Traveling With My Partner and Endo
My partner and I are currently on a trip, slowly traveling across a few Greek islands. So far it has been beautiful, blue, hot, and relaxing, but also not without its challenges. Nowhere do these challenges present themselves more clearly than in my partner’s endometriosis management.
I have always tried to support my partner on her endometriosis journey and always will. Here are some of my reflections so far on issues that may present themselves when traveling and some solutions we’ve found.
Getting enough rest is essential
The first issue comes up right away, and that’s disturbed sleep. I’m sure a lot of you reading will have woken up in the wee hours to catch a flight, and have felt the effects of this days later.
For people with endometriosis who may have issues with fatigue, this can have even more of an impact. To account for this, obviously, try to get lots of sleep in the days leading up to departure, and get some rest the night before.
But to take this a step further, my partner and I vowed a few holidays ago that we would never take an early flight again. We now always travel from midday onwards to avoid having to wake up super early and compounding her fatigue.
Handling pain while traveling
Now obviously, there are limits and restrictions on what you can pack to take on holiday. This means that your partner may not be able to take all the painkillers, hot water bottles, heat pads, bath salts, etc. that they use to treat their pain.
If your partner’s chosen medications and treatments for endo flare-ups are specialist or difficult to find, you may not have any luck finding them when you land. It’s worth doing extensive research on what pharmacies or chemists are available where you’re headed and making room in your suitcase for things you won’t want to buy again, like a TENS machine.
Also, learn the local words for things like paracetamol, aspirin, etc. to make rushing to the store late at night in search of painkillers a little easier.
Learning food customs while away
Diet is a common management tool people with endometriosis use, and my partner is the same. She eats mostly plant-based and avoids certain potentially inflammatory foods like sugar and alcohol.
However, this can be less straightforward in other countries. For example, there’s a restaurant down the street as I’m writing that has a ‘vegan’ menu that heavily features cheese.
They aren’t trying to trick anyone, there’s obviously just a translation issue with ‘vegetarian’ and ‘vegan’. This has come up time and time again as we’ve traveled; ‘vegan’ products with dairy, ‘sugar-free’ actually meaning refined sugar-free and containing a lot of honey, etc.
If you don’t speak the local language well, your best line of defense is to be vigilant and diligent. Ask about ingredients, double and triple-check what they mean, translate words on your phone, and be prepared for some long and confusing conversations.
Websites that specialize in helping travelers with diabetes, coeliac disease, vegan diets can be a really helpful resource.
Travel insurance is important
And finally, get travel insurance. This will differ depending on where you are, but in Europe, very inexpensive travel insurance can ensure that you receive affordable medical care wherever you are.
Make sure that you list endometriosis as a pre-existing condition and check the small print because you never know when endo, or an associated condition, may result in a trip to the hospital.
With a little forethought and some planning for the worst, my partner’s endo hasn’t been a problem on this trip. There are so many ways that endo can stop someone from living their life, but you don’t have to let it stop you from seeing the world.
Do you know someone that has made a difference with endometriosis advocacy?