Doctor’s Orders

“Health is not simply the absence of sickness.”
– Hannah Green

When prepping for a tramp abroad, ducklings, it’s important to get your health in order as well as your house.  There is nothing fun about getting sick in a foreign country where you may or may not know how the health system works so do your research (speaking as a girl who sprained her wrist in Turkey and was a little, ah, surprised at their hospital system).  Find out well in advance whether or not you qualify for a nationalized service plan or if you should get traveler’s health insurance to cover you in the event of a mishap.  For the best results, long before you go, get the basic preventative work.

Get your teeth cleaned and ask for a fluoride treatment for extra protection.

If you can, get a blood work up.  Find out what, if anything, is lurking in your chemical makeup.

(Gentlemen, avert your eyes) Ladies, get a pelvic and breast exam.

Are you on prescription medications?  Figure out how you’re going to continue to get the meds you need, whether it’s by utilizing the resources available to travelers in your land of destination, or by taking a large supply with you.

Have your dermatologist check out and moles, freckles, lesions, sunspots, or anything else that you weren’t born with.  99% of them will be harmless and the remaining 1% will be treatable if you catch the problem early.  If you have eczema, boils, psoriasis, cysts, or acne, it can and should be treated.

Get an eye exam and update your prescription as needed.  Replace any eyewear that is scratched, broken, barely balancing on the ridge of your nose, or otherwise past its prime.

If you have orthopedic shoes or other bracing, shaping, or corrective gear, make sure it’s in good condition, and still doing its job.  If you need to update any of it, do so.

If you have more personal issues of depressions, anxiety, or any of their tricksy cousins, make sure you are equipped to care for yourself.  Whether that means having a few visits with a trusted counselor to get some coping techniques for the stresses of the move, sorting out your medications, or just making sure you’ve got a support system of people in place.  Anyone who tells you psychological problems don’t have physical symptoms, you should just “suck it up,” or “it’s all in your head” is an idiot.

Now all of this takes time, and money.  If finances are a worry, there are programs like Planned Parenthood, free clinics, student health centers, and physicians who are willing to do pro bono work.  Take advantage of your resources.  Start working through your appointments a few months before you head out to give yourself time to diagnose and treat any trickiness that turns out.

Finally, and I can’t stress this enough, address any health concerns you have with a physician.  I don’t care whether it’s chronic headaches or the alarming tendency to pass out every time you turn left.  I don’t care whether blue snot is draining out of your ears or sometimes you just feel an odd shooting pain in your elbow.  I don’t care if you have hemorrhoids or hair loss, acne or agoraphobia, stress or smallpox.  I don’t care.

Why, you ask?  Because you are entitled to feel well, whole, healthy, happy, well-adjusted, fit and equipped.  You do not have to suffer through pain, anxiety, and discomfort, and certainly not without fighting back!  Take care of yourself, kittens.

4 thoughts on “Doctor’s Orders”

  1. So true!! It is (however exciting) super stressful to change countries and health systems, esp. the US for the UK. As you likely know, there really is a British stiff upper lip and an American abroad may find very different attitudes from drs or nurses elsewhere. I’ve seen this when dealing with drs and nurses treating my mother in Canada.

  2. Pingback: Doctor Orders

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