July 18, 2013
Travel Journal (Day 2)
I woke up at 5:30am on Monday, July 15, 2013. Our flight was not supposed to leave until 11am, but I wanted to jog before getting on the plane. Since I now know I have a blood clotting disorder called Factor V Leiden, I have been proactive about my health. Anyone who flies for longer than two hours should be, but especially those with medical conditions that could affect their travels.
Because I have Factor V Leiden, I am more prone to blood clots, pulmonary emboli, and even strokes. The fact that I was going to be on a plane for at least 8 hours (not to mention the connecting flights), I knew that I had to prepare my body. So, I woke up early to jog. Jogging gets the heart pumping and blood flowing so that my body is geared and healthy. Furthermore, I did some yoga poses and breathing exercises while meditating. I felt great.
I also made sure to eat foods that were lower in sodium. I do not eat a lot of salt anyway, but I just watched what I ate. Most of my diet this morning consisted of fruit like apples and bananas as well as some yogurt.
On top of jogging and watching my food intake, I also took a higher dose of aspirin. My doctor has me on a low-dose aspirin regiment every day, but since she knows I travel often, she also told me to take a regular dose (325 mg) on days when I would be traveling either by plane or car for longer than two or three hours. I did some research and found that this would be beneficial for me considering my blood disorder. I do not know that everyone should do this, but if you have any blood disorder, talk to your doctor about your traveling options.
When flying, it is incredibly important to take care of your health. The final step I took was to drink lots and lots of water before getting on the plane and then continued to drink water during my flight. According to an article on The Atlantic, passengers should drink “At least one liter every five hours. That’s the recommendation from researchers from St. John’s University in Taipei. Dehydration on flights happens because passengers don’t drink enough water (half of the travelers surveyed by the Taiwanese scientists said they drink less than two cups of water when they fly), they drink too much booze and the cabin microclimate increases the rate of dehydration.”
Besides, nothing tastes so good as water, and nothing will make you feel better during a long flight and after you land.
Some other really good advice for all passengers deals with sitting. So many people spend their entire flights in their seats. This is not good for anyone (but especially those of us with medical conditions). There are several things you can do to help your body on long flights. First of all, make sure to get out of your seat every hour or two. If you drink enough water, your body will demand you do so. Even just a walk to the bathroom is good. Just a walk around the plane aisles helps the blood to circulate and pump.
You can also do some stretching exercises at your seat. Boeing has a website with explanation and visuals of some of these. Perhaps the most important for me is the foot pumps. In fact, my doctor suggested that I do these every hour or so. To complete the foot pump, just “Start with both heels on the floor and point feet upward as high as you can. Then put both feet flat on the floor. Then lift heels high, keeping the balls of your feet on the floor. Continue cycle in 30-second intervals.” Another good one is the ankle rotations or circles. For these, just lift your feet off the floor and rotate your ankles around. Some say to do one foot clockwise with the other counterclockwise and then switch. I tend to do both clockwise simultaneously and then both counterclockwise. By doing these, you continue to support your blood flow, which supports your health. I do these every hour or so regardless. I make sure that I am stretching my legs so that I can combat blood clots. Boeing suggests other stretches for the entire body, so it is a great resource for pre-flying prep.
Long distance flights can be brutal and uncomfortable, but with just some simple planning, you can make sure to keep yourself healthy. What you do before you board your plane can be just as beneficial as what you do during your flight. Taking the time to take care of yourself is important, so make sure you do so.
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