When you have immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), you have to constantly keep track of your blood count to make sure it's within a healthy range. With this, and the many doctor’s visits and lab tests, it might make traveling with ITP seem nearly impossible.
However, with the right preparations, taking a trip for business or pleasure when you have ITP is still possible. Consider these nine tips before booking your next trip.
1. Tell your doctor about your plans
While traveling might seem like personal business, it's important to keep your doctor informed of your plans so they can help prepare you. For instance, they'll order the labs and prescriptions necessary to keep you safe throughout your travels.
You’ll also want to let them know if you’re going to travel outside of the country in case you need certain vaccinations, such as the malaria vaccine.
2. Obtain a letter from your doctor
Ask your doctor to write a letter detailing your ITP in case you have an emergency while you’re away. Keep this letter with you at all times and make a copy for your travel companions as backup.
You might also consider wearing an ITP medical bracelet to notify emergency personnel about your condition. Chances are, you may not need these items, but it’s best to prepare.
3. Take extra medications with you
Make sure you pack enough medication and an extra week’s supply just in case your travel plans get extended. Have your doctor write an additional prescription, too. This will come in handy if you run out of your steroids and other medicines, or if for some reason you lose your prescription entirely.
4. Consider travel insurance
Travel insurance is separate from your medical insurance. It helps cover medical emergencies, accidents, and changes in plans when you're away from home. Talk to the insurance provider about your ITP to make sure you have adequate coverage before departing on your trip.
Having travel insurance also covers your trip in case you have to cancel or reschedule due to your health. A bleeding episode, for example, can throw your plans off, but your travel insurance will do the work to get you refunds for any money you've already spent on various aspects of your trip.
5. Identify emergency services in your area
Before you travel, look up the information related to hospitals, drugstores, and doctors at your destination. In a notebook or on your smartphone, write down the addresses and phone numbers for each of these locales in case you need to make an emergency visit.
6. Ask your doctor about air travel
Flying with ITP is safer for some than others. The risk is an individual one, and it’s all based on your blood platelet count prior to travel. As a rule of thumb, platelet counts above 100,000 may be safe as long as you’ve had no recent bleeding problems. Your doctor will advise against air travel if your platelet levels happen to be too low.
7. Get up and move around often
One of the problems with air travel is that it can lead to issues with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), whether you have ITP or not. DVT can develop as a result of sitting down for an extended period. You're at risk of DVT during long-distance road trips, too.
Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn't take aspirin to prevent DVT if you have ITP. The best thing you can do is to stand up and move around as often as possible. If you’re stuck sitting for a long time, flex your legs and feet at the very least. Staying hydrated can help, too.
8. Make your trip accident-proof
In addition to looking up a doctor's office close to where you'll be staying, there are other precautions you can take in case of an emergency. For instance, pack night-lights and furniture edge covers, so you don't bump things and hurt yourself.
If you plan on doing any outdoor activities like riding your bike, make sure you wear protective gear like a helmet, as well as elbow- and kneepads. Pack extra gauze and compression bandages so you can treat any injuries promptly and lower your risk of a major bleeding episode.
9. Take your time and enjoy yourself
Everybody needs some time to relax and rejuvenate. Just because you're living with ITP, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy vacation time, although it might require a little more preparation for you.
Taking a vacation won't really amount to much if you're stressed about your condition the entire time. This is why it's crucial to take preventive measures and make sure your mind is at ease. The less you have to worry about while you're away, the more at ease you'll be.
Traveling with ITP may seem overwhelming, but it's possible. Work with your doctor to make sure you have all the necessary items and documents needed for your travel. This way, you can enjoy your travel experience with some peace of mind.