Traveling when sick........

My wife seems to have a real knack for ths, either on business trips or vacation. She will start getting sick either a couple of days before leaving, or the first day there, but either way is miserable for most of her trip.

Although when we went to Hawaii a couple of years ago it was my turn. The week before we were supposed to leave, I started feeling like I was getting either a cold or a sinus infection. I even scheduled a visit to my doctor to make sure it wasn’t strep. (It wasn’t.) I was about four days into it the day we left. We had to leave our house around 3am to get to the airport in time for our flight, spent about nine hours on a plane, and by the time we got to our hotel in Waikiki it was only early afternoon but I just wanted to go to bed for the rest of the day. It was another three days or so before I felt fully recovered but I managed to power through some of the touristy stuff we had planned.

Flight from Barcelona to a small French airport, this past Sunday.

As we’re boarding, there is a tumult in the back, then silence and one of the cabin ladies asks (nice projecting btw) “is there a medic on board?” As luck would have it, three seats behind a retired nurse happened to still be free; a woman was moved there from the back, given oxygen… the airport’s own medics came ASAP, but heck, they can’t multiply themselves and from what they said when they arrived it was being a busy day (the team we got wasn’t even the one assigned to our terminal). The crew had enough French to serve coffee, but not really for dealing with medical issues; the nurse’s sister and a young gentleman sitting across the aisle translated (I had a front-row view, as I was two rows behind the nurse; directly behind the sick lady). The woman was traveling with friends who eventually came over only after one of the cabin crew went to fetch them and who didn’t want to stay (husband and wife team and it became a “you stay” “no you” - seriously?); the doctor had to explain that they were not leaving until someone came with the sick lady, who at that point was at least finally breathing deeply instead of trying to bat away the mask. The husband said “but what if she was alone?” “she is not. What if I was Emmanuel Macron? I’d be president of France. I’m not president of anything and she is not alone. One of you stays.” When the ambulance came, the wife left with the sick lady.

PSA: if you have any kind of known conditions (not necessarily stuff that’s medicated) and/or take any medication, go to your PCP before any trips and ask if (s)he can give you a “mini history” or “status report” (they get different names in different places). Being able to give a piece of paper to anybody who needs to treat you will make it much easier for them and also they’ll know that you aren’t forgetting to list anything.

On a business trip to the east coast, the first night in the hotel, I was awakened by horrible pain in my big toe. The two Advil I had on hand did not make a dent in the pain. No more sleep. The next morning I could barely get a sock on my foot, and putting my shoe on took everything I had. I was probably white with pain. When I went downstairs to meet my colleagues, limping and pale, they asked what was wrong. I told them, and one of them immediately said “It’s gout!” No way, says I, I am too young and that is something my father gets. Fortunately, they were pharmacists and one of them had a strong pain killer on hand. A few days later the flight home was 5 hours of misery, and a quick trip to urgent care confirmed it was gout. My first attack, so no idea what it was. Fortunately, I have learned how to manage it since then.

Similar thing happened to me, but at least I was home.

It woke me up in the middle of the night and I wondered how in the hell I broke my big toe while I was sleeping. Yes, it hurts that bad. I couldn’t stand having a bed sheet rest on it.

I managed to get bronchitis on my way to basic training. That was a super fun first week! I have also had migraines in Vegas and Los Angeles, which I did my best to push through (Vegas was especially bad with the cigarette smoke, lights and sounds).

My worst was a migraine while on training in the Arctic Circle. I had to fly on a Twin Otter for about 8 hours. I really did feel like my eyes were bleeding. When I landed, the flight surgeon ordered me sedated and put to bed. What a miserable experience.

They should - if you look for a thread I started about 2 years back about my then-22-year-old son travelling to Europe, someone linked to a site that helps you find such insurance. Make sure it covers things like travel delays / medical evacuation.

It may vary in how it functions; we host students from overseas periodically and they all have something, but the one time a student used it, he had to pay out of pocket then get reimbursed when he went home.

As for me: I’ve never been sick while travelling, but I did break my elbow in a nasty fall in 2005 - could have been far worse, given the way I fell. It made parts of the rest of the trip “interesting” (like the next night, when we found we’d been given a 2nd floor hotel room, in a building with no elevator, so I couldn’t help with the luggage). It was actually helpful at the end, when we made it through security barely in time to board our flight - I took advantage of “anyone who needs assistance” so we got on first (Southwest - as in, no assigned seats, and we had young kids travelling with us).

A year or so before that, we travelled with our kids and my son’s friend. The friend had asthma, and used a nebulized steroid daily. The parents didn’t tell us this in advance, and didn’t want us to have to lug a nebulizer (we actually owned one), so just asked the pediatrician what they could do about that. The ped - who should have been SHOT - said “just use the bronchodilating inhaler more as needed”

By the third day of the trip, the poor kid was coughing nonstop. Even starting him on a steroid inhaler (that I had for my own kids) didn’t knock it back, so we had the fun of trying to find a place to see him. Fortunately we knew someone local, who suggested a hospital with a walkin pediatric clinic, so we came out of all of it with oral steroids and antibiotics (not sure the abx were needed, but I think they wanted to make sure there wasn’t something secondary).

Fortunately, he was feeling MUCH better by the time we had to fly home.

Speaking of travelling with kids: we had a written note from his parents allowing us to seek care. With the student who needed to see a doctor, the first place we went to (a drugstore clinic) would not accept ANYTHING we came up with authorizing us to take him for treatment - including documentation from the agency that had been more than enough for other students in the past. We ultimately took him to another drugstore clinic - who saw him with no argument at all.