Okay, I do want to travel, really badly, but the UK is quite literally a giant fluffy pillow compared to the rest of the world.
Lymphoedema makes it incredibly hard for the affected part of your body to fight infection. That’s why it is essential to keep healthy through nutrition and exercise in particular, so that if one day you do get a cut you stand a better chance of saying “no infection, not today”, or any other day for that matter.
That’s what scares me about travelling. What if one day a giant mosquito the size of a variety bucket takes a liking to my leg (apparently they love Lymphoedema) and decides to have a suck on it. What then?
What if, whilst exploring Wat Phu Khao Thong temple of Thailand, I trip and graze my shin? Who will help me explain my condition as I don’t know Thai, not even a little bit?
OR (last one I promise), what if I get food poisoning from eating something dodgy and become so dehydrated that I shrivel like a prune? My leg won’t like that, I can guarantee it.
What I’m trying to get across is that for us Lymphies travelling the world is full of risks. We need to be careful. When I go, I will view the world like a Hazard Awareness Perception Test. Everyone is out to get me.
Here are some travelling tips that I have acquired from a range of sources and experiences, and each time I visit a new location I will update this blog with more tips as I go:
Bug spray and mosquito nets – Boots just doesn’t cut it. When you arrive at the airport, purchase a spray from the native pharmacist. If you are in a hot country this will almost definitely be a stronger formula. Your garment will not protect you from bug bites. Look closely. Notice that you can still see your skin? You need to spray your skin and the garment itself. Mosquito nets are also a great idea especially in tropical climates.
Cover up – Bug bites and sunburn. For the former, see what I just wrote. For the latter trust me, it’s not worth it. I love the sun. Not only does it enable my existence but also it gives me a wonderful glow worthy of an Athenian. However, if you do get burnt it’ll take longer to heal, it will aggravate your Lymphoedema, and could turn into a nasty infection. I repeat, not worth it.
Buy yourself some neat loose fitting, linen or cotton trousers just like your most stereotypical traveller ever. They’re comfy, and not only will they protect your legs, they’ll keep them cooler too.
My Lymphoedema is located in the lower half of my body, so I can’t advise from experience what garments are best suited to those with Lymphoedema in the upper body. If you have any suggestions, please send them my way!
Antibiotics – this is the most essential one on the list. If you don’t have these, don’t go.
In the UK the most commonly prescribed skin infection antibiotic is Flucloxacillin, but there are others too. In an ideal world you would only take one travelling, but such is the nature of Lymphoedema, and such is the risk of Cellulitis, that you’ll want more than one type just in case you are going travelling for a longer amount of time.
This is not a joke. You need antibiotics. Also, make sure they’re in date before you go gallivanting across the globe.
Doctor’s note – have your doctor write out the necessary actions should you get infected. This note should explain what your condition is and what your current situation is. Then, translate this note into the languages of the countries you are visiting. That way, if you end up in a hospital bed, you are not using Google translate to explain your incredibly complicated condition at four in the morning. You’ll want back ups too. Take a picture of the letters and maybe even type them up and email them to your self.
Medical kit – keep your medicines and tools in one clearly labelled Medical box or you’ll lose them. Antibiotics, plasters, anti-bac gel and painkillers form my basic travelling kit\
A light towel – if you are going to a hot country your limb might struggle with the climate. Dampening a towel with cold water and wrapping it around said limb is a really soothing remedy
Minimum two garments – this way you can wear one while you wash one.
Lymphoedema wristband – order one of these bad boys, that way if your Lymphoedema is in a bad way, you can let your wrist do the talking.
Beach shoes – we all like the feeling of sand under our feet, but if you’re going to be running into the ocean Hoff style then I would recommend a pair of waterproof beach shoes as a layer of protection from rocks, shells, sea urchins and other such spiky things.
Alcohol/substances – it’s your responsibility not to become a liability. I enjoy a glass of wine or five like we all do but as your hangover likes to remind you, boozing is dehydrating. Be smart, drink plenty of water and watch out for drinking under the sun – it’s a double whammy of dehydration.
Don’t be the guy and or girl who can’t handle their drinks. It’s one thing to face plant when you’re fit and healthy, it’s another when you have a certain debilitating, long-term condition.
The same goes for substances. This isn’t a “don’t do drugs” speech; it’s a “don’t be a moron” speech. Rumour has it that drugs and fun are directly proportional, but it’s actually a fallacy. The real marriage is between drugs and becoming a grade A liability to both yourself and your friends. If you are that way inclined, take on board your environment, your access to healthcare and keep drinking plenty of water.
Hopefully you’ve found these helpful. Got any suggestions? Send them my way.