Staph infection in the Dominican Republic

One of the greatest concerns - and perhaps biggest inhibitors - to traveling with children is the fear of dealing with illness and injury while away from home.

In our travels, our family has personally dealt with the threat of malaria; staph infections; boils; lice; stomach aches; flus; colds; allergies; broken bones; cavities and root canals -  to name just a few.

Not knowing what to do if you or your child faces a health concern while traveling can be very frightening.

Add to that the uncertainty of being able to find adequate medical treatment (or insurance) while abroad, and you suddenly have a situation that seems almost overwhelming.

That's why a proper health care plan is imperative to bring peace of mind.

Our family has that peace of mind while we travel, because of a 3-part health care plan that we've adopted into our lifestyle.

However, when I refer to 'health care', I don't mean it in the traditional sense of insurance which pays for doctor visits, prescriptions and medical treatment.

Instead, I'm referring to the serious attention or consideration we give toward maintaining a state of well-being (for ourselves and our family) that is free from illness or injury.

Ultimately, we are each responsible for our own condition of health, and parents are responsible for teaching their children to take good care of their bodies.

When we only rely on the medical profession to manage all of our health concerns, we give up some of that personal responsibility, and justify conditions such as our 'diet is not that important, because the doctor can give me something to manage my diabetes.'

And handing over our well-being (and that of our children) into the hands of 'trained professionals' leaves us feeling very vulnerable when we face something which threatens our health.

For the most part, our family approaches health care - whether at 'home' or abroad - with the following modus operandi:

  1. Maintain health and well being through proper diet and exercise. Prevent illness and injury. We aim to eat very little sugar, fresh fruits and vegetables (locally grown if we can find them), and very few processed foods.Those who eat a standard western diet (which consists of processed and industrialized foods) have a greater chance of diabetes, heart disease and cancer, as well as other illnesses.
  2. Handle illnesses and injuries with natural remedies, and study about the treatment and care of common ailments.(My husband has studied as an EMT, and I use Modern Essentials as my study guide.)Have a good First Aid Kit on hand. Know how to use it. (Here's our Unconventional First Aid Kit)
  3. Visit a doctor for major health concerns - broken bones, etc.When we were in a car accident, and our three year old broke her femur, we were clearly out of our 'comfort zone' for personal care (obviously). To say we were more than happy to use the trained medical professionals at the hospital is an understatement 🙂

Using the above formula, we can almost count on one hand the number of times our family has been to the doctor or hospital.

We maintain great health, feel confident with our ability to treat most ailments, and know that if needed we can find the medical treatment we require, (since you'll discover that most of the medical care outside the U.S. and Europe is as good or even better, and usually less expensive.)

Accepting responsibility for the health and well-being of your family is a key ingredient to confidence while traveling with your children.

Knowing that you can personally handle most maladies that you might encounter makes your family travel adventures more mentally manageable (for many mothers, anyway.)

But unfortunately we often see a 911 call and an ambulance ride for a gash in a leg, a dash to the emergency room for a case of croup, and other medical 'overreactions', usually caused by fear of the unknown due to ignorance of our bodies and how they work, and how to work with and heal them.

Yes, there are times when trained professionals can provide care that we can't. But a large contributor to high costs of medical care (and insurance) in the U.S. comes from individuals who visit for every little malady.

If we treated ourselves for what is self-treatable, and visited the physicians only when absolutely necessary,  health care costs might become more manageable.

If we focused on prevention of disease, instead of management of symptoms, we'd also save a lot in dollars (or euros or pesos). You have to pay hundreds a month for high-blood pressure medication? Why not just eliminate the high-blood pressure through proper diet and exercise? (Often that's not the course of action because it requires more work than popping a pill.)

Why not allot some time to studying how to take better care of your body, treat minor ailments and illnesses, and thus building your confidence to care for yourself and your family - at home or while traveling?

Further Resources:

Modern Essentials - explains the multiple uses of Essential Oils.

Nourishing Traditions

In Defense of Food - Eat real food. What is real food? You'll find out here.

Perfect Health - An Eastern approach to health: learning and working with your body types - Vata, Pitta, Kapha




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12 Responses

  1. Clark Vandeventer

    Thisis unconventional? Ok, I guess you’re right…in the same way that common sense is not so common. Take care of yourself. Look for warning signs. Doctors/hospitals become someone/something you turn to in an emergency.

    Our family is really working at improving our first line of defense healthcare–your Point No. 1. Watch what we put in our bodines. Ensure that we’re getting the amount of physical exursion that we need. That’s pretty simple.

    When I was in my early 20’s a doctor prescribed me medicine for high blood pressure. I never even had in filled. My high blood pressure was related to 2 things: my stress levels at work and my diet. My blood pressure remains an issue, but it is way down. I think that is in part because I quit my job and in part because we work to maintain a healthy routine when it comes to diet and exercise.

    • Rachel

      You’re right, it seems like common sense…yet so many (the majority?) don’t follow this simple formula. Crazy.

  2. Harriet J

    Very well written. Have you read Disease Proof Your Child by Dr. Fuhrman yet?

  3. Kathryn Ottosson

    So now I’m all curious since we’re going to the DR too, how did he get the staph infection and how did you treat it? happy travels!

    • Rachel

      It’s easy to get staph infection in humid climates – any time you break open the skin you’re at risk. He got a scratch or bug bite on his arm, the skin broke open, and the infection started to spread. Now I would use my essential oils to treat it (oregano is an antibiotic), but I didn’t have those at the time, so he visited a local clinic and they gave him a shot in his butt every day for five days!! Painful (on both ends).

  4. Heather

    Rachel: My husband and I currently adopt a very similar approach to yours above. I rely on Traditional Chinese Medicine for the most part, if need be. We are currently not travelling, but are working toward putting together a plan. This issue is one of the biggest concerns; at least in terms of travelling the U.S. The only thing I don’t see a way around is the possibility of an emergency situation. As you know, you cannot even walk into an ER w/out shelling out a minimum of $1500 USD. Other countries, I know would more than likely be much less expensive. But, I’m just talking in terms of the US. What would one do in the situation where it was something more serious that may require hospitalization (for real)? Is there an alternative to those that are a bit more weary of potential medical costs here in the US? We also have 5 children and I very rarely ever take them to the doctor, but I must admit, having full coverage through the state takes a huge weight off our shoulders.

    • Alisa

      I totally understand what Heather is talking about. In the US we maintained very deductible insurance ($7500 deductible per family member), which was simply my insurance against a disaster, like a family car accident, etc. It’s scary to drive around the US and know that a major accident could happen at no fault of our own. I even get nervous when I travel back to the states for 1 month!

      Rachel, you’re right that the most important part is what you said in #1, but some things can’t be avoided by following #1 (such as the staph infection)…so I LOVE your #2 plan. What happened to being sensible, and well-informed about how to remedy things themselves? Oh! The lost art!!
      I’m going to have learn more from you…and I am soooo intrigued by the oil set!!

  5. Helmut

    Hey guys, I have been reading your blog for a couple of months. We heard of you through the Vogel family whom we met in southern Mexico on our way to Belize. You put my thoughts into words very well. I hope we can meet some day.
    We have 7 children and we do things exactly like you with the health care versus symptom care. Our children are all born at home. 4 with a midwife and with 3 we were all alone, it is a wonderful experience to take responsibility for your own family. We do not have a doctor nor have our kids been to the doctor. Our oldest is 13 and our youngest is 2 and we have dealt with all the childhood diseases successfully. My wife is known as the vitamin C lady. LOL. Whenever people ask for advice on fighting a disease or infection they already know the answer.
    As for traveling with kids, I think we have skipped maybe one year since getting married 15 years ago. We like to go to Mexico and Belize and spend 3 to 4 months there before heading back to Canada. When you are informed and know your body there is no fear in traveling.

    Thanks for your encouragement to live life intentionally.
    God bless you in your travels.

    PS. I have been running my suburban on Veggie for about 4 years now. Gotta love free fuel!

    • Rachel

      Thanks so much for your comment. What a fun and wonderful family you have. Maybe we’ll meet up somewhere around the world! Keep in touch.

  6. Justin

    Great ideas and recommendations. I agree that the best way to avoid the doctor is to just be mindful of your health.

    I do wonder how you do with sleep. Being a blogger and having a family, I can only imagine that your sleep schedules must be wacky. In speaking with doctors and professionals, they have said lack of sleep is a sure way to take years off you life and get sick sooner. It’s also the best, free pick me up you can get.

    Now I am a worker and sleep is tough for me, but given I am trying to avoid the doc, it sure is worth considering.

    Great Article!

    • Rachel

      Sleep? What’s that? 😀

      My baby is sleeping much better now, so I’ve been getting more of it (unless there’s teething, or stomach flu or achy legs or …..)

      Welcome to motherhood, right?


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