Bon Voyage

By Lauren Kovacs

Most of us with MS see travel as a visit to an energy sucking monster.  At least, it is a trip I avoid. Ok, fine, my voyages include a trip to my couch most days. If I am adventurous, I might go to a drive-thru and get ice coffee.

There are handicapped-type plans you can make. When booking a hotel stay, ask for a handicapped accessible room. They generally have more room in the bathrooms and have shower grab bars. Grab bars in the shower are a must. I also found a travel shower chair.

I also put one of those suction cup handles in my shower chair bag too. It travels with me.  It is nice to place it exactly where I need it. Being 4’11” makes grab bar placement lower for me.

As a kid, I was great on monkey bars. It serves me well now, as I often avoid falls by swings on the grab bars in the shower, if I slip. I pride myself on having very strong arms.

I travel with a walker in a garment badge for air travel and ride in my wheelchair. Let the airline know if you need assistance. Flying is a pain.

Going through airport security is not fun for anyone. When they checked my ponytail and waist band, I knew I was special. A tiny blonde handicapped lady always raises the security risk. My ponytail is a great place to hide stuff, I guess.

My tremors are dangerous. I once threw an ice cream cup at my mother-in-law. Thankfully my aim, as a former softball player, made me miss.  Plus, being 90 lbs, I can hide stuff in my waist band too easily. Please!

I was waiting for my body cavity search next. I don’t fly often. I must look suspicious. A neighbor called the police, once, saying I looked suspicious, as I waited at the bus stop with my then 8-year-old.

Mostly, I travel by car. My limit is 2-3 hours. I only drink water, too. Public restrooms gross me out. Water means fewer potty needs. I would love some coffee or Coke. I sacrifice caffeine so I won’t be exposed to too many germs. Having to stop and pee on the Jersey Turnpike is not on my bucket list.

Plan well. Be sure you have all your medications. Know where urgent care is, in case of those pop-up problems. A UTI or a bad fall can ruin your trip. If hot, take cooling stuff too.

Drinking slushees is a great way to cool off too. Like me, cold chills can turn into marathon shivers. If you get those, what is your plan? Know how to safely warm up.

After being out in the heat and then going into cold A/C, I had a bad case of shivers a few years ago. Once in our hotel room, I got into a hot bath. I lay on my belly, keeping my neck and spine out if the heat. Short of flopping out of the tub like a seal, I had to have my hubby help me.

Plan plan plan. Try and have an idea of how you would deal with the “what if?” Not fun, but planning for those could save you stress and energy. We all know what is often a result of stress.

Find what destinations have the best help. I found one place that is stellar for this. Sadly, my boys are too old now for this place. I have no princesses. I am the princess in a house full of pirates now. There are other places though that provide lots of help.

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About MSAA

As a national nonprofit organization, the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America is a leading resource for the entire MS community, improving lives today through vital services and support. MSAA provides free programs and services, such as: a toll-free Helpline; award-winning publications including a magazine, The Motivator; website featuring educational videos and research updates; S.E.A.R.C.H.™ program to assist the MS community with learning about different treatment choices; a mobile phone app, My MS Manager™; a resource database, My MS Resource Locator; equipment distribution ranging from grab bars to wheelchairs; cooling accessories for heat-sensitive individuals; educational events and activities; MRI funding and insurance advocacy; and more. For additional information, please visit http://www.mymsaa.org or call (800) 532-7667.

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