Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Fits, coughs and false starts

Well we have been in the wars.  When I came back from Scotland, I developed a cough.  Not a cold, just a cough.  But it was a hefty cough.  It started simply enough as a tickly one, but it soon developed into something much nastier that left me unable to breathe for a few moments each time an attack happened.

Sufficiently bothered by these breathless episodes, I took the unusual step of actually seeing the doctor, who gave me a couple of remedies in case of a few potential causes.

Happy that I was going to be on the mend, we decided to go off to Germany as planned.  But of course my cough wasn't enough.  Before we went to Germany, Nic who has epilepsy, had to break his seven years without a fit.  He didn't do himself any serious damage, just gave his mum a bit of a shock when he crashed to the floor in her kitchen, and gave himself a most impressive black eye.  The hospital gave him the all clear, and he felt OK, so we still made it to Germany, but were unsure whether we would make it away for our next year on 17 October.

Our GP was excellent, and pulled out the stops to get Nic an appointment with his consultant really quickly, and so he was seen, had his dosage upped and got his new prescription all in time for us to leave.  So we were back on track.  The insurance was less good news though.  With Nic as an epileptic who had had no recent seizures, the additional premium on our insurance last year was only £9; this year, because he had a seizure just under four weeks before we were due to fly out, that went up to around £320.  Ah well.  

So Nic was set to go, but my cough had still not got any better, and because it made me so breathless, it was pretty clear that I was not well enough to go off lugging around a heavy rucksack.  A second trip to the GP brought about a chest X-ray and more tablets.  Thankfully the X-ray showed there was nothing serious, but as there had still been only a slight improvement, more tablets were given.  And as I actually managed to cough in front of the doctor this time, he agreed that it sounded a lot like whooping cough, so did a throat swab for that.

So with all this ongoing, and me still coughing, we postponed our flight.  Because I had seen some improvement, and both potential causes of my coughing were straightforward, we rebooked for two weeks later to 30 October.

Of course things still couldn't be that easy though.  The throat swab came back from the lab untested as apparently it should have been a nasal swab.  So back to the GP to do that, and with time tight and having missed their post collection, we drove the swab over to the hospital pathology lab ourselves.    But when I phoned for the results this time, it was still no good, because they had done the wrong type of nasal swab.  And they had to get the right type sent over from the hospital stores.

Thankfully, by this time my coughing had improved a lot, and I was now feeling well enough to travel.  So we called the insurance company for confirmation that we could still go and be covered, and they agreed that it was fine, the only thing they would exclude was whooping cough if it turned out to be that.  As that isn't likely to cause any problems, we decided we could go ahead.  The other good news was that as Nic's fit was now not in the last four weeks, just the last six months, the extra premium for him dropped down to only £119, so at least we had a £200 saving to offset against the costs of having had to change the flights.

I still have a bit of a cough, but I am feeling much better, so we flew out on 30 October as rescheduled.  We now only have two weeks in Cuba rather than the expected four, but at least we still get to go.

And as it turned out, the delay may have been a blessing in disguise.  On 25 October Hurricane Sandy hit Cuba, causing widespread damage in Santaigo de Cuba and the Bayamo area, and killing at least eleven people.  Had we gone to Cuba as originally planned, we would probably have been in that area.  So perhaps we managed to avoid a bit of a disaster there.

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