As Q and I embarked on our cross-country adventure as our nomadic lifestyle began, my illness reared its ugly head and almost thwarted our plans sending us back to home base. And although I refused to go home, after five weeks of barely eating, unable to walk or sleep in addition to being struck with the worse pain of my life, I began raising the white flag of defeat until finally, the symptoms subsided.
And as exhausting and painful as this event was, we were forced to continue travelling ahead of the winter winds that threatened to strand us in a place too inhospitable for an RV adventure. Travelling when you are sick and in pain is difficult at best, and Q and I had to adapt to my many symptoms while on the road. Plane, train or car – nothing would have been as comfortable as a brick and mortar home when a health crisis strikes. But life doesn’t always fit into a perfect package. Sometimes, as in this case, we get sick far from where we’d rather be.
To ease my symptoms I was heavily medicated so I could endure the daily travel. And although it brought much relief, being high while on the open road brings its own challenges. So here are four tips for travelling with a medicated patient.
Comfort Is Key
Try to anticipate for what may occur. Warmth and sleep help heal so bring a pillow and blanket to keep your patient comfortable and provide an opportunity for rest. An already painful abdomen or limb is less irritated when not restricted. Encourage your companion to wear loose fit clothing. Have items on hand in case a disaster may strike. I have spent many an hour on a road trip nauseous with a bucket at my feet, which kept me calm about the possibility of what may happen. And always ensure your patient is medicated. From cold & flu syrups to anti-diarrhoea OTC drugs, to strong pain narcotics, provide the prescribed dosage accordingly to provide comfort and relief.
Safety Is Your #1 Priority
There are many dangers for a highly medicated patient who may have trouble speaking or be confused with their surroundings. Do NOT leave them alone if at all possible. Take them with you on your bathroom break as many rest stops offer unisex facilities. Use fast food or bank drive-throughs to acquire food or money. Beyond your patient’s physical security from external forces it is important to protect them from themselves. Having their medication within reach of you is good however not necessarily good if it’s within reach of them. A travelling companion is no fun if they accidentally overdose on their medication because they were high as a kite when dispensing their own drugs. Also, keep all medications in their original supplied packaging. Some drugs are considered contraband when not prescribed and you could face a trafficking offence should your stash be discovered without a prescription bottle. Save yourself the hassle of proving your innocence while preventing your ill patient from enduring the unpleasantness of an arrest.
No Break In Treatment
If your patient’s treatment requires a scheduled dose of meds, plan ahead when, how and where you will dispense their medication. For treatments that cannot travel, plan to have your patient receive their treatment before you leave on your journey and determine where they will receive their next. Setup any appointments in advance to ensure there are no surprises when you reach your destination.
Keep Your Patient Entertained
Some drugs can be entertainment within themselves. But a bored, sick patient only allows them to dwell on their ailment. Have an iPad on hand for games or movies, download a musical playlist or audiobook to keep your patient occupied. Plan activities appropriate to your patient’s ability. Although I may have been as high as Cheech and Chong on our cross-country tour, I was able to go for small walks to watch the sunset, animals on the side of the road or to even photograph. It’s also a good idea to have some snacks available in case your patient gets an appetite on the road. Nothing worse than when the munchies strike and your miles from a store.
And above all else have patience and understanding. Reminding yourself periodically that your travel companion is ill will you help you figure out how to accommodate them best. Being medicated or in pain can change your patient’s demeanour. They may not be themselves and therefore may not be chatty or be able to do what they usually can.
Now pack those prescription bottles and place that bucket at your friend’s feet and hit the road.
~ True North Nomad
Do you travel when you are sick? How do you accommodate for your illness?
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