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Aim, Focus, Shoot - The HyPyC blog
Travelling with an Illness - Part 3 - Alcohol

We like to party, we like, we like to party (Vengaboyz lol??)

Part of travelling for many people involves going out to the local bars & clubs and getting blotto, smashed, pissed, drunk, whammed, hammered or whatever you want to call it! Who doesn't love a good night out in a strange new place, experiencing the local nightlife, sampling some local brew and generally having a good laugh? I would advise anyone to be careful when drinking, especially in a foreign country, however for someone with a serious medical condition I believe it is even more important to stay safe, be prepared and know your limits.

Always follow your doctors recommendations first and foremost – If they advise against drinking, it will be for a good reason!

In the following paragraphs I will share my experiences, advice and some (not so) good examples of how to look after yourself on a night out when dealing with a serious health condition. Feel free to check out my previous articles – Part 1 (Medication) & Part 2 (Travel Insurance), and if you have any advice or experiences please drop me an email or a comment!

Alcohol and Medication

This is a really important one, if like me, you take regular medication that has a great effect on your condition (My tablets are "anti-rejection" drugs that stop my body rejecting my transplanted Kidney) then you must take precautions. The last thing you want is for something to go wrong with your tablets, potentially causing a major health issue.

Enjoying a drink in the Bauhaus Hostel in Bruges

1. Do not take tablets while drinking: Alcohol can affect how tablets are absorbed into your blood stream or can stop the tablets from working as they should. If you have to take medication at specific times try and take them before you head out. If it's unavoidable and you have to take them while you are out, take the tablets with a full glass of water, not a beer ;)

2. If you happen to be sick within an hour of taking any medication on a night out then you MUST take your medication again - An hour is the advised timeframe for how long it takes for tablets to be absorbed properly into your blood stream.

3. If you are taking medication with you on a night out, don't take your whole supply - This is common sense, but at least if you've had a few to many and you loose your medication, you won't have lost it all.

4. Carry with you a medication card that details the tablets you take, your illness and your contact details - I personally carry a steroid card that shows what tablets I take, together with my NHS number. In the case of an emergency, the attending medical staff will be able to check this card to see what medication they can give you etc.

Knowing your limits

I am not going to sit here and pretend that I behave impeccably when I go out - I'm English, I like a drink and I like a good night out. I don't always practice what I preach and I can't say that I have always looked after myself as good as I should have, with the medical condition I live with - That being said I know my limits and I generally know when enough is enough.

Enjoying a Bud in the Mediterannean
You know your own body and what you can do with it; don't let others dictate how you drink on a night out

This advise goes for anybody in general really, but it applies even more so to people who have a health condition - Go at your own pace, don't get into a drinking competition if you feel uncomfortable or can't drink that much. Don't mix your drinks too much - Try to stick on a particular type of drink, and don't go mental doing shots, drinking spirits and pints etc. Go out with a full (or at least partially full) stomach - I get drunk so quickly If I havn't had a decent meal beforehand, so I always make sure my stomach is lined and I have had a solid meal.

Drinking in the Hoof and Claw bar

Have a great time and a laugh, but if you have a health condition just be wary and sensible - There is a limit to what our bodies can take and there is absolutely no point in causing yourself permanent damage. I am eternally grateful for the transplant I have received and although I enjoy myself and sometimes go overboard, I do put my health first.

And now the embarrassing part...

To finish off I thought I would leave you with a couple of stories from my travels - Both of which are quite embarrassing and serve as a reminder why going overboard with the drink is not always a good idea!

At De Halve Maan brewery in Bruges

Jaegerbombs in Bruges - So, first solo trip, I'm in the hostel bar laughing away with some fellow travelers, it's 2 Jaegerbombs for 6 euro and I'm getting caught up in the atmosphere and going through them like water. I stumble back to my dorm, throw up in the sink, block the sink, then decide to empty it by scooping my sick into a plastic pin liner (With my bare hands), and throwing it out of the window....classy.

Brassic in Iceland - I knew Iceland was expensive but that didn't stop my friend and I spunking over half our holiday funds on the first night on booze - I will admit, it was a damn good night, but seeing our wallets the next day didn't help our hangovers at all. Furthermore, we had to be up bright and early for our Whale Watching trip the following morning... Yes, facing the cold Icelandic seas with a pounding head and queasy stomach....

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