Real Talk

5 things I’ve learnt from travelling with a chronic disease

Here I am, two and a half years after my diagnosis of Hashimoto's thyroiditis. I’ve been living in London, teaching, whilst travelling at every opportunity I could get since November 2016. It has been by far the best decision I’ve made and has also, strangely, helped me see how little this disease defines what I can achieve.

Here are some things I have learnt about managing my disease on the road...

Clear timetable for check-ups and prescription refills

Teaching in the UK is incredibly tough, however a perk attached is a 1-2-week holiday roughly every 6-7 weeks plus a long summer holiday. After a few ‘half-terms’ it was easy to get a schedule going for preparing for trips. I needed to make sure I had all my check-ups and refilled prescriptions before leaving and I soon learnt that I would need at least a weekend to recover from my trips before returning to work.

RELATED: THIS GIRL’S STORY PROVES YOU CAN STILL TRAVEL ON CONTIKI WITH A CHRONIC ILLNESS

Spread Awareness

By travelling around, having to openly manage my disease with medications, particular foods and the odd days off recovering, I’ve managed to start some conversations with other travellers about how the thyroid can impact others. If you’re reading this, spend 2 minutes googling what the thyroid does for your body; that information could be life changing for someone you know!

Girl-at-tomato-festival-travel-disease

Don't let your disease run your life

What’s better: making memories & updating the gram from Amsterdam or feeling sorry for yourself in bed liking everyone else’s pictures? Would I have ticked off many bucket list activities and sights if I decided to let my disease run my life? No. The fun thing about an autoimmune disease is that for many of us, it can mean your body’s ability to fight bugs is weakened. But I didn’t work my behind off to save for the move of a lifetime to have FOMO looking at other peoples travels.

I had a very quick-to-quit attitude and for the briefest moment didn’t like what my future back home was looking like. Moving overseas and travelling every chance I got was the best thing I could do to shake up these feelings. Don’t do something directly to put yourself in harms way, but don’t let your disease run your life.

RELATED: BEING DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER ENCOURAGED ME TO TRAVEL 

It’s okay to not be at 100% all the time

Disease is tiring. Travelling is tiring. I’ve had times where I went 110% for a week straight. But then I followed it up with an afternoon at a park or a night in whilst my friends went out. If you are dealing with something that causes fatigue, try a more easy-going style of travelling. Prioritise what you really want to see, spend longer in one destination or have an open agenda.

Girl-jumping-at-disneyland-travel-disease

You realise your abilities

Last year I accidentally translated a conversation between a girl I was travelling with and a little old Italian lady on the train in Rome. Firstly, I didn’t even realise I knew that much Italian. Secondly, there was no one there to prove me wrong.

Have you travelled with a disease or illness? Share your stories with us here and you could see your work published on six-two…