I’m not going sugarcoat anything when it comes to traveling with a chronic illness. There is always anxiety that comes with being farther from home. One of the worst parts, it never goes away. When we aren’t doing well, the anxiety is always going to be high. And when we are doing well, the fear is still there. It’s not the easiest way to live, and it always makes traveling a little less enjoyable.
Now despite my Crohn’s disease, ostomy, asthma, and arthritis, I’ve been lucky enough to have periods in my life, which made bigger trips possible. There have also been times in my life when a road trip more than two hours was an epic adventure, with enormous amounts of preparation.
For a few years now, traveling has been a little easier than in the past. My ostomy has been treating me very well, my Crohn’s has been managed to give me a break, my asthma has been under control, and my arthritis hasn’t been bad.
BUT, I have a trip that I went on this week that made me nervous and remember when the anxiety of traveling isn’t just in the back of my head. Now the concern is coming from my health being worse than it has been in years. I don’t want to say I am in a bad place, but all of the above illnesses are flaring right now at some level, and it’s getting annoying.
This trip was to speak at an event in Chicago. The few times I have been to Chicago have lead me to fall in love with the city. There are many attractions that I am excited to see and places to eat. I can’t wait to get there. Yet the excitement has been lowered for this trip because I am not feeling well or stable.
SOOOO, this blog is about being realistic when it comes to living with a chronic illness. But it also is about how to solve the problems that come with a chronic illness. The question now is, how do I figure out my health to make any trip as enjoyable as it can be?
Here are a few things that have worked for me in the past, and ones that I will do again for this trip.
No matter how I am doing with my health, I always plan ahead as much as I possibly can before a trip. Now since I am not feeling well currently, I will take this preparation to another level. Generally, I will pack what I know I need. Still, this time, I will run through various scenarios of what could possibly happen while I am away. This will include what if something happens when I am out of the hotel or around people? So this week, I sat down and actually brainstormed with my tablet to answer the “what if?” questions that might arise. Then packing accordingly.
Schedule Me Time
While I’m attending a work event, and my schedule will be fixed at times, I will still make sure that I schedule time for myself and take care of my health. This could be to ensure I have time before dinner to relax in my room for no less than 30 minutes. It can also be to meditate while I have a short break between sessions. These are just two examples, but I will make sure self-care is a primary focus while away from home.
Reach Out To Friends
I am lucky to have friends from various stages of my life living all over the country. Some of these friends are people I have known for years that I grew up with, some are just from the communities I advocate for that I’ve been fortunate enough to cross paths with. But whenever I travel, I will let people in the area know I am there for two reasons. One, because I love to catch up with the great people in my life. And two, because it’s nice to know you have a support team around you.
Give Yourself Extra Time
Whether it’s before I arrive or after I am done, or if I can swing it both, I plan extra time to make sure I am never too rushed. We all know stress causes many chronic illnesses to flare, and this is something we all want to avoid. So when it’s possible, I will arrive at least a few hours before the first scheduled meeting. Depending on the trip, this might even be the night before. I will also leave time on the backend too. What’s worse than finishing your day, grabbing all of your bags, and running to the airport, wondering if you’ll even have time to sit down? Not much when you have a chronic illness to manage. This trip, I have an extra day to see friends and some sites before heading home. This will reduce the amount of stress I am have, allow me to enjoy things a little more, and get back home, all while limiting my chances for a flare. Woohoo!
So these are just a few of the things I know for sure I will be doing on this trip.