Tuesday 8 December 2009

when we failed the physical...

I had loads of things on my to-do list today at work, but the real task for the day was travel insurance.

As we've been going through the process of planning and booking -- or at least putting a marker on -- all of these fantastic travel plans, it's been something of a worry in the back of my mind that I really need to sort out travel insurance. It sounds as though it should be a fairly straightforward thing, but when you have MS, that isn't necessarily the case.  With every travel plan that we put in place; with every flight that we reserved and each tour that we booked, I couldn't help but worry that I was going to find it impossible to get the insurance that I was going to need to make all these grand travel plans actually come to fruition.  Perhaps not surprisingly, people aren't all that keen to take you on a long overland tour in Africa without knowing they can safely palm you off on someone else in the event that you get mauled by a lion....

When I last bought travel insurance, as opposed to just renewing it, I hadn't yet been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis; I had only (only!) been labelled with what turned out to be a transitional diagnosis of transverse myelitis.  Even then, I was worried.  I can remember sitting in my car at work on the phone to some call-centre or other waiting as they tried to see if myelitis was a condition that they would be prepared to insure. 
Had I been hospitalised in the last 12 months?
Was my mobility impaired? 
Had I suffered an attack/relapse in the last 12 months? 
Okay then, you're covered. 

The relief was palpable.  It may not sound like much, but the prospect that something as normal as travel insurance, something that I had previously entirely taken for granted, might be taken away from me, hit me really hard - far harder, in fact, than the actual loss of sensation in my limbs.  I can cope with the physical symptoms alright... I can control that.... but there are other things that I can't control, like the way that society now looks at me slightly differently because of my condition.  That, I find, is much harder to cope with.

So this morning, I got on the phone to find out exactly how hard this was going to be. 

As it turns out.... not very.  Worldwide travel cover including the USA and Canada?  Winter sports?  Multiple trips?  No problem.  The main issue, it seemed, was that I was going to be away for more than 45 days in a single stretch.  Even then, it wasn't too difficult to find an insurer who would cover me for a ninety day stretch.

What about my MS? 
Do you need mobility aids?
Um.  No.
Have you had a chronic relapse in the last 12 months?
Then for a small extra premium we'll cover you.
Yes, including your MS. 

And it was done.

I'm focusing on the fact that I now have the travel insurance that I need.  Why would I worry about anything else?  I am choosing, quite deliberately, not to focus on the questions these insurance companies ask people with MS before they will offer them cover.  Why would I need to? Mobility aids?  Why, this very evening I got home from work and went out on a 4.25 mile run in the pissing rain and they ask me about mobility aids?  But it only feels like yesterday that I was running a half-marathon.....  Somewhat ironically for someone buying an insurance product, something that's all about hedging your bets about the future, I'm not going to think too hard about what tomorrow might bring me.

....Other than a fantastic trip around the world, obviously.


  1. I still say Chicago should be on the itinerary.

  2. there's time and room on the agenda yet. It was a toss-up between chicago and SF. SF this time. Chi next.

  3. (and illinois is one of my albums of the decade, if that helps any)

  4. I've always looked at you slightly differently :P