According to the emergency room doctor, pericarditis is surprisingly common in women over 50. And since women 50+ like to travel, traveling with pericarditis is also quite common! If you’re planning a trip and you’ve been diagnosed with pericarditis or a form of pericardial heart disease, you’ve landed in the right place.
Two weeks ago when I wrote 5 Things to Consider Before Going on a Pilgrimage to India, I had no idea I’d soon be searching for travel tips for women with pericarditis. I was diagnosed with pericardial heart disease a few days ago. Pericarditis is fluid around the heart — an inflamed pericardium — and it causes extreme pain on the left side of the chest. Lots of pain. Terrible pain.
So while I’m taking anti-inflammatories (Advil, or ibuprofen) as a pericarditis treatment, I’m also applying for visas to visit India and Nepal in three weeks. I’m searching for travel tips for women traveling alone to Nepal and India. I’m booking hotels and looking into group tours. And I’m asking myself, “Is it safe to travel with pericarditis?”
Maybe you’re here because you’re wondering the same thing. Should you travel even though you were recently diagnosed with pericardial heart disease? I don’t have solid answers for you (or even for me!), but one thing I know for sure: I’m still planning to go on my trip to India and Nepal. I may be a woman over 50 traveling alone with pericarditis, but I’m not ruled by fear or anxiety. I refuse to look back on my life or wonder “what if?” I want to have no regrets.
After you read this article, or even while you’re reading, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. Whether or not you’re traveling to India and Nepal alone, and even if you’re not a woman with pericarditis, I’d love to hear what you think. I also welcome your random health and travel tips for women 50+ 🙂
7 Health and Travel Tips for Women With Pericarditis
I’m still adjusting to the idea of having pericardial heart disease. I was diagnosed four days ago and I’m not even 50 years old yet, to be honest. I don’t turn 50 for four months, but I always practice being a year older by wearing my new age a few month before it hits. I’ve found this an especially helpful way to ease into a new decade.
Writing also helps me ease into new seasons of life, which is why I’m writing travel tips for women with pericarditis. When I turned 40 I wrote 17 Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Your 40th Birthday. Now that I’m almost 50, I guess God wanted to up the game and give me something more meaningful to write about! And here we are.
1. Fortify yourself with relevant information
Here’s the wrong question: Should you travel alone as a 50 year old woman with pericarditis? Here’s the wrong people to ask: Your fearful friends, anxious family members, and conservative coworkers who have never traveled to Hawaii much less India or Nepal or wherever you’re going. And here’s the wrong way to do research: search the internet and read random blog posts and comments from women who are not traveling with pericarditis and whom you know nothing about.
Here’s the right question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how comfortable am I traveling alone with this type of heart disease? Here’s the right person to ask: You. And the right way to do your heart disease research: Talk to your family doctor, cardiologist, and pharmacist. Search the internet for health and travel tips for women over 50 who have traveled with various types of medical conditions, diseases and issues. Remember that every woman and every health issue is different. Don’t get scared. Get informed.
2. Ask yourself if you should travel alone with pericarditis
My husband — who can’t go with me because of his work schedule — would not travel to India and Nepal if he was just diagnosed with pericardial heart disease. I have a feeling most people would say something similar. “Are you kidding?” they may exclaim. “Traveling alone to India and Nepal is just asking for trouble. But a woman over fifty diagnosed with pericarditis and traveling alone? You must be insane!”
Nope, I’m not insane. I can see the risks in this trip. But as a 50 year old woman I also know myself, my body, and my relationship with God. And, fortunately, I love traveling alone and have even written articles such as How to Stop Feeling Homesick When You’re Traveling Alone and How to Meet People When You’re Travelling Alone. But, I haven’t written any article on pericardial heart disease yet, but have written about my other chronic health issues (ulcerative colitis, bunions, and how to pray for healing in your body).
3. Tune into your body, mind, and spirit
I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when I was 29 years old. I knew it was a chronic untreatable disease. I thought it was a fatal diagnosis because my friend almost died from her ulcerative colitis. When I was diagnosed with colitis, I was already booked for a six-week trip to Egypt and Israel. I was supposed to go on that trip — alone — a month after my diagnosis; the gastroenterologist (gut doctor) advised me not to travel. I went anyway, and have never regretted it. That trip changed my life.
There is a small church and guest house in Jerusalem called Christ Church Cathedral. It’s just in the walls of the Old City. I spent hours there, just sitting and praying and reflecting on my life. I made peace with my death. I didn’t think I’d reach my 30th birthday (much less celebrate my 50th birthday by traveling alone to Nepal and India!). My time in that church — and in Egypt and Israel — was deep, meaningful, and transformative. I’m so glad I didn’t listen to the doctor. She was speaking out of fear and anxiety, not intuition or spirit.
4. Learn how to take care of your heart
Treatment for pericarditis seems simple: 600 mg of ibuprofen (Advil) three times a day for one week. Then 400 mg of ibuprofen three times a day for one week. Also — lots of rest! Apparently most female cardiac patients ignore this critical health advice. The emergency room doctor also referred me to a cardiologist (heart specialist) for a variety of heart disease tests and measures. The heart clinic staff will check my heart, specifically the status of the pericardium, for inflammation and infection. I won’t see the cardiologist until after my trip to India and Nepal, so can’t get his or her opinion. But maybe that’s okay.
I haven’t done much research on treatments for pericardial heart disease in women over 50. I have, however, done lots of research — both online and on-the-ground — research on women traveling alone in countries like India and Nepal! I have an appointment booked with my family doctor this week; she’ll give me tips on taking care of my heart, reducing the risk of another pericardial inflammation, and traveling with heart disease. I’m learning how to take care of my heart; this helps me feel more comfortable traveling alone with pericarditis.
5. Talk to an objective friend, mentor or health counselor
Should you travel as a woman 50+ if you have a heart disease? The reason I don’t think that’s a good question is that there is no right or wrong answer. Good and bad things will happen on your trip; good and bad things will happen if you stay home. Your heart disease — the pericarditis — may get worse if you travel. Especially if it’s not lying-on-the-beach type of travel. But your pericarditis might get worse even if you stay home. My emergency room doctor advised lots of rest and no heavy lifting. I can ignore or follow her health advise no matter where I and or choose to travel.
If you aren’t sure how comfortable you feel traveling alone with pericardial heart disease, talk to someone objective. Don’t ask for her medical opinion or even health advise. Just ask her to listen while you talk through the pros and cons of taking a trip alone. Talk about the symptoms of your of pericardial heart disease. Discuss the treatments and prognosis. You’ll find your answer to the “should I travel alone as a woman with pericarditis?” question.
6. Discern between a pilgrimage and a vacation
I’m traveling to India and Nepal alone because I’m a woman turning fifty. I’m approaching the second half of my life and I want a meaningful journey — both through the rest of my life and to Asia! I’m going on a spiritual pilgrimage, not a resort beach vacation, jungle adventure or African safari. My travel plans are designed to help me grow closer to God, see Jesus wherever I go, and be guided by the Holy Spirit. I’m not going on vacation to relax. I’m going on a spiritual pilgrimage to get closer to God’s heart.
In fact, a diagnosis of a heart disease like pericarditis is exactly what I need to enhance the power of my pilgrimage! I yearn to be more fully dependent on and connected to God. I want to be more alert to God’s presence, more aware of the Holy Spirit’s whispers, more connected to Jesus Christ. I thought being a woman over 50 traveling alone to India and Nepal would be meaningful…but having pericardial heart disease is even more powerful.
- If you’re traveling to Cuba, Maui or Belize for a hot holiday, yay! Read What to Pack for a Beach Resort Vacation.
- If you’re going on a pilgrimage or spiritual journey, read 10 Travel Gifts to Make the Trip Exciting and Comfortable.
- If you’re going to Vietnam, Cambodia or Thailand, read 10 Things You Need to Know About Traveling in Vietnam.
7. Be alert to God’s presence in your heart disease, travel plans, and life
Here’s the most important travel tip for women over 50 with pericardial heart disease: Take a good hard look at your faith. Who are you in God? Who is Jesus Christ to you? What is your relationship with the Holy Spirit?
The key to a peaceful, joy-filled life — whether you go on pilgrimages or stay in your own home — is to rest in God’s presence. If you can find His life, light, peace and freedom then it doesn’t matter where in the world you are. If you know Jesus, it doesn’t matter how serious your pericardial heart disease is. If you can sense and follow the Holy Spirit, it doesn’t matter if you’re a woman traveling alone or whether you’re 50, 55, or even 70. You will be filled with the peace, love, joy and freedom that surpasses all understanding.
What do you think? “Should” you travel alone with pericarditis or should you stay home? How comfortable do you feel as a woman over fifty taking a solo vacation or going on a spiritual pilgrimage by yourself?
One last health and travel tip for women 50+
50 After 50: Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life by Maria Leonard Olsen is an excellent book for women 50+ – whether or not you have pericarditis or are planning to travel alone! When Maria turned 50, she had the distinct feeling that she was on the downward slope of her life.
When this woman turned 50, her gift to herself was to go on a crusade to make the most of whatever time she had left. She set out to do 50 new significant things; the list spanned physical challenges, adventure travel, and lifestyle changes. Each taught her something about herself and about how she wanted to lead the next years of her life to come.
I’d planned to include the definition of pericardial disease in these health and travel tips, but forgot. So here it is: Pericarditis is inflammation of any of the layers of the pericardium. The pericardium is a thin tissue sac that surrounds the heart, and consists of three layers. Pericarditis is when one or all of the layers of the pericardium become inflamed.
You probably don’t need a definition of “woman traveling alone” or “woman 50+”, do you? 🙂
By the way, I spent four hours in the hospital’s ER before I was diagnosed with pericarditis. That’s when I wrote 15 Ways to Pass the Time While Waiting in the Emergency Room. You may find it interesting to read while you’re waiting in the cardiologist’s office, family doctor’s waiting room, or travel clinic.
In peace and passion,
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