There are a couple of things you have to do before hiking the Andes Mountains — and putting a new spin on the concept of a passport is apparently among them.
Wendy Coulson, of State College, was sitting in a hospital attempting to help fill out paperwork for a friend who had been given morphine — it was slow goings.
That’s when she got the idea for the “My Body Passport,” a journal where people could record all of their pertinent medical information in the event of a crisis at home or on the road.
It’s just not on some computer data sheet somewhere where you’re hoping that someone notices.
“It’s just not on some computer data sheet, somewhere where you’re hoping that someone notices,” Coulson said.
She developed the idea with her sister, Dr. Laura Coulson, a family medicine physician.
Pedigrees aside, the siblings developed their passport with an eye toward those who have not completed eight or more years of medical school.
There are pages for immunizations, blood labs and ongoing medications, all laid out neatly in layman’s terms.
“In a good way, we argued about every single page,” Wendy Coulson said.
She found a fan in Vincent Simone, who saw an image of the “My Body Passport” on Instagram and just so happened to be preparing for a 35-person trek through the Andes Mountains.
The expedition would follow the Inca Trail into the city of Machu Picchu in hope of promoting awareness and funding for caregiver programs designed for patients with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases.
There’s grassroots groups really staring down these diseases.
Coulson was invited to join 35 hikers from six countries on the trail and relished the opportunity to brush up on her Spanish and see the sights.
“I’m still processing and it’s been two weeks,” Coulson said.
She was impressed by the fortitude of her cohorts, especially the six hikers diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease who climbed up and down the trail’s stone steps.
Coulson hopes that the awareness generated by events like the Machu Picchu excursion gives others living with the diseases hope.
“There’s grass-roots groups really staring down these diseases,” Coulson said.
“My Body Passport” is available for order on Amazon.