Meet Maureen Knorr, Living Well With Epilepsy’s newest writer. She’s traveling with epilepsy around the world – pills and all. I hope you enjoy her lighthearted approach to what can be some pretty complicated situations.
Traveling with Epilepsy
I love traveling, even though it comes with some serious baggage. Like waking up at 5 am for an 8 am flight, and then having to take my laptop out for security. I always “beep-beep-beep” the metal detector even though I have emptied my pockets. And somehow, I always manage to over or under pack – so I’m either washing my garments mid-trip or lugging around a big suitcase with clean clothes!
Counting the days
Traveling with epilepsy adds another level of complications. You’re not just counting out undies, you’re counting out meds. I take 9 pills a day (4 red and white ones, 2 big whites, 2 little whites, 1 mini-yellow, and sometimes a mini-white ) so for a weekend vacation I need to bring 18 pills (8 red and white ones, 4 big whites, 4 little whites, 2 mini-yellow, and mini-whites for just in case). For a week vacation I need 49 pills (you get the idea). It’s not rocket science but it is a pain in the butt – especially for the mathematically challenged. Plus, when you are packing something this important, something your life depends on, it’s hard not to double, triple, quadruple check your counting like a million times! And somehow still feel anxious it.
We vacation too
It’s not just the obsessive pill counting. There is also the challenge of getting your meds! I’ll explain. I’m allowed to fill 4 weeks of medication at once. If I have 1 week left of those 4, but am planning a two-week vacation I have to fight the pharmacist to refill my prescription before I leave! I mean, come-on!
No one in the world is taking anti-epileptic drugs recreationally. They’re not fun pills.
Also, for future reference, people with epilepsy do go on vacation.
Pill counting and feisty pharmacists are just the beginning of travel stressors. Once you are on your vacation is when you truly enter the danger zone.
Before leaving the hotel for the day, have you ever asked yourself, “Do I bring my passport and cash with me or leave it here?” You weigh the risks of being pick-pocketed vs. the chance of a dodgy maid or thief. While having your passport stolen sucks, you can’t even compare it to losing your epilepsy medication.
For a two-week vacation I’ll have 100 pills with me. Do I carry those around and risk them being stolen, or leave them in my room and risk the maid calling the DEA on me!? I think it is a good rule of thumb is to treat medicine like it is cash. Bring enough with you for the next three days (just in case!) and then hide the rest in your suitcase and cross your fingers no one takes it.
Scary but not impossible
Traveling with epilepsy is scary but I know firsthand that it’s possible! I highly encourage you to challenge yourself and step out of that comfort zone. Let your fears go and take the risk!
How about you?
What is the biggest concern YOU have about traveling with epilepsy? Comment below.