Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Best Therapy

I love to travel, but sometimes it is difficult when I’m not feeling well. What most people take for granted, we who suffer from chronic illness must consider when doing the simplest things. Even a road-trip is a big deal for us.

The September issue of Westways Magazine, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s travel magazine, contained an article by Heidi Nye, “The Best Therapy, the rigors and rewards of traveling with a disability.” This article got me to thinking, we who suffer with Sickle-cell disease should also enjoy life despite our condition….why not travel?

Heidi says, “Travel emphasizes the big, wide world, making it easier to not focus on your infirmities. The aches, pains, and inconveniences of chronic illness or disability temporarily take a backseat to the adventure ride of new sights, sounds textures and tastes.”

I say, “Amen to that sister!”

When we (who suffer with chronic illness) travel, we have to be smart and prepared. I thought I’d share a few of my travel tips, in addition to Heidi’s found in the Westways Magazine article.

1. Plan Ahead –

a. I check weather conditions so that I can dress appropriately. If I get too cold or overheat that can trigger me to have a ‘crisis’.

b. I check the elevation to make sure it is not over 4,000 feet (anything over 3,500 feet makes me begin to feel light-headed and over 4,000 begins elevation sickness associated sickle-cell)

c. I check travel distance or time. If it is a flight, I check how many layovers (stops) my flight might include. The more time it takes me to travel the worse it is for me.

d. I look for non-stop flights with larger airline companies that have larger airplanes. This way I'm confortable. If I have to travel for more than 5 hours I experience leg swelling and pain.

2. Schedule Wisely – I always pace my travel schedule to include rest. The first day AND last day of every trip is my rest day. If I’m travelling with other people I let them know, “I’m taking a nap,” and then I slip away for a few hours….they will understand.

3. Food/Water – If I need certain things to eat or drink I buy them when I arrive at my destination. If it's bottled water, I buy large jugs and keep them in my room. I carry small bottles of water with me everywhere. I make sure that I don’t eat fast food (too often) because it makes me feel dehydrated and sluggish.

4. Pace Activities - I don’t include too many activities in one day. I look at what events are planned and I decide how much I can do. I don’t try to keep up with anyone. I enjoy travel, but I enjoy good health even more.

My conclusion is that I may just sit and watch a sunset, but that’s just fine with me.