Vacations are an exciting time filled with new experiences, and activities. Be sure to take care of yourself and you will enjoy yourself on your trip. Follow these steps for safe travel.
- Research your trip- more about this in the next section.
- Carry an information card outlining your medical conditions, medicines and allergies. Include physician and family emergency contact numbers. Print and complete this form for you and your travel companions. If you have DBS, carry information about the device and Medtronic information number in case you have an emergency. Print this simple letter for your provider to sign if you have special needs when flying. Consider traveler’s insurance. Your health care insurance many not cover you in another country. If you are travelling to a remote area of the world, will you require evacuation in the event of an emergency? Many insurance plans exist for these purposes.
- DBS Tips
- DBS patients should not go through airport security systems including hand help wands. You may wish to have your physician or DBS programmer sign this letter and show it to airport security screeners to help keep you safe.
- Bring your Acess Review Device (be sure the battery is fresh) so that you can check your battery's on off status.
- Carry your Medtronic DBS Information Card in your purse or wallet
- Call Medtronic Customer Support before any medcial procedure 1-800-328-2518
- Wear a Medical Alert Bracelet stating you have a Brain Pacemaker.
- Research your trip.
- Will you be doing a lot of walking?
- Where can you rent a wheelchair if you need one?
- Are their local hospitals, clinics, or pharmacies available?
- Does your hotel or lodging have an exercise facility or safe place to walk and keep up your exercise?
Be Medicine Wise
- Talk to your healthcare provider about your medicine dosing. You may need special directions if you are traveling to new time zones. This may require an extra dose of medication (some medicines such as Azilect should never be increased). Remember the stress of travel can worsen dyskinesia or slight change in medicine timing.
- Bring extra medicine if you are travelling internationally in case your luggage or bag gets lost or stolen.
- Carry all medicine in their original prescription bottle. This is especially important if you are travelling to another country and subject to customs and security clearance.
- Carry a full days worth of medicne with you in the event you need it.
- Ask your doctor if your medicines increase sensitivity to sun
- Use a watch alarm to be sure you take your medicines on time.
Be Food Wise
- Don’t skip meals. Eat frequent small meals and snacks rather than a few big meals.
- A change in your diet can aggravate your constipation. Drink water. Carry snack foods with you such as dried fruit (prunes), high fiber foods or a fiber supplements.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Beware of alcohol. It may cause excessive fatigue, dehydration, lightheadedness, impaired judgment and clumsiness.
Avoid These Medical Problems
- Blood clots. A blood clot cause deep venous thrombosis (DVT) can occur most commonly in the legs. Symptoms include new or worsening leg swelling usually in one leg and pain. Some people are more susceptible to blood clots then others.
- Immobility- extended time periods sitting without moving such as travel in care or plane). Stop, get up, stretch your legs or walk at least every hour. Do these simple exercises to keep muscles loose and blood flowing in your legs-moving your feet in circles, move your feet up and down to stretch and massage your calf muscles, bending and straightening your knee.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Avoid dehydration.
- Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). RLS can worsen at times of stress, during times of immobility such as when you are cooped up in a car or plane. Certain alcohol and medicines can worsen RLs such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) sometimes taken for sleep during travel
- Constipation. see recommendations above
- Dizziness and Low blood pressure. You may already have this problem but even if you do not you may experience these problems if you are dehydrated- A break in your usual routine or limited access to drinks may result in drinking less. Always carry bottled water with you. Avoid or limit alcohol as this can cause dehydration.
- Stress and Anxiety. Even a vacation filled with plans for rest and relaxation can provoke anxiety. The accompanying article, Don’t Pack Your Stress offers helpful tips to insure you have fun.
- Confusion and Hallucinations. Some people with Parkinson’s suffer from confusion or hallucinations. The following situations may worsen these problems
- Dehydration, infection or other illness. A new problem with these symptoms requires a medical evaluation.
- An increase or extra doses of Parkinson’s medicines.
- A new environment or schedule. Try to maintain a normal schedule and avoid highly stimulating environment opting for quiet peaceful settings instead.
- Lack of sleep.
- Stress and anxiety.
- Sun burn. Don’t let sunburn or worse yet heat stroke ruin your day. Stay in the shade when possible. Wear a hat with a visor and long sleeves. Use sun screen (and apply to all exposed skin), lip protection. Protect your eyes from sunglasses.
- Travelers Illness. Sun burn, traveler’s diarrhea, viral illnesses, and mosquito borne illnesses are just a few of the illnesses you can acquire while away. In some countries sanitation and clean water is a concern. Drink bottled water if sanitation is a concern. Eat fruits and vegetables that can be peeled. A medical consultation with a travel medicine specialist (usually an Infectious disease specialist) will insure you get the appropriate health advice and vaccines needed to travel to certain remote or exotic countries.
Read the accompanying articles for the best vacation ever.
Author: Monique Giroux, MD