The Immunosuppressed Passenger

The most stressful part about living with a chronic condition on surviving on immunosuppressant drugs is when massive epidemics happen, people like us are at higher risk for contracting and suffering the most extreme outcomes. We live behind masks. Have dry hands from constantly washing and bathing in hand sanitizer. And skip on social gatherings when someone starts sneezing and coughing. It’s almost like danger lurks around every corner, waiting in the shadows to get you regular people sick!

I suppose that’s why when the Coronavirus hit the news, I was very calm about it. Over 56k people die from the flu or flu-related illnesses every year. FIFTY-SIX THOUSAND! Danger, disease, and catastrophe lurk everywhere all the time. I also lived through the AIDS epidemic in the ’80s & ’90s. The combination of misinformation and bigotry I witnessed taught me to give pause at the first sign of what people begin calling an epidemic and try to find a place of rationale to deal with it. Now, as a patient, I will admit that sometimes not jumping to conclusions and into a sphere of fear and panic can be hard to do. I have a compromised immune system; Hippo has a compromised immune system, as well as a lot of the people I love. So it’s hard. But I often go back to the place of thinking about the fact that danger lurks at every turn. I am always at risk, but I do not panic. I do continue to live my life, work, travel, and socialize.

Quite often, when I am traveling, it is usually in the thick of the flu season. And very often, my only issues for traveling are dehydration and extraintestinal manifestation flares. I rarely get normal people sick away from my child. I mean, let’s face it; kids are magnets for germs and sick buggies. One might argue, I might be a little more healthy while traveling because I am taking more precautions while moving through airports and changing hotels. So now, with the threat of Coronavirus hanging over our heads, patients are finding themselves worried about traveling.

TEN TRAVEL TIPS

Here are ten tips I use while traveling with a compromised immune system through the flu season.

1.

I don’t use a reusable bottle at the airport. Buy unopened bottled water instead.

2.

Wear socks

3.

Wipe down seats and air vents

4.

But a day pass for airline lounge to use the bathroom for long layovers

5.

Buy packaged food

6.

Bring your own soap in the bathroom

7.

Travel toilet paper and toilet seat covers

8.

Remove travel clothes and bag up immediately

9.

Shower once in the hotel room

10.

Bring own blanket and pillow (long haul flights)

HAND WASHING vs. HAND SANITIZER

Some people think that hand sanitizer is enough. Unfortunately, it is not. The best thing you can do is consistently wash your hands with warm water and soap thoroughly. You can also use Hand Sanitizer as well. Purell has a higher alcohol percentage, so it is the better sanitizer. However, for those of us with skin issues, the Babyganics foaming or the hand sanitizer wipes has been a great alternative. My personal favorite is the Mandarin Orange, as the smell of sanitizer is triggering for me since my surgery. As far as a lotion is concerned, I’ve noticed that my favorite lotion & oil combination is like a dirt attractor. But the sensitive skin Eucerin or Curel soaks in quicker and doesn’t leave a residue or attract more ickiness. I know for me, lotion is almost mandatory because of how dry my skin is. But because of this, I do make sure I am constantly washing and sanitizing my hands as well.

WHAT’S IN MY BAG?

With or without my child, my bag pretty much stays the same. I keep these items in there to help not only make my traveling easier but also making my travel healthier.

Paper Soap

Hand & Face Wipes

Lysol Wipes

Travel Toilet Paper

Travel Toilet Seat Cover

Band-Aids

Lotion

Travel Blanket

Bags for Clothes

Stay Calm

The worst thing we can do with anything is panic. Panicking doesn’t solve the problem; it only increases the issue and slows us down from finding a solution. So, I know that the idea of traveling during this situation is scary, but if it were more of an issue than flying during flu season, all transport would be grounded. My advice is to be a little more diligent with making sure you wash your hands and clean surfaces around you. Keep your hands out of your face, mouth, and eyes. And listen to your body.

The best way to stay abreast of all of the information about the Coronavirus can be found on the CDC website. This is the best place to get your information. Don’t worry, guys! It’s going to be okay!