I had intended to write about my training regimen for the upcoming Mongol Rally, But an unexpected bout of pancreatitis landed me in the hospital. Being in the hospital is not all bad. Not only did I receive some of the best medical care in the world, I got to legally experience some incredible hallucinogenic pain killers AND I lost 7 pounds in 7 days without exercising!! While I’m not gonna miss the jello, I admit that I was beginning to enjoy the sponge baths.
Naturally my overnight transformation from a Road Warrior to Human Pin Cushion raised the inevitable question: What if my pancreas had decided to attack me on one of my road trips or worse yet while on the Mongol Rally? …Holy Health-care Batman! something else to worry about in preparing for this ultimate road trip.
I used to think that all you needed to successfully navigate through foreign countries was to know how to ask “where is the restroom?” The closest I’d ever been to a medical emergency while traveling abroad was in 2003. While with a tour group in Gadansk, Poland, a young lady asked our guide if he could take us to an apteka (pharmacy) because she wasn’t feeling well and needed some medicine. He happily obliged.
After several minutes of searching the isles, she finally got up the nerve to ask our guide if he could ask where she might find some hemorrhoidal ointment. While our guide spoke very good English, he was not familiar with the word “hemorrhoid” and asked for an explanation. The young lady was too embarrassed to reply, so being the gentleman that I am, I gave it my best shot using lots of hand gestures, to which the guide replied, “You make joke, right?” Thankfully the store’s proprietor must have been a good charades player because he quickly returned and handed the young lady a box of a product called Anurex.
My hospital stay awakened my need to be prepared medically as I plan for the Mongol Rally. So I made a checklist.
Get in Shape - Not only will being in shape lead to a speedier recovery should I get sick, it’ll make it a lot easier to walk through the desert should our yet to be purchased (contribute here:) car break down.
Get International Health Insurance – I’m not exactly sure how to go about doing that but hopefully some of my well-traveled friends will have some advice. All I know is that if I get sick in the Republic of Moldova, I’m pretty sure my health care plan is gonna say that I’m “out of network” and will refuse coverage because I didn’t have a referring physician.
Translated Medical Notes – I’ve got to prepare a list of all of my allergies, medical conditions, prescription medications, previous surgeries etc. and get it translated into the language of each country we’ll be visiting. I’m hoping that Google Translate is a great place to start.
Bring More Than Enough Prescription Medications for the Journey – Gotta contact my physician and insurance company and let them know that I’ll be out of the country for an extended period and need to make certain that I’m not without my medications should our trip be delayed – particularly my ADD meds – lest my teammates hate me… or lose me as I’m sure to wander off. I’ve already checked and there’s not a Wallgreen’s Pharmacy in Kyrgyzstan should I need a refill, so best be prepared.