Today marks 3 months before our trip to Antarctica. It’s starting to feel so real.
As I mentioned in my first post about the trip, all of the travelers on our tour are required to get a letter from their doctor verifying that they are fit enough for the journey. It won’t be a physically strenuous trip but we’ll be out to sea for several days and far far away from a hospital so they want to make sure that won’t be a problem.
The form they provided is pretty straightforward. The wording basically says that I’m planning an expedition cruise to Antarctica, where sophisticated medical facilities are not available and that I must be able to walk up steep gangways, get in and out of landing boats, walk over uneven and slippery terrain, etc.
If I was in the U.S. then I would have simply gone to my doctor and asked them to sign the form. My General Practitioner there knew me and I had a history with them. But since I moved to the UK in January, I haven’t yet established a GP and have no history with anyone here. So I had a rather humorous encounter with a private London doctor.
I scheduled the appointment online and mentioned in the online form that I was going to Antarctica and needed a doctor’s note. When I got there, the doctor asked me what tests I needed. And I laughed and told him I had no idea. I showed him the form and told him I needed whatever tests he needed to administer for him to be comfortable signing on the dotted line. We had several minutes of mutual confusion and discussion and he almost made me get my medical records from the U.S.
But in the end it was all fine and after some basic checks and conversation he signed the note and we spent some time chatting about the trip — he had a friend who went to Antarctica a few years ago and was excited for me.
I have one last medical thing to fill out because the tour company also needs my blood type which I don’t know. I think if I give blood then they’ll tell me what it is so I may go try that, otherwise I’ll have to go to a clinic and get it tested.
Next step is to start shopping for gear. That will be a challenge — we need to pack lightly but will spend some time in Argentina before and after the trip to Antarctica so we need clothing for both colder and warmer weather. Layers layers layers.