How to Take Your Chronic Condition on Vacation
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My daughter left last week to complete a two month clinical nursing rotation in a hospital in Singapore. Yes, this is the kid with Crohn’s disease. She was so excited when she was chosen to participate in the Johns Hopkins transitions program. I have been a wreck ever since I heard that she was chosen to go. It’s scary enough to let your kids travel on their own when they are perfectly healthy. As a parent with a kid who has a chronic illness I tend to go into hyper-vigilant mode as soon as she starts doing something outside my comfort zone.
She’s been living with Crohn’s disease since she was 6, so she is pretty good at it. She needed to procure over two months’ worth of her medications to take with her, but of course the insurance only allows for one 30-day fill at a time. Enter the “vacation override” — a request that must be started long before departure. The hours spent on the phone to understand and enact the process were arduous. Trust me: this cannot be left to the last minute. Of course, to make matters even more complicated, my daughter is on Budesonide, a medication she must take in liquid form for it to work. Packing eight huge bottles of the stuff, getting it past security, and not using up her baggage weight allowance was a job only the daughter of the organized caregiver could successfully accomplish!
She had a comprehensive evaluation several weeks prior to departure with a doctor who specializes in travel medicine, and received the necessary vaccinations determined by her itinerary. We purchased supplemental insurance coverage for the rare possibility that she would need medical evacuation services from whichever city she was touring. Statistics show that less than 2 percent of travelers ever need to be medically evacuated. That said, we decided a policy costing around 0 was a very prudent safeguard against the tens of thousands of dollars such an evacuation might cost. The policy also covers evacuations “in the event of an Emergency Security Situation,” but even thinking about what that really means made me nauseous.
Leslie’s program is affiliated with the . This program provides assistance in managing health conditions anywhere in the world, including the ability to view summarized reports of up to date health risks and situations worldwide. They also provide access to thousands of English speaking physicians for emergency and routine medical advice.
As her mom, it is reaffirming for me to see how empowered she is to be able to pack up her Crohn’s disease and take it on the road!
If you’re caring for someone with a chronic condition, get organized before you help to send them on vacation:
- Make sure they make photocopies of their passport, and bring those along with the actual document. Keep additional copies should they lose the originals.
- Be sure your passport is validjust in case you need to travel to them quickly.
- Have them enquire about a prescription for an antibiotic in case of traveler’s diarrhea.
- If bringing medication, especially potentially problematic thingslike bottles of liquid, make sure they have a doctor’s note that includes their prescription and a letter describing their diagnosis.
- Along with medications and prescriptions, make sure they bring a copyof prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses.
- Have a plan for the best and cheapest way to communicate.
- The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. Governmentto U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. Have your traveler enter information about his or her upcoming trip abroad so that the Department of State can better assist them in an emergency.
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