My trip with Addison’s disease to Greenland in May 2024 

For many years I have dreamed of going to Greenland. What made me unsure about going there is that no one else I know is either willing or able. Even the actual trip there and my diagnoses apart from Addison’s made me insecure for many years. 

My previous trips to the Arctic have gone well because I had travel companions. Iceland, Svalbard and Lofoten in Norway have had healthcare relatively close should something happen to my diagnoses. Since then, I have also had in my mind that anyone can get sick and what would make me more vulnerable? Unlike healthy people who get sick, with Addison I always carry my own first aid, that is, Solu-Cortef. This means that I dare to challenge myself and get to see environments that few people visit. 

Before I go on any trip, I do careful research. I check how far it is to hospitals, if they know and can treat both Addison’s disease and an Addison’s crisis. How many hours is the flight and how should I change my daily dose of cortisone given the time zone? During the trips, I am careful to pay attention to symptoms because flight times, airports, unfamiliar environments stress the body. I usually take extra cortisone on the day of the trip because it is usually long. 

Before I booked my trip to Greenland, I contacted the hospital in the capital Nuuk. I asked about Addison’s disease and they knew everything. That gave me the go-ahead to order the trip. 

I went as a single Swede on a group trip with others from Germany, Switzerland and Denmark. The reason for the group trip this time was to bring as much as possible and make it easy in an unfamiliar environment. It would be difficult to see everything I saw if I booked privately as there are no roads between the resorts. Airplane, helicopter and boat are the only options for traveling in Greenland. 

The first day I was worried in my body. Mainly because I was alone and stressed that nothing would happen. Would I come by buses, flights, hotel rooms? It turned out that everything was correct, but that I still had to be vigilant about everything all the time as a solo traveler with four chronic diagnoses. I took extra cortisone given the anxiety, the time difference of four hours and a long day. I also drank a lot of fluids and I tried to rest when I could. 

Once in Greenland, everything went well. The schedule was followed and I just had to think about not getting symptoms, fitting the schedule and dressing warmly. I remember wearing five layers of clothing while standing on the ferry to keep from freezing. Zero degrees and strong wind take their toll. 

We visited small towns several hours from the mainland. There was really no help other than the rescue helicopter if something happened. If we fell into the water, we would cool down and die in five minutes. Everything went well! 

Extremely stubborn and with a great will it becomes possible for me. It also shows others that they can do it too. Well aware with insight and knowledge, nothing should be able to stop us from living and doing everything we want. This experience will form the basis for next year’s trip to Nepal, Kathmandu and helicopter to Mount Everest.