The biggest challenge we expect to have on our trip to SE Asia will be:
• storing insulin
• avoiding rabid dogs
• avoiding unexploded ordinances
• travelers diarrhea
• sleep deprivation
So, which one do you think it is?
Imagine us on a slow boat, meandering our way down the Mekong , enjoying the sight of small villages on the shores and suddenly someone yells “the insulin!”. Four months supply forgotten in the sun and ruined. Now what? Insulin must be constantly refrigerated until it is being used. This is one scenario that could disrupt our trip. Knowing where to get replacement insulin will be important and could involve an emergency trip to some place like Singapore. Looks like we need to do a little homework. Good planning starts with anticipating crises and having a contingency plan.
Rabies is a very real threat in SE Asia. An exposure would most likely come from the bite of a dog or monkey. Dave has a real love of dogs and will approach almost any dog. So it looks like we will be keeping him on a short leash! We will be getting vaccinated for rabies before we leave Canada, but if we are bitten immediate follow up treatment is required. Disinfecting the area is the first line of defense. This must be followed up with two additional doses of vaccine, preferably one on the day of the exposure and one three days later. At a minimum these shots need to be received within a week of the exposure. As there is anticipated to be a world wide shortage of rabies vaccine, we may have to make an emergency trip home if someone (Dave) is bitten. That would put Dave in the dog house! (Note: the cost of rabies vaccine is approximately $160/dose and three doses each are needed before the trip. Total cost for our family $1920, yikes. But considering rabies is fatal, its worth it for the peace of mind).
Remember the Vietnam War? (Suitably called the American War in Vietnam). South East Asia is littered with unexploded ordinances (UXO) from that war. To this day people in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are regularly injured or killed by UXOs and sadly an estimated 50% or more of victims are children. So NO picking up unusual objects off the ground and NO off-road wheelchairing! This would be such a devastating accident, we won’t even go there!
There is an oral vaccine against Montezuma’s Revenge but it is only 60% effective. The best strategy is to avoid getting it by drinking only bottled water (or better yet, beer) and being very careful with raw vegetables and fruit. So much for Mom’s “vegetables are NOT optional” rule. If anyone gets sick we will have a strategy for dealing with it, but severe dehydration is a concern. Depending on where we are medical evacuation might be needed. Better make sure our health insurance covers this. (We will carry water purification drops, in case we don’t have access to bottled water in rural areas. )
Of all the potential challenges, though, sleep deprivation is the one that is most likely to have an impact on our trip. Kasenya is amoungst the more than 20% of kids with CP who also have a pathological sleep disturbance. This means that she wakes several times per night without explanation and needs our help in getting back to sleep. As with most of us, being away from home can exacerbate sleep problems for Kasenya. Sleep deprivation is especially effective in “grinding you down” and reducing your tolerance to emotional, physical and immune system stress. Sleep deprivation can negatively impact our lives, our health and our travel experiences. Keep reading to see how we cope!
Bissky Dziadyk Family
Travelling the world as a family since 2008.
In September 2008 our family embarked on a four month journey through South East Asia. Traveling with a child who uses a wheelchair presented its challenges, but following the Mekong River through China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam with a wheelchair was truly an adventure.
When we move beyond our fears and embrace our dreams, the Universe has an odd way of not only supporting us but giving us more opportunities than we ever imagined. Embarking on a journey with an open heart we can not help but be changed forever by the experience. Indeed it would be a waste to return untouched in the spiritual realm.
September: China (Beijing, Xi’an,Kunming, Yuanyang)
October: Northern Vietnam (Hanoi, Halong Bay) and
Laos (Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane)
November: Southern Vietnam (Hue, Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta)
December: Cambodia (Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang, Kampot and Sihanoukville).