Travelling with enough medication in my bag for my three month trip was an anxious experience. Let me list some of the situations that caused me to be nervous:
- every border between countries
- every airport security check
- every long bus journey where there were lots of stops before mine and I had to put my bag in the hold
- every time I left a hotel in a hurry
- every time I was in a hostel or hotel where I didn’t think my stuff was safe
- every time I felt my bag was unsafe on the street
I think you get the idea. And it’s not like I was carrying an illegal haul – this was prescribed medication but carrying around 140 pills isn’t something I’ve ever done before. My mind kept jumping to them being confiscated or lost and I had no idea whether I would be able to get more and then I worried that our dream trip may have to be cut short. Along with my passport, the meds were literally the only thing that I couldn’t do without. Especially since my bank card wasn’t working…but that’s another story.
In the first week, I emailed my consultant to ask him for a confirmation of my steroid prescription. I had received a very helpful email from a reader and fellow myasthenic who said having a printed prescription and confirmation of the condition might be handy, but the email was the best I could do. Yet I worried because the email wasn’t translated into the relevant languages and I wondered whether the security guards would engage with them because they were digital. Lesson learned for the next leg of the trip.
When I started the trip I kept all my different types of medication – from painkillers to rehydration sachets – together. Then I split some of them into my other bag, to try to spread my anxiety about a bit and it helped. I buried a couple of packets in beside my walking gear that was mostly unused after Nepal and hoped the south East Asian sniffer dogs were as worn out by the sun as their stray brothers.
Despite all that anxiety, there was only one incident where my medication bag was searched and even that was done rather indifferently by an airport guard in Singapore. That was definitely the most strict country we travelled to where we were told on the plane just as we arrived that if we were carrying any illegal drugs the mandatory punishment was DEATH. They didn’t elaborate by what method but my imagination raced.
And so the anxiety continued until I realised on reaching Bali, our last stop, that I felt a huge weight had been lifted.
As I prepare for the South American leg of my travels, I’m trying to keep that light feeling in mind and challenge a few of the anxieties that weighed me down in south east Asia. But I’m also taking a prescription and letter confirming the condition and my need for medication.