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Summer's here! Overseas travel tips...

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  • Summer's here! Overseas travel tips...

    Hi all,
    Since it's summer & some of us may be traveling, I'm reposting here my trip suggestions from last summer, so anyone planning a trip will have my tips & hopefully others will add theirs as well!

    Last summer I went to Spain from California. The flights were 21 hours total. My IC is not mild & this was quite challenging. The trip was 25 days (plus 2 days transit) I think the trip was worth it in spite of the difficulties. Here are some things I learned...

    1. If you carry instillation supplies:
    The TSA website says you can ask for a private screening of your medical supplies - well, none of the 4 airport security stations I had to go through provided that. I was told to place my supplies in a bin & get in line with everyone else.
    So, tips: pack the instillation supplies in clear plastic bags with all their labels facing up. Make sure each item has a prescription label with your name on it. Show security doctor's letter itemizing each item as medically necessary. Every single item is likely to be checked & questioned. (The KY jelly was questioned each time in spite of being listed as medically necessary on the letter. Fortunately I'm beyond embarrassment & just explained about lubricating the catheters.)

    In all the airports, I needed extra time because supervisors were called over to inspect each item as well. In the large international airports where I was likely to miss a flight & cause a major backup in the line, I was allowed to go through the handicapped line which was shorter. I still ended up sprinting for my planes due to late arrival of my first flight, then extended security check time because of my meds. So plan more time than the airlines say you need.

    2. Do not wear the stick-on heating pad through security! I set off the alarm in both the walk through & the wand security check & as I was so late for a flight, when I realized what the problem was, I had to unzip my pants & pull it off in front of God & everyone.

    3. Talk with your pharmacist before you go about timing your medications to use extra during the flights & to manage the time differences. With a 9 hour time difference between California & Spain, I was able to take most of my meds right before the trans-Atlantic flight & sleep most of the way. I was actually pretty comfortable. GET AN AISLE SEAT so you can go to the bathroom as often as you can without having to contort yourself in & out of the seats (and annoying your seatmates).

    4. Take extra medications with you. I got a bladder infection while on my trip, which led into a pretty awful flare. Fortunately I had brought UTI test kits & antibiotics with me, so that was ok. But, I'd never had such a stubborn flare before & I used more Darvocet than usual & while the ER doctors there were willing to prescribe me more for the rest of my trip, the hospital pharmacist looked it up & found that it was unavailable in Spain. I took extra with me, but it wasn't enough.

    5. Take the original medication pill bottles with you. Medications have different names in other countries & the doctors can help you best if you have the bottle with you & they can look up the formal name (rather than the brand names we call them in the US).

    6. Make a flare plan with your doctor before you go. I did not do this & ended up calling my mom to call my doctor when I ended up in a massive flare & without enough Darvocet. He was able to adjust my instillation formula to make it stronger & told me to do up to 3 a day. This saved the last week of my trip from being a complete disaster. If I'd had this conversation before I went, it would have saved me several days of serious discomfort as well as the phone call to my mom who was quite upset that I was sick overseas.

    7. Very important, & maybe this should be tip #1.... Bring some means of dealing with constipation with you. I was prepared for traveller's diarrhea, but was not prepared for its evil opposite. It took trips to 3 different grocery stores to find oatmeal. Due to the high temperatures in that part of Spain in the summer, there were very few vegetables available & some grew gray mold in my fridge within hours of coming home from the store. I ate canned corn & carrots mainly for vegetables. I could not find any IC friendly salad dressing, nor could I find cottage cheese, pear or blueberry juice to make one. The lettuce was too bitter to eat with just oil. Colace was not available in Spain. I could not take milk of magnesia because I was on antibiotics (bad interaction), so I ended up using enemas for 10 days. Not good.

    8. Consider renting an apartment for your trip. I did this through the language school I attended. This gave me a kitchen for cooking IC-friendly meals, which was great. My IC is very diet-sensitive & restaurant food would have been a disaster. Also by renting the apt from the language school, I had really nice roommates & people who were aware when I was ill, so I was not isolated.

    All of this said...
    I had a good time. I took each day as an individual unit & on the days I felt good, I did lots of nice things (shopping, museum, or walk on the beach). On the days I didn't feel good, I relaxed on the terrace of my rented apartment & looked at the Mediterranean. I made lots of friends at the international language school I attended, some of whom have emailed me from their countries on return (Russia, Italy, Canada, Germany).
    It was not easy, but I made the best of it & I'm pretty satisfied with how it turned out.

    Wherever you all go, bon voyage!

    I am not a medical authority nor do I offer medical advice. In all cases, I strongly encourage you to discuss your medical treatment with your personal medical care provider. Only they can, and should, give medical recommendations to you.

    New favorite quote: "God gives us only what we can handle. Apparently God thinks I'm a bad-ass" ~Author Unknown
    Source - Pinterest

    Current treatments:
    -IC diet
    -Elavil 50mg at night
    -Continuous use birth control pills (4-5 periods/year)
    -Heparin/Marcaine/Sodium Bicarb home instills at night 3-4x per week, more often if needed
    -Pyridium if needed,
    -Pain medicine at bedtime daily, as needed during the day several times per week
    -Antibiotic when doing an instillation to prevent UTI
    -Colace & SmartFiber to treat chronic constipation from meds, Fleet enema as needed
    -Dye Free Benadryl 50 mg at bedtime
    -"Your Pace Yoga: Relieving Pelvic Pain" dvd, walking, treadmill at gym
    -Managing stress= VERY important!
    -Fur therapy: Hugging the cat!