Adventure riding with daily medication that requires refridgeration - any experience?

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by jetjackson, Jun 6, 2011.

  1. jetjackson

    jetjackson Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    490
    Location:
    Houston, TX - Aussie expat
    So I am planning on taking 12-18 months to ride a bike around the world. Just booked the first flight on the weekend so my adventure begins on October 7th. Getting prepared though and have one issue to address...


    I have an issue in that I have something called Hashimotos disease or Hypothyroid. I have to take medication every day or my thyroid hormone will drop. Your Thyroid is like the throttle on your body for those who don't know... so if I stop taking the medication it will be like slamming on the brakes on my body and the result is no energy, depression and endless tiredness and if left for say 6-12 months with no medication eventually I would likely die from a heart attack. The latter unlikely though.

    The problem is that the medication needs to be refridgerated below 6 degrees celcius to be kept indefinitely. Once in room temperature <25 degrees celcius the medication will keep for a cumulative total of 4 weeks before the active ingredient starts to break down and potency is reduced. I can get about 8 months worth in advance before I leave and can probably get some more in the UK about half way through my trip by jumping through a few british hurdles. So whilst I can keep the medication above 6 degrees for some periods it would be better if I could reduce that time by carrying it in some sort of cold case on the bike.

    So I need some way to store this on the bike and looking at something like this on the link below and rigging up a DC adapter to the bike and back to the cooler.

    http://www.medicool.com/diabetes/diabetes_travel_medicooler_fridge.php

    Does anyone have any experience with this at all? Perhaps someone with diabetes that needs to store medication. Ideally I need a cooling device that can run off DC 12V/mains power with adapter/batteries.
    #1
  2. bones_708

    bones_708 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    574
    Location:
    Houston, Tx
    It seems to me that you're on the right track. I,ve seen other DC cooler devices but none that compact and perfect for the job. I would suggest two things. Get yourself a good solar setup. One that if you drain your battery it can charge it enough to start it in a couple of hours.
    [​IMG]

    http://www.amazon.com/California-So...UY/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1307431874&sr=8-11

    I would also plan on making more visits to a doctor. Basicly a year and a half of meds without seeing anyone? That seems a bit much. Personaly I wouldnt think every 3 to 6 months to be too much when you consider that a lot of the symptons could be easily mistaken for a hard days travel. I would think you could pick a spot or two out for a doctors visit and a quick thyroid test in almost any major city.
    #2
  3. PsychoSayWhat

    PsychoSayWhat Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2008
    Oddometer:
    437
    Location:
    not in denial
    That medicooler is very cool. :D

    I can't say much on your health, but as far as the battery situation and the electronics, I found info that said the cooler uses 25 watts max (that's about 2.1 amps), and your stock battery I believe is 14 amp-hours, so you should "technically" be able to run that cooler for about (14 amps capacity/2.1 amps draw) = 6 hours until the battery would be completely dead from fully charged.

    You might consider is getting a separate battery to run it from overnights and charge that battery off the bike while you ride. LiPo batteries are light, compact and have a lot of amps capacity for their size and weight, unfortunately they don't do well with heavy vibration or being punctured - so you would have to make sure it was padded & protected. You could also go with A123 cells for a little more money - the A123 cells are also a lot safer.

    You will also need to make sure that cooler has some ventilation and that it doesn't get packed with dirt or flooded if it rains.

    Good luck on your trip - sounds awesome!
    #3
  4. JakeDee

    JakeDee n00b

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2010
    Oddometer:
    8
    Location:
    Roanoke, VA - Blue Ridge Mtns.
    Are you on Levothyroxine (synthroid)? I am, and I've never refrigerated it. Doc/instructions on the bottle only say to keep it away from direct sunlight.
    #4
  5. jetjackson

    jetjackson Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    490
    Location:
    Houston, TX - Aussie expat
    No I am on Oroxine. In Australia they make the recommendation that you refridgerate it - not always recommended in other markets. How often do you get it dispensed though? I only get dispensed every 4 months or so.

    @bones - you are right. I will have to get blood tests done every 3 months or so. My doctor in Australia is pretty good and I should be able to call him back with my results and also discuss with local doctor (I want my Aussie doctor who knows my entire situation to know what is going on as well) Thanks for the link to the solar panel. That is an awesome idea and could come in very handy for camping and other situations where I might not run the bike for 3-4 days or have access to refridgeration.

    @Psycho - thanks for the battery tips. I would not have thought of that at all. Would have just put the unit somewhere in the pannier away from heat of exhaust.
    #5
  6. JakeDee

    JakeDee n00b

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2010
    Oddometer:
    8
    Location:
    Roanoke, VA - Blue Ridge Mtns.
    Once per month. I've never refrigerated, and it keeps my levels normal.

    Best of luck, man!
    #6
  7. Yakima

    Yakima NC 700

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2010
    Oddometer:
    536
    Location:
    Central Washington State
    Google "Frio"..
    Worked for month-plus with insulin.
    #7
  8. Eyes Shut

    Eyes Shut See no evil

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,376
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    I take levoxyl also (the generic Synthroid), and just store it at RT. I can get 90 days at a time through a mail order pharmacy.
    #8
  9. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,526
    Location:
    Thailand
    #9
  10. jetjackson

    jetjackson Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    490
    Location:
    Houston, TX - Aussie expat
    Wow, thought it was really rare for guys to have Hypothyroid. Good to know there are a few others out there. I thought it was something predominantly older women got. I was expecting mostly responses on this topic from people with diabetes.

    I understand that the medication lasts about 1 month at room temperature so if you are only getting 1 months supply at a time then you would not have any issues. However in Australia they give you a box of 10 sheets 20 tabs per sheet and at 1 pill a day that will last for six months. So I leave all 10 sheets in the fridge at the start and then take one sheet out at a time and take that over 20 days.

    I understand that there are naturopathic ways of dealing with it but probably don't want to experiment these when I will be pushing myself on a regular basis. I have never suffered any hardcore symptoms. I am only 27 and I only found out last year because I was training for a marathon and all the extra exercise was putting my system under a sh-tload of pressure. I ran a marathon with high TSH levels so I can't be that bad. I was getting panic attacks and so went to the doctors thinking it was psycological (although I am lucky to have a carefree life with nothing that would suggest issues) and he did a blood test to make sure it wasn't physical. They found my TSH was 36 but my T4 levels were slightly under the low end of average. After being on the Oroxine my TSH has come way down and T4 just below middle of average range - panic attacks gone and have slightly more energy but not that noticable.

    I am finding a lot of the problems with these fridges are they only have enough space for the shape of insulin, whereas I need something that will store 12cm x 6cm x 20cm for 6 months worth of medication.
    #10
  11. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,526
    Location:
    Thailand
    Riding motorcycle is much more therapeutic than running a marathon.
    I'd be hesitant to place that much faith in a western doctoring. Some of thier treatments are actually self fullfilling where they futher suppress the body's natural coping ability.
    If you were in thailand I'd invite you to come here.
    http://www.siamhealthy.net/english/index.html
    the doc here has been helping some remarkable healing of folks with her enzymes.
    I happen to be there right now getting a tuneup for my upcoming trip.

    As far as the 6 month supply perishble meds go there ought to be someone you know who you could forward it to to keep to in a fridge for ya, and send some when ya needed it.
    I'd offer but I'm not based in the USA anymore and I'll be travelling too.
    #11
  12. bones_708

    bones_708 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    574
    Location:
    Houston, Tx
    Well you can get just about any size 12v "fridge" you want but the issue may be temp control. Most items don't have the narrow temp restrictions you are looking for so thermoelectric coolers are common and work fine but only lower the temp 35 degrees, or 20 for those who use Celsius, below ambient temp. The temps you need you would have to have one with a compressor and it will add weight and cost. a thermoelectric cooler, under $100 usd easy. Smallest compressor cooler I know of is 27lbs and $650 usd. Talk with your pharmacist about the drugs and maybe the 35 to 40 degrees, or 20 to 23 Celsius, will be enough. Otherwise expect to pay big and lug a good sized cooler everywhere. The other issue is a compressor cooler uses more power also. Check that your bike can supply the juice it needs or if you can upgrade the system to handle the draw up to 3.0 amps an hour. Do a search for ENGEL MD14F as it may be the closest to what you ask but I think you need to see if really need the requirements you first stated.
    #12
  13. jetjackson

    jetjackson Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    490
    Location:
    Houston, TX - Aussie expat
    Thanks Bones that is awesome advice.

    Agreed Bush pilot... although running a marathon you learn about yourself... part of the same reason I want to ride to other countries.

    I will stick with western meds for the moment, as I said above, now is not the time to experiment.
    #13
  14. BikePilot

    BikePilot Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2005
    Oddometer:
    11,260
    Location:
    Tampa
    It might be worth talking to a doc to see if there is another equally-effective med that doesn't require refrigeration. Sounds like there may be.

    If it were me and the meds last a month at RT I think I'd be inclined to have fresh packets shipped along the route rather than trying to carry a fridge, but I prefer traveling light and simple.

    Its going to be really difficult to run a compressor-cooler for an extended period of time. Even assuming the bike could make enough current to run the thing while you are on the road, what about at night and when stopped? Even if you had enough batteries to run it all night (weight and const prohibitive I suspect, at least with a compressor fridge) you wouldn't be able to charge them back up plus run the thing during your daily ride I think :O Anyway, without a generator and fuel supply the compressor mini-fridge probably isn't going to work.
    #14
  15. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,526
    Location:
    Thailand
    I understand your reluctance; but part of the adventure of travel is learning different ways of looking at things and different ways of problem solving.
    Western therapies have thier place yet often they are limited to treating symtoms without addressing the health of the body as a whole functioning system.
    There is a relationship between hypothyroidism, diabetes, and heart conditions.
    The thyroid sympoms are likely a sign of an underlying imbalance.
    Anyway it is just some food for thought as western medicine is good for replacing parts and ancient eastern thought considers all the parts and how they work together. The thyeoid is only a small part of the system.
    It just seems like you're an awfully young guy to be locked into the box the doctors appear to have you in.
    #15
  16. bones_708

    bones_708 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    574
    Location:
    Houston, Tx
    I know you mean well and it really isn't my place, but are you freaking nuts? Are you really pushing someone to go off life sustaining meds during an around the world trip to experiment with holistic medicine? You have no idea of his specifics yet you're some how sure your way will work better? I understand that people may get excited about new things or things that worked well for themselves but common sense should be applied!
    #16
  17. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,526
    Location:
    Thailand
    You're kinda overstating it aren't you!
    He gave a general outline of the specifics and it does not sound like his life is in danger if he can run a marathon off the meds.
    I'm not pushing anything except having an open mind. These doctors themselves when cornered will admit they dont have the final answer to many of these conditions. That they have to rotate prescriptions around on patient because they quit working after a while. Some people like being stuck on the expensive drug merry go round. So be it.
    For sure doctors and the drug companies like it.
    We can argue the pros and cons of western vs eastern medicine till we're blue in the face.
    It's pretty well established fact around the world that the human body has extraordinary self healing capabilties. Open your eyes. It's a big diverse world out there. That is why we travel. Western culture has a tendency to box you in and belittle things it doesn't understand. Think outside that box. That's all I'm suggesting.
    BTW the things I'm talking about aren' t new they are actually quite ancient.
    #17
  18. bones_708

    bones_708 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    574
    Location:
    Houston, Tx
    Which in general means agree with me are you dont understand so be perpared to be lectured into agreement. :puke1


    And any doctor east or west who thinks that in the middle of a RTW trip is when you should experiment is a hack and should be ignored.


    Why? That has nothing to do with my point. You think he should go off of medication that works for a collection of treatments off the internet that he would be doing unmonitored while he was on an around the world trip!


    Great but only a moron would think that durring a trip is the ideal way to start such a treatment.
    #18
  19. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,526
    Location:
    Thailand
    I never said anything of the kind. I'm only suggesting that there may be other ways of looking at the problem. I never got into specifics.
    If it was me I would be very interested in alternatives to toting around a years worth on meds in a fridge, not to mention the broader health considerations.

    I might even consider making a trip to Thailand and spend a month at place focused on the issue. If I was asked to recomend something specific that would be what I might suggest.
    Just food for thought thats all. I hope you aren't adverse to thinking also.
    #19
  20. jetjackson

    jetjackson Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    490
    Location:
    Houston, TX - Aussie expat
    I won't have to lug around 12 months worth at any one time, more like 6 months worth. I am lucky in the I have dual Australian/British citizenship so will be able to stop in the UK and see a doctor there and get another prescription filled. I understand that I may be able to get scripts filled in the US also.

    The delay on the effects of your system is long with Thyroid treatment. You couldn't establish if something was working in 1 month. It would take more like 12 and you would have to adjust doses up and down if you were taking some sort of natural medication. Moreover a lot of what I have read about natural therapies for treatment of Thyroid relate to very strict dietary controls - something that would be harder to do on the road for 18 months than keeping medication cold.
    #20