An important consideration is how long you will be away from medical care. This will affect how self-reliant you need to be. If you are going to be in the Bahamas
or going up/down the Eastern Caribbean
, it is different from going Galapagos
Some of our observations:
- I would not be comfortable with the minimalist approach suggested by some here. At the same time, it is possible to get so much stuff (equipment and meds) that you almost need to be a medical pro to be able to use everything properly.
- one antibiotic is not enough. I had a huge infected boil on my leg going from Easter Island to Gambier Islands. As well as using hot compresses and antiseptics we tried Cipro which we thought was very general purpose in nature. Found out in Tahiti
that it is not good for skin infections and skin infections in a tropical, marine environment
are not nice things. Mine lasted from Easter to Fiji
and required two courses of antibiotics in addition to the Cipro
- medications are often, but not always, cheaper in cruiser locales. For some reason an antibiotic we bought in Bali was almost $40, while in Fiji
it was $6.
- a wilderness first aid course is an excellent idea since it gives you more confidence in dealing with a medical emergency
. We took a two day course offered through Columbia
U (I consider that that makes me an Ivy League grad of sorts.
- a surgeon friend offered to teach me how to suture, but suggested a skin stapler instead. I asked him how to use it and he asked me if I have ever used a regular stapler. Only downside is that it tends to leave more noticeable scars. Apparently they come with two units in sterile packs within one larger bag and you only need one, at least for most orthopedic surgeries, so he gave me one.
-Silvadene is apparently incredible for burns
- When medications reach their expiry date they don't become dangerous, just gradually less effective. Not nice to throw out expensive prescriptions, but I guess that means that you did not need to use them which is good.