What If Your Kids Get Sick?

It has happened.

Multiple times.

And we’ve only been outside the United States since March 22, 2014 or one week shy of 6 months.

What can go wrong in six months right?

First it started with Becky’s wisdom teeth. Then it was Josiah’s Hydrocele.

But then during our last week in South Africa Zander came down with a fever.

We were on our dream safari, self driving through Kruger park, looking at wild animals, hunting to find them and then enjoying them in their natural habitat free of fences and cages.

But our baby boy, our two year old, our sweet Zan the man, was down for the count.

On days when we needed to travel, he slept much of the time on the floor at Becky’s feet.


Background on Health

We’re not normal: What american family...

  • Has 4 kids these days?
  • Chooses homeschooling?
  • of 6 chooses to be homeless?

So yeah, when it comes to health decisions we’re not normal either.

We don’t do well-baby checkups. Or vaccines, or circumcision.

We don’t do antibiotics, or children's Tylenol.

And we don’t judge those who do. It’s a decision. We don’t judge those who choose to live in the states, we don’t judge people who send their kids to public or private education. Each family is entitled to their own decisions and for those decisions we don’t judge them.

We ask that you not judge us either.

So when it comes to health we choose natural, homeopathics, and other herbal forms or remedies.

Part of that philosophical decision on health says that fevers are designed by God to heal our bodies.

But Things Can Go Wrong

Z had a fever for 3 days and now we were growing concerned. We were within 36 hours of flying to a country where the majority of people do not speak English. Would he recover from his fever by then? What if he got worse on the 10 hour flight? or the second flight that was around 6 hours…

Oh, and he was becoming dehydrated.  When the fever would spike, he refused to drink.

And we hadn’t slept well since his bed was in our room and a fevered sleep doesn’t accommodate good sleep for others in the room.

His fever was 104.7 and there was no end in sight.

We were in the bush, a 45 minute drive from the pharmacy that closed in an hour (both of which we didn’t know) The doctors office had already closed and the hospital was a 2.5 hour drive away.

We consulted with our medical advisors.

We consulted with our travel insurance. We were covered if we wanted to stay (interrupt our flights) until Z was well, and we were covered for medical bills to get him well again.

So pop quiz hot shot parents.

  • Do you go to the on-call doctor who will probably prescribe medications you cannot get until morning?
  • Do you pack up the family and move to the hospital 2.5 hours away?
  • Do you wait it out?
  • Do you feed him Childrens Tylenol which will only be a temporary fix? (can you get to the pharmacy in time?)

Decision Time

We decided to grab a fever reducer (similar to children’s tylenol). As I was asking for directions to the pharmacy the manager of the Lodge we were staying at said the pharmacy closes at 6pm, it’s a 45 minute drive and it was already 5:25 (5:30 by the time I got to the van and on the road).

Lets just say I’m thankful both the wild and domestic animals moved out of my way, there were no traffic police on the road that night and the 40+ semi trucks were able to be passed!

We used the fever reducer on Z that night, 3 doses to make it through the night.

In the morning we packed up and headed for Joburg. A 7 to 8 hour drive including a bunch of errands to do in Joburg and then fly out at 10pm. But when we left the lodge we didn’t know if we were going to fly. If Z’s fever returned when the medicine wore off... would we stay in South Africa or would we medicate him through the flight?

There are moments in a parent's life when you realize the importance of the decision you make, how much impact it will have etc. There are many more times as a parent when you don’t understand the impact your decisions have. but in this case we knew what we were doing, and what could go wrong. But with every passing kilometer we were getting closer to better health care (in Pretoria).

Praise be to God, Zander’s fever didn't return. His body was able to fight off the infection and he had more energy but was tired from the 4 day long infection fight.

Despite having a flight canceled on us and an unexpected stopover in Doha we arrived in Bulgaria on Friday and Z was in perfect health and back to normal.


Thys, however, came down with a fever on the flight to Bulgaria (Thankfully not en route to Doha!).

Thanks to Z showing us the ropes we knew this was going to be a long and high fever. We also had some fever reducer left over in case Thys needed it.

However, Thys handled the fever differently and was able to drink through most of it. This morning (Monday) he work up having most of the fever gone (we already saw improvement yesterday) and his fever never did get higher than 102.

We’re Blessed

The other 4 of us might still have to work through what ever infection that was, or perhaps we already did and didn’t need to present with a fever. Whatever the case we’re still blessed.

Despite wisdom teeth, hydroceles, and fevers we’re traveling as a lifestyle for these 9 months and God has provided safety, and general good health.


Have you had any medical "scares" while away from home?  Far from medical help?   Scary situation with sick kids/spouse/friend/self?

Paul Kortman

Dad of 4, husband, blogger, digital marketer, follower of Jesus. I podcast at nomadtogether.com and own connexdigitalmarketing.com We're on this crazy journey to travel the world as a lifestyle. Looking for help in how to live as a digital nomad family? Join this Facebook Group!

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