t do…you’re welcome in advance for the experience on the don’t do!
- ALWAYS pack your medications in your carry on bag!
- fill a medication planner with the medicines you will need for your trip and leave the remainder of the pill bottle at home ,just incase you forget to grab it at 4am when you’re sprinting to the lobby to meet your driver to the airport for your flight home.
- If you know your medicines cause GI side effects, avoid foods that make them worse, include in your medication planner the ” as needed ” medicines to help relieve your symptoms such as Tums or Zoran…whatever helps you, take it! And then explain to your travel partner that you will need the seat on the aisle incase you need to get up, and remind yourself everyone has stomach issues at some point, do not add stress to your travels by worrying about it. ( hard to do but necessary)
- set a reminder on your phone to take your medicines when its time, the excitement and busy schedules of travel often can cause us to forget it was time to dose up! And if you have pm medications that make you drowsy and its night-time at home but not where your destination is…adjust them, but DO NOT SKIP THEM! This is the one I learned the hard way on our recent trip to London…my blood pressure medicine makes me sluggish.. I was already sluggish from the jet lag of a 9 hour flight and wanted to post pone my dose until bed time in London…guess what? Yeah, raging high blood pressure headache that came at the expense of 4-5 hours of me holding my head in my hands, my husband rubbing my head and searching for a soda and convenient store with ibuprofen because …yes I forgot to throw some in my purse for the evening out!
So I say all of that to say this, it IS possible to manage our medications and still travel, even internationally. I had a friend say to me recently ” Mer, why do you stress out so much when y’all are getting ready to go on a trip? If you forget something, you can get it there”. I smiled and thought to myself, you have no clue that every single aspect, step, and decision of my life I have to remember that I have lupus, medications, and if I forget them…not only will I pay for it, but so will my husband and my family Yes, we have to think about everything , things our closest friends and family forget about…but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still go and enjoy this life, and that’s what I intend to do, ENJOY THIS LIFE!
I wish you all safe travels , cute medication planners, and airplane bathroom free flights!
Let me take a few minutes to introduce myself to you. I am a 34 year old woman who was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus and Antiphospholipid syndrome after waking up one morning in September of 2014 with total numbness down my right side, extreme fatigue and confusion. Like most patients with invisible illness/autoimmune disease, my quest for a diagnosis was not quick or easy. I went through several different symptom stages, flares, doctors who couldn't figure it out, doctors who wrote me off as being stressed, and even family members who tried to chalk it up to stress. Frustrating is the word that comes to mind, or shall I say, frustrating is just the tip of the iceberg of emotions . I am a nurse, mother of three fabulous children, and the wife of an amazing man who is my rock, my sanity, my comedian, and my cheerleader. Every day is a struggle, a choice , and a gift. I will be completely honest with everyone and say that I have gone through various stages of emotions since that morning, often repeating stages, and I want my fellow lupus warriors to know that its okay to cycle through emotions. I decided to start a blog when I became vocal about my illness to friends, co-workers, and on social media...several people reached out to me and suggested a blog and told me how much it was helping them to hear from me. So the big question was..what on earth could I blog about concerning lupus that there wasn't already an article out there? The smaller question was , do I want to focus my energy on the negative mundane lupus topics such as flares, medications, pain, effects of chronic illness on your family? No, I don't want to focus on all of those things, I want to help, I want to get back in the swing of life enjoying everything and every second regardless of my disease, and I want to help you do the same.
My husband and I love to travel and we do it often. This past December we went to The Bahamas and stayed at The Ocean Club, I went on and on to him about how fabulous the hair dryer was because it was so light that I could actually tolerate holding my arms up long enough and yet it dried my hair quickly and without frizz ( ladies, don't we all agree that hotel toiletries and accommodations are a big deal?!) When we were getting ready on our last night there, my husband said you should keep up with all of the different hair dryers we have when we travel and write about it...hmmmm good idea! So how does my hair dryer finding lead me to lupus friendly travels you ask, because we all want to enjoy our travels and we all want good hair and good skin and the ability to do the activities planned for our trip...but it effects the lupus patient so differently than others. So join me in our travels and in all of the things and places that we find who make for Lupus Friendly Travels! Lets get packing...