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Dealing with medical issues while traveling abroad

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I was talking with a friend the other day when she blurted out her biggest fear of traveling abroad. “What about medical issues? What do you do when something happens overseas?”

And I responded, “I go the hospital. They have doctors overseas too.”

Medical concerns are a huge issue for sure. Nobody wants to face the possibility of a serious injury with no access to medical facilities.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: they have doctors and hospitals overseas too. If people live there, there will be medical facilities – and many times, they’ll be better and cheaper than what you would find in the good ol’ US of A.

We’ve dealt with quite a few health crisis throughout the years. I broke my hand in Egypt, my son broke his arm in Malaysia. He suffered from pneumonia in Malaysia as well, while I waited until we got to Argentina to get it. My husband’s heart went into arrhythmia and he had to be evacuated to Israel in an air ambulance. We’ve sought out clinics in dozens of countries around the globe for various maladies and always managed to find a doctor. Always.

In fact, I would even go so far as to say that many times I’ve gotten better care abroad than I would have at home. In Mexico a knee specialist came in to his office on Sunday solely to see me when my knee suddenly erupted into severe pain. I was sitting in front of a neurologist 45 minutes after my head exploded with an excruciating headache. An MRI can be scheduled within hours rather than the weeks or months it takes in the USA.

Is it scary to deal with health issues far away from family and friends? You bet. It’s scary at home too, but having that support system in place makes it a bit more bearable.

But don’t fear medical issues while traveling because of a lack of facilities. Because… well, that’s not the way it is.

Nancy Sathre-Vogel is Mom to Family on Bikes, a family of four who cycled 17,000 miles from Alaska to Argentina. She is now living in Boise, Idaho and works to inspire others to live their dreams. You can read more at www.familyonbikes.org

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