Bethany Dodgson: Travel as a carer with a chronic illness
name is Bethany and I am 26 years old. I have F.V.S (Fetal Valproate Syndrome),
Epilepsy, M.E & an Underactive Thyroid. I currently work in the hospitality
industry as well as that, I am a carer for my mum and brother who have
challenges from a range of disabilities and medical conditions.
Because of all this, travelling or even a holiday can be a headache before we pick the destination! What type of medical insurance will we need? Is there any medication which is illegal in the country we wish to go to? Will the place be suitable for my mum or brother? how long will we be travelling for or issues at the airport, just to name a few.
With all the questions we need answering, its always best to start with the simple tasks: first pick the destination, for the last few years, I went to New York, U.S.A and will be taking my brother next year! After I have picked the destination, I check on the UK government website for information about medication, visa requirements etc. The next step can take a few days which is finding the best insurance cover (in 2011 I had my second seizure in Turkey which resulted in a week stay in hospital). As it gets closer to the date, I ring the airline I am travelling with and explain the conditions we have and that we will need assistance. Last year my local airport brought out invisible disability awareness lanyards and it made being in the airport so much easier for my brother. Border control made him feel at ease with everything and we got boarded first. Another task that needs to be completed is the doctors’ note to carry the medication into a different country.
The hardest thing about going on holiday is being worried you will take ill in a place where no one can help you. I have found from going away that is not the case. People can be cruel, but they can be so kind and helpful with anything you may need. I was travelling to my destination resort in Turkey when I was 13 years old with my family, at the rest stop I had a seizure (this was only my second one). I was taken to the hospital in Marmaris, where I would be staying, while the staff took care of me, they also took care of my mum and the bars around the hotel looked after her too. Towards the end of my hospital stay I was sick of hospital food and the local bar provided me with free meals until I was discharged.
As a person with a range of chronic illnesses (and being a carer) it can be a lot of stress and hassle thinking of holidays but with the right support and information it can be the most rewarding experience.
Can you relate to Bethany’s story? Please share your travelling and holiday experiences with us.