Flying… With Immunosuppression

This week found Joker and I on a business trip! I know what you are thinking, “what kind of business could you possibly have together?”

The truth is, we don’t. However, I have come with Joker to the Berkshire-Hathaway conference in Omaha, Nebraska this weekend and a “nurse” and for moral support. If you don’t already know, Joker has had a kidney transplant. As such, he is chronically immune suppressed. He will for now and forever, take medication that tries to decreases his bodies immune response so that it will not reject the kidney he has been given.

This means that he pretty much gets any bug that comes in contact with him. As we all know, airplanes are not known for their fresh air supply, so he really tends to get sick after flights super easily. However, with business, networking and conferences are super important for networking.

So this year being with a super medically savvy and bright woman, we decided that we were going to get here by hook or crook. Initially we thought of just travelling by train, but Joker’s doctor actually stated that he preferred that we go by plane to minimize exposure to crowds.

So for my official “Recommendation” of flight essentials checklist when travelling with immunsuppresion, I offer you the following:

  1. Lysol wipes – Wipe them EVERYWHERE! I spent a few minutes wiping down the seat, tray table, air vent , arm rests, etc. Basically anything in our immediate area that Joker might touch. Be advised that for sanitization purposes, most wipes require the surface to remain wet for several minutes to complete the job.
  2. Neosporin/Antibiotic Ointment and Q-tips – One article we read recommended that we swab a layer before flight, as any germs inhaled could adhere too and be killed by the ointment.
  3. Mask – probably the most important item! Initially I was leaning towards the N-95 respirator as mask of choice. These masks were what we used in the hospital that were apparently strong enough to ward off tuberculosis. However, Joker currently has a beard and we found out that Curad produces a loop mask that is impregnated with anti-virals. So between the anti-biotic ointment for any bacteria and the anti-viral mask, we figured we were covered.
  4. Gloves – We had Joker wear gloves initially when on the plane until everything was sanitized.
  5. Purell – I am not a fan of over use of anti-bacterial gels, but in this case, I agree that it makes sense to hand wash and gel when on the plane. I especially recommended this to him after using the bathroom or before eating.
  6. Window Seat – This was also a tip we found through our research. Sitting near the window reduces the exposure to the number of passengers. While I was breathed on by every person who walked by us, Joker was safely nestled away by the window seat.

So far, knocking on wood and crossing all the fingers we remain in good health. Hopefully, we will have just as much success on the return trip!

Wish us luck!


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