Taking a gap year or travelling indefinitely with a chronic disease can be daunting and seem an impossible task, but here are 5 things I’m doing to prepare for it!
My Crohn’s is not something I talk about openly with many people, mainly because I don’t like to admit that I have a problem, but partly because people ask questions about my Crohn’s which I find awkward and embarrassing answering.
I have recently decided that I want to go on an extended backpacking trip, straight away I can see warning flags popping up in my mums head. Crohn’s disease can be hard enough to keep at bay in the comfort of my own home, so keeping healthy;
- Living from a backpack, with a whole new platter of meals to contend with.
- A physically demanding daily schedule.
- Probably worse of all, lack of my bed to curl up in when I’m having a flare up,
will be a challenge at best.
But I’m determined to do it. I find great excitement in travelling to new places, even though I can’t always pronounce their names. I find great excitement in learning new things, even if I don’t adopt them into my life style. I find great excitement in learning the history and politics of a place, even if I forget them as soon as I learn about the next. And I am determined to not let Crohn’s be a barrier for me. I will not let it stop me from doing the things that are important to me.
This post isn’t for my friends to show how brave I am, this post is for people who suffer from Crohn’s or similar IBD’s. This is to show them that you shouldn’t let these things stop you, the world is a beautiful place, you just have to work out what works for you, and have a LOT of willpower! But nothing worth having comes easy, right?
So in this post I am going to share 5 things that I am doing, as a Crohnie, to prepare my self for a extended backpack trip!
1. Know your Crohn’s
This seems obvious, but its something that I really struggled with. One of the most infuriating moments of being diagnosed with Crohn’s is where you ask your doctor, ‘Hey Doc, what can I do to get better? What should I eat?’ expecting all your issues to go away after cutting out red meat and fireball whiskeys, but instead your doctor shrugs and says ‘thats what you need to work out.’ it’s such a cop out! While you’re having a flare up everything seems to bother you, then when you’re not you seem to be able to eat things that you usually wouldn’t dream of eating. If you are really struggling then there are a few food diary apps that work really well to help out.
2.Willpower and saying no
I know eating dessert is going to be bad for me, I know fish and chips is a killer, but dessert is the best part of any meal and when my whole family is eating chips, I want a chip. Still, I know if I want to travel for an extended time I need to be as healthy as possible before I leave. So when someone offers me cake or a coffee, I’m learning to say no. I’m not very good at it.. but I’m getting better!
3. Stock up
I’m talking prescriptions, my doctor will give me 3 months prescription. depending what pills you take this may be the same for you, it may be less. But you need to find this out before you can start planning your trip to avoid disappointment later on. Also find out what countries you are visiting have a reciprocal health agreement meaning it should be pretty easy for you to get your pills abroad, and what documents you need to be able to get hold of them.
4. Plan safe zones
If you are planning travelling through parts of Africa, India or Asia, you might not be able to avoid slightly dirty water, foods that will upset you or generally dirty environments that can effect you. Plan in regular places that you can get access to a more westernised diet that you are used to. Australia will be my safezone and also larger cities, I’m hoping, will be my safe refuge!
5. Allow rest
Regardless of whether you are travelling or just trying to cope with life after diagnosis, rest is one of the most important things I can recommend. I almost always have to be doing something, I get restless if not, so this one has been hard for me. But its amazing how much better I feel after a weekend of good sleep, skipping bike rides for a week or having a hours nap after work. I’m going to make sure that I take my time and have rest days in my travels.
Do you have Crohn’s? How has it effected your travels? And what tips would you give?