Five Things I Learned While Traveling Solo After Having a Stroke
At a young age of 24, I already had a stroke — Intracerebral Hemorrhage to be exact. And although I was fortunate that it wasn’t as bad as other cases, the first months were indeed not my best moments. I even had to cancel my birthday trip to Cebu and almost missed a family trip because of my condition. But one year later, I was able to convince the people around me that I am still capable of traveling solo — as a female and as a person with chronic illness. And in this post, I’m sharing with you guys what I have learned so far while traveling solo even with a stroke history.
1.Traveling solo even with chronic illness is often possible
Some solo travelers are using crutches or a wheelchair. Others need regular checkups now and then, but still manage to travel around the world. Just because you suffered from a brain attack or received a diagnosis of a condition that would require a lot of tests and a bunch of medication doesn’t mean that you already have to say goodbye to your dreams to travel the world. It may be hard to make it easy for some of us, but with careful planning and research, it is possible to make it happen.
2.But you need to take it seriously
Traveling or not, we all need to take our health seriously — more so if we are flying solo. We need to make time researching and preparing for each part of the trip. Being on vacation or your great escape doesn’t mean that you have to ditch the follow-up checkups. As for me, I always see my doctor before or after my trips. At least, he knows what I’m doing and what I’ve done. That way, we can work things out to make a life of travel feasible for me.
You’re lucky when you have a strong support system. But don’t forget that it all starts with you. Not skipping your meals, taking your medicines on time and getting enough rest are just the basics. Some adjustments need to be done sometimes depending on your condition. But the bottom line is: you need to take it seriously as your life depends on it.
3.You may need to compromise
Your doctor may not be as cheerful and supportive as mine, but it’s still a must to get a clearance from him especially when you’re doing an activity that needs his approval. I remember being allowed to travel outside the country two months after my stroke. But I was banned from going to the top of Burj Khalifa.
Unfortunately, there are times that you won’t be allowed to do something that you badly want to do. But you may have to compromise so that both parties agree. At least you’re not entirely giving up on traveling, right? There are still a lot of things to be thankful for despite the compromise.
4.Don’t push it if you can’t make it
Getting enough rest is vital when traveling. Even if you get a clearance from your doctor that you are allowed to do a specific activity, you still have to listen to your body. Are you ready for strenuous exercise or are you pushing yourself too hard? It’s understandable to think that you’ve saved so much money for your travels that’s why you want to make the most of it. But always keep in mind that your destination will still be there. My thinking is that I can always save again and go back to the same place at another time. But if I need to rest and stop now, I need to listen to my body.
When I went to Bangkok this year for my birthday, my knee pain got worse during my first full day. I was outside Wat Arun already, ready to pay for my entrance fee. But with one look at how high I was supposed to climb to get the full experience, I backed out and stayed outside instead. As a last resort, I waited for the sun to set and for the lights to light up finally. My knee was able to rest for more than an hour, and I was ready to go home without limping. Win-win situation, right? I do love traveling. But I’d also like to skip a hospital visit during a solo trip, thank you very much. That said, I promised myself not to be stubborn.
5. You can always take precautions, but you still have to be ready
You listen to your body, and you packed all your medications, alright. But whether it’s related to your chronic illness or not, it’s still possible to get involved in an accident or need immediate medical care while you travel. So, don’t forget to always have your details with you in case of emergencies. Are you allergic to any food or drugs? Do you have the phone number of anyone back at home that people could contact in case of emergency? Do you know where the nearest hospital to your hotel is? Fill all the essential details before leaving and always keep in contact with your loved ones. You’ll never know when you’re going to need it badly.
Also, don’t forget to get yourself insured even during your travel time. It’s a non-negotiable. It’s not something that you want to use even if you pay a lot for it. But trust me, in case that you have to, you’ll be thankful that you signed up for it when you did.
(Note: First aid kit pouch from Paccube)
The rest of my life is now "traveling with chronic illness." But who cares? It’s not like I won’t be able to do something about that, right? Having a chronic disease may be unfortunate, but it shouldn’t be a hindrance to enjoy life. As we go along, we discover to make ourselves more adaptable and resilient. Instead of thinking about having a chronic illness as a hurdle or a nuisance when it comes to traveling, I’m just going to think of it as something that will make me stronger. And after all, isn’t that what we all want to be?