Medical charades: Sickness on the road

It turns warm outside and of course I get sick. It seems like illness always strikes at an inopportune time although let’s admit it . . . there is NEVER a good time to be sick. All the tissues and blankets got me thinking about all of the times I’ve faced illness while traveling and how I’ve never let it keep me from enjoying (or at least seeing) a destination. Being sick while traveling can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be the end of a good time and sometimes it adds a little memorable moment to a vacation that you can joke about. Of course, you should wait until enough time has passed for all involved parties!

The first time I faced something more serious than a gurgly tummy while far from home was a trip to Spain during college. On our way there I started feeling a little congest, but shrugged it off as altitude issues. By the time we landed I couldn’t hear out of my right ear and thought maybe something a little stronger than chewing gum was needed. So after a fun game of charades the lovely pharmacist was able to give me an over the counter remedy. I still have no idea what I took, but whatever it was it worked.
Looking back I probably should have taken note of what I was taking. But here are a few tips and things I have done correctly as we have faced flu, full body poison ivy, diaper rash, and a slew of other ailments while on the road. So if you ever find yourself feeling under the weather and facing language barriers and more here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Ask at the hotel concierge. Most front desk staff are fluent enough in English, your broken attempt at their language, or the fall back game of charades to point you to a good source for help.
2. Go to a reputable pharmacy if you can find one. This is especially important in a place where you are unfamiliar with the language. Symbols for medical professionals are pretty universal.

Italian pharmacy sign

Italian pharmacy sign

Chinese pharmacy sign

Chinese pharmacy sign

(They look VERY similar!)

3. Make sure you understand the dosage. I had the pharmacists write down exact times I should take my medicine so there was no confusion.

4. Make your traveling companions aware of what you are taking and where to find the medicine in case you have an adverse reaction. If something happens medical personnel need to be able to look at the medicine you are taking.

5. Travel with a mini kit of basics – pain reliever, antibiotic, rash cream, antibacterial – for minor issues.

6. Keep your doctor’s number with you. If you think it is something you need medicine for you can start with a call to your doctor for some advice on what you can take and what to look for. I have done this on domestic trips with great success, but a little less success on international excursions.
Most ailments you face at home or on the road are minor and soon pass so don’t let a little sniffle keep you from enjoying what could be your only visit to someplace.



Happy EASTER!!!

So I was all set for a full on post this week, but my family came from Illinois to celebrate Olivia’s second birthday (which falls on Easter this year) so I decided to stash my ideas away for another day. Instead we have spent the time enjoying the warm weather that finally decided to grace us here in Minnesota, cooking, watching movies, and just laughing and talking. So wherever you are today enjoy the time with loved ones, a lot of treats, and be thankful for every second of it.


Interval training for life

March was a tough month. I spent most of the month super excited about a job opportunity at a non-profit. I ended up being one of the top candidates, but didn’t get it. Then a merchandising position with a major retailer came my way and I made in in for final interviews, but didn’t get an offer.

All of this was, however, overshadowed by family changes. My grandfather went in and out of the hospital with pneumonia and congestive heart failure. Scary to say the least. And at the end of the month we lost my Aunt Robin to her battle with brain cancer.
Through all of this stress and change there is one thing I make sure I do for myself. Grab my sneakers. Working out keeps me sane, gives me perspective, and gets the positive energy surging.

Between work, job searching, grad school, being a mom, and traveling back to Illinois time for a long run or a one hour yoga class doesn’t always fit in the schedule. With just some workout clothes, sneakers, and my phone’s stop watch I can accomplish a great workout in only 15-20 minutes.

Shortly after having Olivia I realized my days of hour long runs was a memory (hopefully not forever) and I would need to mix it up a bit. That is when I started interval runs. In a fifteen minute run I can feel like I just ran a half marathon. This can be done on a treadmill or outdoors, but I’ve found I’m more effective on the treadmill. Here is a quick run you can try:
Minute 1-2 easy jog (Ex: speed of 6)
Minute 3 sprint or incline (Ex: speed of 6.5 or incline of 3)
Minute 4-5 easy jog
Minute 6 sprint or incline
Minute 7-8 easy jog
Minute 9 sprint or incline
Minute 10-11 easy jog
Minute 12 sprint or incline
Minute 13-14 easy jog
Minute 15 sprint or incline
Minute 16-20 cool down at easy jog/walk


Recently I added Tabata workouts as well so I can squeeze in 4 minute exercise sprints while watching TV or playing with Olivia. String a few of these together and you have one heck of a workout. The great thing about Tabata is it can be done with almost any exercise with or without equipment. A few examples include lunges, mountain climbers, jump rope, push-ups, planks. Pick an exercise and set your stop watch. For twenty seconds perform the exercise at full intensity while maintaining good form. Rest 10 seconds then back at it for twenty seconds. Continue this twenty on, ten off for four minutes. It sounds simple, but by the end I promise you will be sweaty and sore. If you search online for tabata workouts you will find a variety of options.

Besides realizing I can get a great workout in a shorter amount of time I realized that I could use a little interval training for life. Everything might hit all at one time, but those moments of rest will come. I might be sore afterwards, but I’ll be stronger and better for it.

What do you grab when life gets rough?