Dealing with sickness abroad

If you have kept up with our travels, you would know we have had our fair share of illness with the girls. What do you do when your kids get sick onboard and abroad? You are miles from help and there condition depends on how you treat them until you can get to help.

Being 100% responsible for your children and there welfare is a daunting thought. You are no longer just Mum or Dad. The minute you set sail you are now parent/doctor/nurse/teacher/ whatever else you may become. Your kids depend on you, the last thing they want to see in our eyes is panic.

We have had alot of learning curves thrown our way. Hopefully by me sharing them with you, you can be that little more prepared for that moment when shit hits the fan.

Firstly I would reccomend you creating your own first aid book. I carry several onboard, one that will give you a step by step amputation procedure, one that talks all about antibiodics and how to administer them via a needle to the bum and several others. To me all this was useless information. I am never going to perform an amputation and in Aus you simply can’t buy antibiodics that is administered through injections. What I needed in a first aid book was ,everyday illness and how to deal with it.

When we left Australia we carried broad spectrum antibiodics for the girls and one bottle of special antibiodics in case AK had a relapse to a prior illness. We thought we were organised and well equipped. How wrong could we be. Broad spectrum will cover you till you get to help, but they don’t treat everything.

Research the countries you are going to and make yourself well known with the local illness’s. Beany suffered giardia and selmonella at the same time. We didn’t carry antibiodics that would cover this. In turn Beany became extremely unwell rapidly. If we had known the sign, syptoms and how to treat it we would not have had the drama we did. Be sure to carry antibiodics that treat selmonella poisioning. You will be eating the local cuisine and food standards aren’t up to scratch in the pacific. You will almost certainly at some point get food poisioning, if you are unlucky you will get selmonella. This is food poisioning on steroids ! Impetigo is also another infection that runs rampant in the pacific. Kids are bound to pick it up. Carry antibiodic cream and oral antibiodics that will treat impetigo. If it’s mild the child only needs washing and cream, if they get it over their whole body and are in pain, oral antibiodics will give you a quick fix and put the child out of their misery.

Your first Aid book should cover, the local illnesses, how to treat them and what the symptoms are. Since our drama with beany we now have over 50pages of local illness, antibiodics that will treat it, the symptoms and where the illness is most common. Include things that you have been immunised against, as we found out immunisation isn’t always bullet proof.  You can never have too much information.  “Where there is no doctor” is a great book which can be downloaded for free.  See below link

Medical through out the pacific is hard to come by. The nurses love to give out amoxycillin a broad spectrum antibiodic with out doing any test. If you are unfortunate to need a doctor in the pacific, you need to go in well armed with information on what you think you might have. From experience this is the only way to get help. Ask for blood test, stool test, be assertive. don’t let them give you oral rehydration salts and a box of amoxycillin and send you on your way. If you do get blood test I would always recommend bringing your own syringe just in case.

If you aren’t getting through to the doctors and you feel your child is quite unwell, don’t be affraid to ring your embassy, or high commisioner. We have had to ring both in times of desperation. They are always very helpful and very understanding of your situation. Make sure you know their numbers. If you have travel insurance, the embassy can arrange almost anything for you, to get you the medical attention you require. If you have the options of a private or public hospital, always go private. In private you are a paying customer, you will be seen. In public you are another number in the queue. Ask on the radio at the anchorage or on your radio net. Chances are there will be a nurse or a doctor in the fleet.Speaking to some one with a medical background over the radio will you calm you down and make you feel in control of the situation.

As for accidents, you must have a well stocked first aid kit. I read a first aid book on how to put in stitches. In reality this is never going to happen. Would you like to stitch up a 2yr old? Carry lots of butterfly clips or steri strips. They come in handy for everything. You can also never have enough gauze. When blood starts spurting from a forehead, you must stay calm. I always get the shakes, but I make sure my voice doesn’t tremble. Always have something cold in the fridge to put on the wound and a few lollies in the first aid kit. A lolly will calm a child down almost instantly, especially when they are a special treat.

Remember once you leave the shore if you aren’t prepared for the worst, the worst will happen. Take the extra effort and the extra cost that will be involved in making sure you are equipped. Your kids will depend on you. If I knew what I knew now, we would of been a hell of alot better prepared. We could of saved ourselves a heap of drama, worry, stress and emotional trauma.

The more prepared you are the less stressfull it will be when your child becomes ill. I am not saying go crazy and buy every possible medication under the sun. I am saying be informed so when your child gets diarrhea you know when something needs to be done.

I have been to 5 hospitals in the pacific with my kids. I have seen first hand the state of the medical system in 4 different countries. I can tell you now, they are far from state of the art and they are certainly not a place you want to visit.

If you need help feel free to email me.




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