As I have been traveling to promote my book and women in Parkinson’s issues, I am reminded of some of the perils of traveling which can make anyone a bit discombobulated but for those of us who suffer from a chronic illness like PD it can really throw us for a loop.
I absolutely love traveling and I am absolutely thrilled to be feeling so much better to be able to do this on my own after having to depend on someone for a while. However, I am reminded of my illness each time I leave my home by the number of medicines I have to pack in order to be able to enjoy my travels. It is sad that packing my medications takes me twice as long than actually packing my clothes.
The first thing we have to keep in mind when we travel, especially if going across various time zones, is the time changes when we are trying to keep up with our medication schedule. I find it a lot easier to go west than east. What I do is I continue to take my medicines as scheduled through out the trip and when I arrive I switch to that time zone and then proceed to take my medications on the same schedule (meaning every 6 hours and so on) – however, we must be aware of the time it has actually passed ..make sure you maintain the same hours between dosage so if you just took a medicine and arrived and now is time to take another medicine because it is noon for instance don’t double the dose wait til next dosing time ..but if you took medicine 5 hours ago and now new time zone indicates that you will have to wait another 3 hours but you know you take your meds every 6 hours take the medicine within the hour and adjust schedule… Do not suffer …and always keep medicines handy in your personal belongings and within your immediate reach like in a purse and carry water with you to facilitate intake of pills. I always keep my medications in my purse in a pill box. Within this box, I also carry prn medications..in other words medications I don’t take on a daily basis but might need especially when traveling or sitting for a long period of time such as nausea medications, pain meds- like Tylenol & Motrin, migraine pills, and muscle relaxants.
Try to get seating with extra leg room and do stretch exercises while sitting every hour…stretch your neck, legs, back, and feet. You can do small circular motions of neck and limbs including hands and feet for five minutes…walk about if you can. Also, if you tend to swell, like I, do when sitting you might consider wearing Ted hose or support stockings to avoid deep vein thrombosis (DVT’s) as well as improving circulation and decreasing edema. Conversely, don’t wear tight socks that only go to your ankle- this will only worsen swelling rather use diabetic socks.
Since it is hard to take diuretics when traveling to decrease swelling, we must try to eat naturally diuretic foods like cucumber, lemons, tomatoes, and drink plenty of water especially if you are going to be out on the sun -need double amount of fluids. Drinking lots of water can actually help flush all the toxins out and is the most effective diuretic. Another way to eliminate fluid build up in your body naturally is to drink cranberry juice, or add cucumber or lemon wedges to your drinking water..of course any caffeinated drink will help to get rid of fluids but these will only dehydrate you in the end so not as healthy and do not recommend if traveling for long distances. Another food which has lots of natural diuretic effect is oats. Go ahead and have an oatmeal bowel before traveling or in the mornings while your traveling, not only will this help get excess fluids but will promote better digestion.
Drinking plenty of fluids also helps to improve digestion and decrease constipation which also makes us feel bloated and causes swelling. Because we sit so long when traveling, the natural peristalsis of our bowels decreases even further. Now compound that with medication intake side effects and PD itself and we are one miserable uncomfortable person with bloating, gas, increase nausea and poor absorption of our medications making them less reliable when we need them the most. I recommend taking ‘gas- X‘ or some equivalent..try to eat light like yogurts and take a probiotic capsule to stimulate proper digestion since I have found it extremely hard to take laxatives when traveling especially if have a packed schedule.
In flight or on your trip you can also drink Sprite, ginger ale (this also aids with Gi upset and nausea, plus ginger is a good diuretic). Eat dry fruits and crackers ..I like to carry with me ‘thin addictives‘ they make a great snack, easy & convenient to carry plus they have dry fruit and nuts to give you energy. If you are completely bloated and feeling constipated do a light liquid diet the first day when you arrive at your destination. Although, you will certainly need a nap after you arrive, if possible you should continue your exercise routine there- sometimes hard to do if are speaking or are sight- seeing, good thing is that usually sight seeing entails a lot of walking so you will have plenty of exercise). but don’t neglect your sleep..of course the sleep may be a bit messed up. in order to avoid jet lag carry melatonin 6mg – 1-2 tabs a night. when you are on vacation especially if at a tropical island you will be tempted as I have to do as the locals do and enjoy some nice alcoholic beverages with a little umbrella. however, we must be mindful of our alcohol intake for several reasons.
1) initially it can make you sleepy after a few hours it becomes a stimulant disrupting your sleep wake cycle further and making you more lethargic and fatigue.
2) it is extremely dehydrating.
3) can worsen REM behavior
4) can interfere with your medications
5) increases swelling
When you get to destination and en route eat plenty of vegetables like carrots, asparagus, tomatoes, beets and celery which also are natural diuretics. ( I emphasize the diuretics because all of the Mao inhibitors, along with the amantadine and dopamine agonist cause a lot of fluid retention especially in us women). The above foods are also healthy and can cause some slimming effect especially oat consumption. Did not our mothers tell us we are what we eat? Seems like there is a lot of truth behind this saying…Even before trip should avoid salty foods and no high fatty meals in transit especially if crossing several time zones.
I have learned these perils the hard way making me look like a 9 month pregnant woman while traveling because I am unable to take my Linzess, & my diuretic pills because I am on the go and don’t want to have an accident or be detained every few minutes looking for a bathroom worst sometimes is hard to keep a eating schedule as I would at home one thing we must always remember is that WHEN we eat is as important for us living with PD as WHAT we eat. so next time you are packing your suitcase getting ready for a travel adventure keep some of these points in mind to avoid the perils and focus on the FUN & Joy of it all!