Chronic Illness Travel Concerns

Chronic Illness Travel Concerns

Medicine X is in 3 weeks! eek!! (have you signed up to watch the free online stream yet??)

I can’t even believe it. I know I said that in my last post, but seriously. I feel like I just found out I was selected to go . . . which was almost 7 months ago now! This year is flllllllyyyiinnnggg by!

This week I booked my flights and reality hit. (yes, I know, I do a lot of things late. I’m used to a job where I would book my return flight home 3 days before I needed it. . . not that that was the right thing to do haha)

1350827357559_7044218Soon I’ll be leaving on a jet plane out west. Travel is second nature to me. I used to live my life between airports, airplanes, rental cars and hotel rooms. I’m the type that thinks it’s completely unnecessary to get to an airport 2 hours before hand, unlesssss you’re going to drink prior to your flight. In that case, no time is too early (with the exception of airport policies haha!)

Thinking about traveling again I started getting so excited. My favorite feeling in the whole world is when a plane takes off. Ahhhhh I love it. It’s so exciting, even if you are just headed to Middle Of Nowhere, USA for work.

Since I’ve been on crutches I’ve gone on a few trips, but I’ve always been with at least one other person. This trip I’ll be solo. Which, not gonna lie… and this is totally going to make me sound like a loner, but I like traveling by myself better. I get really frustrated with travelers who aren’t well seasoned. (I know, definitely a snobbish comment. I’ll admit that)

But to get ready and get a grip on the stress of traveling solo to the conference, here are a few tips for my chronically fabulous friends.

Ways to get rid of chronic illness travel stress:

Schedule a direct flight. These are RARE nowadays from Pittsburgh, unless you’re going to a hub. I lucked out and found a direct flight from Pittsburgh to San Fran. I have to leave super early, but honestly, no connection is 10000% worth it
Check my bag. Even if I only pack a carry on, it will make it easier so I don’t have to roll my bag around the airport. When I worked we used to make fun of people who had to check their bags, but ya know what… i’m not trying to impress anyone! I’m traveling stress free and checking my bag will help that. Gotta look out for #1!
Request wheelchair assistance. At first I was always embarrassed about requesting a wheelchair, but now I know there’s no other way around it. These days I don’t have the energy to walk the entire airport. They take me from the bag drop off right to my gate. Can’t be any easier.
Chronic Illness Travel ConcernsGet on the plane early. The flight crew always allows people who need extra time to board first. Usually whoever I’m with will wheel me down the jet bridge right to the cabin door, so I’m not sure what will happen this time. My plan is to ask the attendant at the check in desk to have someone wheel me down. Once I’m on the plane, depending on the type of plane, the flight attendants will either stow my crutches in the overhead bin or in a first class closet. It does pose a problem if I need to get up during the flight and use the rest room, but luckily I’m to the point where I could walk the small aisle and support myself on the seats if I needed to. I am a bit bummed because I do like to sit up close to the front of the plane. It’s easier to get in and easier to get out. Heading out to San Fran I have a seat close to the front, but heading home my seat is almost in the last row. You could say what does this matter, but it’s the small things that count. I plan on asking the attendant at check in if there is a seat closer to the front of the plane. Nowadays they charge significantly more (starting at like $75 more) for seats at the front of the plane. Man, anything to make a buck. So ridiculous.
Plan ahead of time. To reduce any unnecessary stress that the travel days may cause I will make sure to plan everything out a head of time. I’m going to talk to the other ePatients and see when they’re arriving at the airport. Hopefully someone else will be arriving around the time I will be so we can catch a ride together. I’m getting in really early in the AM, so I plan on sleeping by the pool the rest of the day… and this is A-OK with me!
Pack a bag for the plane that I can carry easily. I probably look ridiculous on my crutches sometimes. I really hate having to ask for help all the time and will try to do a lot of things myself. Don’t get me wrong, I still do ask for help when I need it, but I have gotten quite good at juggling a few different items in my hands and still use my crutches. It’s a skill you learn when you’re on crutches long term. My bag that I take needs to carry quite a few things – my computer, iPad, snacks, magazines, things to keep me busy during the flight – but also needs to be light enough to not weigh me down and put more stress on my knee. This will be interesting, but I can do it. Watch and learn people…. watch and learrrrrrrn 🙂
Bring food. Since my diet is so specific and restricted these days I need to make sure I’m prepared. Airport food is hardly ever healthy (there are a few airports that have exceptions), so I will be prepared with numerous snacks on hand. I always travel with my water bottle so I can have access to hydration. Traveling, I want to make sure I stay hydrated so I can be as alert as possible. Also, it’s good to carry water with you incase you need to take medication. Just make sure to bring an empty water bottle to the airport and fill it up after the security check point.
Wear breathable clothes that won’t add stress to my travels. Seems like common sense, but I still like to look cute when traveling. I hate when people wear their pjs. Like, come on – seriously? You can make yoga pants look appropriate when traveling. It’s been done. When I traveled for work I never really got to dress for comfort, but I like leggings and an oversized shirt. It’s so comfy. And I ALWAYS bring a scarf. Even if it’s 100* outside. I can use it as a pillow, blanket, lower back support, jacket, stylish accessory, the possibilities are endless and it’s definitely one of my top travel necessities.
Pack medication in carry on. I will make sure to pack my medications in my carry on bag. I wish I could stow my big ass medicine box in my checked bag, but I can’t take the chance. If the airlines lost my luggage that would cause significant problems.
Adjust medicine alerts to new time zone. Currently I have my alarms set on my phone to remind me to take my meds. You’d think I would remember and it would be second nature, but I still need the reminder. haha! Once I’m on my way, I will need to adjust my alarms to make sure I’m still taking my meds at the appropriate times!
Hotel accommodations. Luckily I don’t need any special hotel accommodations, but if I did I would make sure to call and set these up ahead of time. No use stressing over something that could be dealt with before I even step foot in the lobby!
Pacing My Schedule. I’m the type of person that will run, run, run, and push myself to the max. I hate not being able to do things and I especially hate missing out on things. While I’m out at Medx I can see myself wanting to do something every night with the other ePatients after the conference. I’m going to need to make sure I pace myself. I need to get in my head that every time someone’s doing something doesn’t mean I have to participate. The wonderful thing about Medx is that everybody will be in the same boat as me! So if I say I’m tired or I need to rest, I won’t get the ‘ohhhh, just push through it. You’ll be fine. Maybe you just need to get out.’ I also need to make sure I pace myself getting around the conference venue. Renting a wheelchair isn’t completely out of the question. I’m never one to forgo sleep – so I know I’ll be pretty good about that one 😉


Those are the details I’ve been working through right now, but there are about 100 and 1 other things that I could list as well.

Bottom line is, be prepared. And be prepared for anything to happen. The more you plan prior to your trip, the less stressed you will be. Run through your travel days in your head so you get a sense of what will happen and what obstacles you might run into. It’s impossible to plan for EVERYTHING – you don’t know what you don’t know. So make sure to be flexible and smile.

I’m so excited to be going on this trip I can hardly contain my excitement! Can’t wait to hang out with all my new ePatient friends and make new ones too!

I don’t look at MedX as just a medical conference, I look at it as hope. There is hope that I can make a difference. There is hope that I can travel again. There is hope that this illness won’t keep me down forever! There is hope that my future is bright. 😀

Wishing You A Pain Free Day!