Tag Archives: anxiety

Travelling with medication

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.

245/365 – Anxiety and myasthenia gravis

The fight or flight anxious energy we once felt when hunting wild animals for food and protecting our families is one of the inbuilt reactions that has stayed with us during human evolution. While the situations we feel it in have changed, most people suffer from symptoms of anxiety from time-to-time due to the demands of the modern world.

It can make you feel  upset, worried, shaky, light-headed, frustrated or that you are out of control. It also can bring on panic or anxiety attacks and leave you feeling physically sick. 

Anxiety is something I’ve heard many people with myasthenia talking about, but my first experience came long before my diagnosis. What triggered it out of the blue is something I’m still not sure of  but it was probably related to the long hours I was working as a journalist and with the other stressors at home. My life was hectic and I rarely stopped to relax. Out of the blue I started having panic attacks in the middle of the night, for a while every second or third night, and I felt completely out of control. 
Thankfully, I figured out how to control it with breathing techniques  and giving into what my body did during the attacks rather than fighting it.

Since having myasthenia, I’ve felt anxious sporadically but never to the same intensity. This is not everyone’s experience as many people develop anxiety after getting diagnosed with MG. 

The other day I was looking into anxiety while at Childline and realised I was having some of the symptoms described above. I’ve also had a panicky feeling for the last while that I’ve forgotten something. The fear feels like something is sitting on my chest and has been waking me up in the middle of the night. Even if I have forgotten something, it’s definitely not worth the way I’ve been feeling. 

After recognising this, I looked at anxiety and myasthenia. Many people were asking about it online and for drugs to treat it. I found the following interesting from this document on myasthenia and stress:

Anxiety from continual worry that new symptoms may appear; anticipation of day to day fluctuations in strength, or a fear of crises. Anticipation of medication side effects or potential long term side effects of steroids can also cause anxiety.

I can relate to this, particularly the bit about new symptoms and the potential long-term side effects of the medication causing anxiety. 

The same document has advice on steps you can take to deal with stress but not anxiety. However Childline has a page on managing your anxiety with some useful advice including boosting your confidence, exercise, relaxation techniques and challenging the negative thoughts. Having tried some of these coping strategies, even if you are sceptical, I would recommend giving them a try. It is also worth speaking to your doctor about the anxiety.