Saturday, May 26, 2007

Travel and IBD

I recently ran across this article on IBD on the Road and thought about travel with my tummy troubles.

It is very easy to want to stay at home when you have Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis. You know where the bathroom is, you have laundry facilities, your doctor is close by...but sometimes it is good to get away. Letting tummy troubles keep you at home lets your disease own you and isn't healthy at all. That isn't all sweetness and light traveling.
Here are some tips that I have:

1. Over pack. Even if you have never had an accident in all the years of tummy troubles, you could and nothing is worse than having nothing else appropriate to wear.

2. Take a heating pad with you if you use one at home. I do, and after one too many nights in a hotel without one, I went and got just a small one to keep in the suitcase.

3. Take all your meds...not just your daily meds. You may not need them. Hopefully you won't but take them anyway. Nothing is worse than a vacation ruined by nonstop throwing up just because you left the nausea meds you never use at home.

4. Don't get overtired. Just because you only have one chance to see where ever you are doesn't mean the best approach is to go at it nonstop. Your body will stop you cold if you do.

5. Throw a box of crackers or whatever safe snack food you eat in your suitcase. Off mealtimes, touring, and just not being able to hit the kitchen when you need a snack can cause more problems than fitting a box of crackers in your suitcase. Room service menus rarely have anything for the tummy troubled and vending machines are worse. (If they are even available! I have noticed that fewer and fewer hotels have them.)

6. BYOB-You might also want to make sure you have bottled water, sodas, whatever with you. Another city's water may not react well with your gut even if you aren't traveling to a foreign country. Dehydration-bad.

7. Read up on where you are visiting before you go. If you are going to museums or theme parks, see if the map is available online, so you know ahead of time where restrooms are located.

8. If you are going to go see family/friends, let them know ahead of time that any lack of eating, going to bed early, etc isn't a reflection of their company or their cooking.

9. Bring and use hand sanitizer. Lots of it. No, the grime on the atm is not any worse in Peoria than it is in Philly but the bacteria and viruses hanging out in that grime may well be and will grab onto you like there is no tomorrow. Add to that the closed-in spaces of theaters, planes, etc full of people and more public restroom usage than usual.

10. All that is something-prepare for the worst, but expect the best. Some of my best days since getting sick have been while on a trip. That traveler's constipation that troubles so many "normal" folk sometimes hits me and gives me a couple days of quiet guts. Even without that perk, there are good days and sometimes those are out on the road, making for some really magical times.

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