Heart to Heart with Anna

Travels of a Heart Warrior!

August 06, 2019 Megan Tones Season 14 Episode 10
Heart to Heart with Anna
Travels of a Heart Warrior!
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Heart to Heart with Anna
Travels of a Heart Warrior!
Aug 06, 2019 Season 14 Episode 10
Megan Tones

Megan Tones is a woman who was born with multiple congenital heart defects and who has undergone multiple medical procedures. In this episode of Heart to Heart with Anna, Megan details special considerations and precautions she underwent before (and during!) her travels to China, Egypt, and Japan. A native Australian, Megan has appreciated the beauty and majesty of these other countries and doesn't believe her heart defect should hold her back from the travel she and her husband so enjoy.

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Show Notes Transcript

Megan Tones is a woman who was born with multiple congenital heart defects and who has undergone multiple medical procedures. In this episode of Heart to Heart with Anna, Megan details special considerations and precautions she underwent before (and during!) her travels to China, Egypt, and Japan. A native Australian, Megan has appreciated the beauty and majesty of these other countries and doesn't believe her heart defect should hold her back from the travel she and her husband so enjoy.

Please take a moment to follow us on your preferred social media platforms:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/heart-to-heart-with-anna/id1132261435?mt=2

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HearttoHeartwithAnna/

YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGPKwIU5M_YOxvtWepFR5Zw

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hugpodcastnetwork/

If you enjoy this program and would like to be a Patron, please check out our Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/HeartToHeart

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/HearttoHeart)

spk_0:   0:00
they have all these little

spk_1:   0:01
gold leaves that completely cover the building. And on a clear day, I it it just looks amazing.

spk_2:   0:15
Too hard to heart. With Anna, I am Anna Dworsky and a host of today's programs. I'm very excited for today's show to feature a seasoned traveler. She is here to share her stories with us about how she has been able to travel all over the world despite being born with a severe congenital heart defect. Today's program is entitled Travels of Ah, Heart Warrior. Megan Toes was born with a congenital heart defect and had surgery of four months of age. Her first surgery was a pulmonary artery banding, followed by a ventricular septal defect repair at five years of age, a right ventricular outflow, tract reconstruction at age 10 and mitral valve repair. At age 25 at age 29 Megan had a catheter ablation. Megan and her husband loved to travel. Most recently, they traveled back to Japan. They've been there four times. Megan has also traveled to Egypt and China. She lives in Australia with her husband and for babies.

spk_3:   1:12
Megan is also a volunteer with heart to heart, with Anna and has been on our program is but the guest and guest host when she interviewed another seasoned traveler, Jordan de Mercia. Welcome back. It's a heart to heart with Anna Megan. Thank

spk_1:   1:26
you, Anna. It's great to be here again.

spk_3:   1:28
Well, I just love having you on the program. You're always so much fun to talk to. And I love talking about travel, so I can't wait for us to get into the program. Thanks, Enemy to Let's start by talking about your trip to China. That is just an amazing place to go. So tell us about what kind of special arrangements you had to make before going to China.

spk_0:   1:51
Oh, my God. That was so long ago. That was for a conference when I was a student in 2007 and I hadn't bean overseas before. Apart from a trip with my parents, when I was really, really young. So it was all very new to me. I didn't even have a passport. So

spk_3:   2:09
Oh, how

spk_0:   2:10
the first thing that I did was I I made an appointment with my doctor just to check what vaccinations and things like that I needed. So I saw the travel doctor, probably about two months before I went to talk about the specific risks of going to China and arrange for vaccinations. I think it was the hepatitis A and B

spk_3:   2:33
mmm

spk_0:   2:33
that I needed. And I also right to the consulate for China in Australia just to find out whether any of my medications were prohibited and what the requirements were for traveling with medicine. Wow. Fortunately, my thing through chaos and the under jocks and at that stage, so all I needed was the medicine in a box, a label and a letter from the doctor. And because it was a work related trip, I didn't have to organize travel insurance. Really. I just had to get a letter from my cardiologist to say that I was fit to travel and give that to my supervisor. But having said that, any time I do travel for work, I do check with the company, particularly as I currently have three jobs just to see what sort of travel insurance arrangements they do have what I need to do there to make sure that I would be covered because I don't want a big expense for myself or my workplace in the event that something should

spk_3:   3:42
happen. But it right, you know, I pet that's something that most people don't even think about me again. Mmm.

spk_0:   3:50
Well, I work for big organizations. There must be a lot of people with different medical conditions who travel, and one time it was suggested that I should take up my own insurance, but unfortunately, it's very expensive, even to go away for a week. And with a diagnosis like heart failure, a lot of travel insurance companies would exclude you, even if it's stable. Amo controlled, which I find this pretty unfair. Really?

spk_3:   4:22
Yeah, I think that's unfair to. So it sounds like insurance with something that you worried about making sure that your medication was able to be transported over country lines, which is something I hadn't even thought about. That really makes a lot of sense. And you had to have a letter from your cardiologists. Did you have any issues with your heart while you were in China?

spk_0:   4:43
No. No. Fortunately, that was back when I was fairly young, are suddenly 24. So I wasn't really aware, I guess of the seriousness of my heart problems at the time I was under investigation. I had some own going issues with exhaustion and shortness of breath and everything. But I wasn't really completely aware of what was going on, and the trip itself in China was only fairly short. It was only 10 days, Probably. The thing I had the most trouble with actually was the air quality in Beijing. It's pretty bad here that they've Bean working on it because they were going to have the Olympics in 2008. But it was something that I struggled with a little bit, not having the best lungs in the place.

spk_3:   5:40
It makes sense. So did you require oxygen? Or was it just something that you realized you were better off indoors than being outside?

spk_0:   5:49
Yeah. Yeah. Fortunately, I was only there for 10 days. I felt like I had pretty much had enough on the last star and brightest. I don't even really want to go outside. But yet, fortunately, a lot of the time we spent Morse indoors and the people that I was staying with where it was a really wonderful family, and they wanted me to sort of guide and experience China. So we took a few trips. That was sort of more at into the country to see the Great Wall and some things like that. So I had a really great time. If everything else about the trip was wonderful, the air quality was Stanley thing that I had a little bit of trouble with.

spk_3:   6:32
So what was the most interesting activity? You didn't try and it wasn't going to see the Great Wall. I would have to say

spk_0:   6:39
so, Yes. I mean, everything was all very, very new to me because I didn't really know very much about China or Chinese culture. It wasn't quite the same as if I had been planning a holiday over there. I would have done a lot more research, but because it was a work trip, it sort of came up Philly suddenly and it was more okay, what can I do? But I would say is probably the Great Wall was the most interesting thing to see because it's one of those really iconic things that you see pictures often you hear about. And for example, I had no idea how steep the steps were.

spk_3:   7:19
Oh, really?

spk_0:   7:22
Though these really massive high step. So it's quite difficult to climb, but it was just amazing to see. And there was some other places I saw as well, like the Temple of Heaven and the Forbidden City. But with limited English gods and things like that, I didn't feel like I could get quite as much out of the experiences I could have if I'd known more about them. But still, they were just absolutely stunning to see.

spk_4:   7:59
Take this hot industry. We're offering us a mechanical hot, and he said, now that I've had enough to give it to someone My father promised me a golden dressed world held my hand and asked me where I wanted to go. Whatever strive for conflict that we experienced in our long career together was always healed by humor.

spk_2:   8:20
Heart to heart With Michael Please join us every

spk_5:   8:22
Thursday at noon, Eastern as we talk with people from around the world

spk_2:   8:25
who have experienced those most difficult moments forever by the Baby Blue Sound collective. I think what I love so much about this CD is that some of the songs were inspired by the patient's. Many listeners will understand many of the different songs and what they've been inspired. Our new album will be available on iTunes. Amazon dot com. Spotify. I love the fact that the proceeds from this

spk_3:   8:58
CD are actually going

spk_2:   9:00
to help those with congenital heart defects. Join Music Home Tonight forever. Okay, you are listening to heart to heart with ammo. If you have a question or comment that you would like to dress down show, please send an email to Anna Dworsky at Anna at heart to heart with anna dot com. That's Anna at heart to heart with anna dot com Now back to heart to Heart with Emma

spk_3:   9:31
Megan Before the break, you were telling us about traveling to China, which sounded really amazing. I can't wait to see the photos that you'll be sharing with me. This say grit. I want us to talk about your trip to Egypt, So let's start by having you tell us why you wanted to go to Egypt. Was there something in particular that you wanted to see or do there? Actually,

spk_0:   9:52
it was my husband's idea to go to Egypt, always a little bit nervous about going, but I think the most appealing thing about Egypt is the history they one of the oldest places in the world.

spk_3:   10:06
Yeah,

spk_0:   10:07
in terms of what's there?

spk_3:   10:09
Oh, the archaeology just looks amazing. I mean, the temples, the pyramids, it does look like an amazing place to go. So this was your husband's dream then? To go to Egypt? Yes. Yeah. And is that why he wanted to go because of the archaeology? I think

spk_0:   10:28
so. And just the world history that's there, I think. And I'm pretty sure he said to me one time you said he thought, Well, if there's one place in the world I could visit if only get the chance to see one other country, what would it be? And Egypt was just what came to mind.

spk_3:   10:48
Wow. So you said when you went to China, you didn't have much of a chance to prepare and do research to do, do some research on Egypt before you went.

spk_0:   10:59
Yes, you really, really have to. I think they're just so many things there. So we decided to go with a guide, even though a lot of people do you speak English there? I think for us being from Australia, we just didn't really have the experience of traveling in a country that could potentially be a more high risk place to visit. And so that was probably, I mean, reason to go with a guide that a guide would know about the areas that we were visiting and be able to help us get the most out of the experience and also help to keep us safe. Sure, on our trip. And hey did an excellent job of doing both of those things. And by safe I mean safe from the potential dangers around us and also in terms of my medical issues. So he would understand things about what the temperatures will like there, what sort of medical facilities were around and all of that kind of stuff, and I can say even those probably the most medically fragile for that trip. I didn't have a problem with getting sick at all.

spk_3:   12:18
What I love is that I already know a lot about this Egypt's story because you wrote an essay for the heart of a heart warrior about this trip to Egypt. And so I've seen some photos, and I've just loved what you have shared in that essay. But maybe not all of my listeners have had a chance to read that essay. One of the things that was particularly salient to me was what we were just talking about earlier with your china trip. And that was your travel insurance. This time you had to find it for yourself instead of with your employer. Can you tell my listeners about what that experience was like for you?

spk_0:   12:53
Uh, that was probably the biggest problem that we had, and all I could really do was just check with different insurers and go toe one after the other. And most of them have, like a medical assessment questionnaire. That is really difficult to answer. If you've got a complicated medical problem because a lot of issues air into related like heart and lung, and then they tell you you have to report all of your medical conditions and you think, g you know, do I have to tell him about the scoliosis that I haven't seen a doctor force and sell this 17 and s? So all I could really do was do my best and report on everything that was kind of current that was related to my heart. So for me, that was mainly heart and lung because, honestly, if I got a backache, I wasn't going to go to a doctor over there.

spk_3:   13:49
Right? Right.

spk_0:   13:50
So I really just reported on the heart and lung stuff, and I found it was very bizarre. If you reported your heart failure as heart value got denied. But if you reported, it is impaired contract bility e. I don't know what that was about, but I remember I got so frustrated. I went straight to a number of travel insurers. I went into the stores

spk_3:   14:15
and asked

spk_0:   14:15
them what products they had assumed. Remember one bloke. As soon as I mentioned that I had heart failure, he went white like he couldn't understand how I could be up walking around and not in the hospital. And I think that that's the frustrating thing that in those questionnaires and things, there isn't an appreciation off the degree of heart failure or the reasoning behind it, or whether it's stable or Norton,

spk_3:   14:42
right. You get the impression it's more about people with acquired heart disease and not somebody who has possibly been dealing with this all of their lives.

spk_0:   14:52
Yeah, yeah, possibly. And it also depends. I mean, heart failure is a condition where it depends very much on how you look after yourself. A swell. And I suppose from insurance point of view, maybe they're thinking or people they were gonna cruise and they'll drink and the late fast food or something like that. But I always ate very healthily when I was away differently, too, when I was at home. But I tried to pick the healthiest things that I could because I didn't want to ruin my trip.

spk_3:   15:22
Right, Right. That just makes a lot of sense. But I can kind of understand it from insurers point of view as well that you might be more at risk. But by using the other terminology, it seems like you were still able to be truthful and yet still get the insurance. You need it for your trip, is that right?

spk_0:   15:40
Yes. Yeah, I think that's right. And of course, with the medical conditions, they do charge you an extra premium. I mean, what made me really annoyed, boss, that there are a lot of companies that just at right excluded more serious heart conditions from traveling, which I think if they charge an extra premium, you should be able to get it.

spk_3:   16:03
Yeah, that makes sense.

spk_0:   16:06
And you take the precaution. So, like with planning our trip, we had a lot of extra precautions because of my medical conditions. So our guide took a satellite phone at it. Is it with a GPS on it so that he could call for help if something really serious went wrong, which is something that wouldn't normally be done. He also found out about clinics in different places that were going to in case I didn't need to see a doctor or get a blood test because I was on more friend at the time. I took heaps of extra medicine with me, and I put that in my hand. Luggage? No, in my suitcase so that I wouldn't ever be separated from it. Set alarms on my phone so I could take the medication at the same time as I normally would in Australia. But with the adjustments for the time difference,

spk_3:   17:02
right? Yeah, you don't necessarily think about that. But yeah, that was the smart thing to do. Well, I know that in addition to all the other things that you just mentioned with the warfarin and making sure that you took your meds on time. I know that one of the meds that you were on his Lasix and I have a number of friends who are on life six. And they are afraid to travel because of what that drug does to you. How did you manage it while you were on vacation? Well, it wasn't

spk_0:   17:30
so bad for me because I only take it once a day and I could sort of work out what was a better time for me to take it. So what I would do and I don't know if it's different for other people who take it. But if you take it normally and then just see how it affects you, like when it starts taking effect and how long it lasts. Four. And what I would do with minus that I would set the alarm really early, like four I am or 5 a.m. And I would just take my life six with some water and go back to sleep. And then it would wake me up like a hour later to go to the toilet. And I found that usually it had done its job, I guess within maybe a couple of hours, so I would sort of get it out of the way during the breakfast routine in the morning. And then by the time it was time to go out for the day, it really wasn't too much of a problem. But if it doesn't work like that, I'd probably honestly would have taken it at night, because if you're sitting in a car driving around in the desert all day, moving its would just be a real nuisance and I'd probably rather have my sleep of it disturbed than the day time.

spk_3:   18:43
Well, and you said you were trying to take it at the same time. You would have taken it in Australia anyway. So would that have been at night when you were sleeping?

spk_1:   18:53
And I, um Ni well, because only took it

spk_0:   18:57
once a day. The Lasix was probably the only thing that I moved. I thought, Well, I'll just take that okay in the morning here, because if I'd taken a lot of time, it probably would have just been too impractical what I would usually do with it here. If I was going out for the day, I would take it before I got on the train to go to work. So by the time I got in, it would be starting to take effect then And it wouldn't sort of start happening a bit later in the day when people are turning up warning to mate with me or something like that.

spk_3:   19:29
So that was the one drug that she felt you could adjust the time taking it so that you could still do your trip without too much interruption.

spk_0:   19:38
Yeah, yeah, because it was only once a day. If I had to take it twice a day, I would have just taken it early in the morning and then, probably as soon as we got home at night. That's probably the best way to deal with it.

spk_4:   19:54
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spk_3:   21:04
Megan Before the break, you were telling us about your experience traveling in Egypt. Now let's focus on your recent trip to Japan. You recently told me that you have been to Japan four times. Tell me why you enjoy going to Japan so much. Uh huh.

spk_1:   21:22
There are a number of really great things about going to Japan for me. Number one. It's fairly close to Australia, Really. It's only about an eight hour flight, and they're, uh, often good sales. Probably at least once a year, so it's not hugely expensive to fly there, and it's not very far, so that makes it a bit easier for me. The second thing about it is that we find it to be a fairly safe place to visit. We feel quite comfortable traveling around there by ourselves, and also there is just so much to see and do there. It's a very varied country. There are castles and history, and there is also great shopping. So whatever you're into, he confined times. 1000 in Japan, basically and just stole of the nature there. I mean, they have features, have mountains. I have snow. Anything that your care to see. Really.

spk_3:   22:26
I was sounds fascinating. And you posted so many fabulous photos on Facebook. I was green with envy. I thought, Now I think I want to go to Japan. Yeah. What about the food? Is the food really different than the food you eat in Australia? I would

spk_1:   22:43
say it probably depends on what part of Japan that you go to. I mean, they have a lot of regional dishes there. One thing that I saw that was a bit unusual is that a lot of places you visit have like a signature ice cream like, and it they're often really flavors you wouldn't think off like lavender or egg or curry or sweet potato or Sasabe.

spk_3:   23:08
Wow, yeah,

spk_1:   23:11
different. But in big cities like Tokyo, if you really want more Western food, Yuka normally find at least a version off it. But it tends to be a bit different. I must confess I didn't get too adventurous with the food in Japan because we're there for a longer period of time. I had to be very careful about eating too much salt over a long period of time. For one thing, also, I have change my diet a bit because of my heart problems and everything. Site. I don't sort of just eat anything. Eight. Pretty much mainly vegetarian food now, so that sort of makes it a little bit complicated but normally confined something like an Italian restaurant toe in Tokyo, there are a few more vegetarian or vegan places that you could go to so normally I would try and find something like more of a buffet restaurant or maybe an Italian place, or we would sort of try and buy something from a convenience store,

spk_3:   24:19
Really? So did Tuesday, someplace where you had an oven or stove or some means of cooking

spk_1:   24:26
the first time we did. But typically the kitchen's there, particularly in apartments. They have pretty limited facilities, so they'll have, like a plug in cooktop and often only a fairly small, sore Spencer. It does make it a bit limited in what you can cook and the first tell me what's We bought a lot of things like rice and tofu and vegetables from the convenience store what you're feeling easy to buy. But yeah, the rice over there. If you're too much of it, it can cause a lot of stomach issues if you're not used to eating it. So I wouldn't recommend going there and just stating Ross, you probably don't need something a little more varied. So what we've done other times we sort of learn each time is that we take several boxes of measly bars and things like that on nuts and just sort of non perishable type, healthy snack foods. And then we'll buy a fair bit of fruit as well, and we would tend to probably I only have, like one Russell noodle mail a day because if you ain't nothing but that and you're not really used to it, it can cause a lot of issues and make you very uncomfortable,

spk_3:   25:46
right? Right. Wow. So these are some of the things that you might not think about. But with you being a veteran traveller who's been there multiple times, it sounds like you've had quite a few different experiences. What was the most exciting thing that you did in Japan?

spk_0:   26:02
Probably the most exciting thing. Oh, that's so hard. It's really hard to answer that

spk_1:   26:11
question because there were just so many things who are looking forward to. But probably the most exciting thing for me was going to Disneyland because we don't have a Disneyland in Australia, and the day that we went there, it was a bit overcast on rainy, and it just wasn't that busy. So we got to ride about

spk_0:   26:32
20 rides in a day. I think the longest we had to line up was about 40 minutes.

spk_3:   26:37
Wow,

spk_1:   26:38
and you know, we got to see the parade and everything, and that was really awesome. But there have been a lot of things that have left an impression like going to see the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto. And we had the binoculars. Um, you're looking at it. And what it is, if you're able to see it close up through binoculars, is they have all these little gold leaves that completely cover the building. And on a clear day, I it it just looks amazing. And we also saw Mt. Fuji on a clear day, which apparently is very rare. And I just remember waking up that morning and looking at the window. There's milk through G. Well, we went to the like there, and I think I just sat there, sort of on the sand, looking at Mount Fuji for about half an hour, just sitting there looking at it.

spk_3:   27:35
It sounds very peaceful.

spk_1:   27:36
Yeah, yeah, And if you happen, Thio get to see the mountain on a clear day. That's very fortunate. People and I have lived in Japan ISS. It'll you know Mount Fuji is great if you

spk_0:   27:47
actually get a look at it. It's like it's oh, overcast. You can't see it at all. Wow! And seeing places like Akihabara or Fabric town and nipple free for the first time. It's just like if you like video games, So you like selling. It's like a wonderland.

spk_3:   28:09
So do you plan on going back? Megan Knight plans

spk_1:   28:13
to go back just yet. I have no doubt that we probably will. But

spk_0:   28:18
each time we go there, there is always a lot of planning involved. Like the tickets for the plane trip comes on sale. So you buy the tickets and you

spk_3:   28:26
you know

spk_1:   28:27
we're going back to Japan, and then it's like we have to plan it because if you're going somewhere other than a major city, you do have to do a bit more planning. Like in rural areas. Sometimes, yeah, trains or buses only go like every two hours, for example, or three. If

spk_3:   28:47
I say so, it's

spk_1:   28:50
here, not well organized. It can end up sort of wasting an entire day. And

spk_0:   28:57
even though he did a lot of planning for our latest trip to Chicago, which is one of the smaller islands, way still found it a little

spk_1:   29:03
bit tough getting around because a lot of things Aaron Con ji and we can't really read kanji, so that makes it quite difficult. You sort

spk_0:   29:13
of think OK, is this the right train station. You're kind of looking on a map guy. Okay, Yeah, this should be the one on. You know, if you get off at the wrong station, you might be sitting there for 1 to 2 hours. And the most exciting thing is a supermarket.

spk_3:   29:29
Oh, wow. That would be a big disappointment.

spk_0:   29:33
So yeah. Yeah, you do have to be careful, but yeah, having said that, there was some excellent things on that small island that we went to, you know, lay sickle, fascinating museums. And the IAEA Valley, which is right in the middle of Chicago's, is just very beautiful.

spk_3:   29:52
It's a

spk_0:   29:53
sort of using unsporting place, and there are a lot of amazing on sin hotels and things there, which is my sustained for one mill at you just for the experience.

spk_3:   30:07
Well, thank you, Megan. I really appreciate you coming on the program today. No problems on Earth. Well, that does conclude this episode of heart to heart with Anna. Thanks for listening today, my friends, if you enjoyed today's show, please consider being a patron for the cost of a pizza. You could be a member of the hug podcast network for a whole year and help us to continue making great shows like this one. And remember, my friends, you are not

spk_2:   30:32
alone again for joining us this week way Hope you have been inspired on, Empowered to become an advocate for the congenital heart defects community. Heart to heart with Anna, with your host and Dworsky can be heard every Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern time.