Those who suffer with any kind of chronic pain know the conflicting emotions that arise when heading out on vacation. You may be dreading the thought of being confined on an airplane seat or sleeping on an uncomfortable hotel mattress or disrupting sleep mates because your pain keeps you awake at night—all of which can ruin your vacation.
Planning ahead will be “mission-critical” for your vacation. Taking a vacation with the proper management of your chronic pain will help you enjoy and have more pleasure than if you don’t plan for it. Here are some tips that may help you for traveling when you have pain:
Prepare your prescriptions and/or medications and medical devices ahead of time.
Don’t be caught without enough (or any) of your medications. For refills, call your pharmacy or doctor at least 10 days before your vacation. And, bring them in your carry-on bag if you are flying so that if your luggage gets lost, you are not without your meds. if you are traveling with health-related medications, liquids, machines (such as a C-PAP unit) or with braces, canes, etc. you have certain rights and responsibilities to be able to travel with them as well as the declaration and handling of these items. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) can inform you and help you know what you need to do to travel by airplane. Go to http://www.tsa.gov/ for details.
Don't attempt to carry on all of your luggage. Check your bag and keep it light! If you can't lift your bag above your head, you won't be able to put it in the overhead compartment, so only carry what you can fit under the seat in front of you. Also, use the push carts that help you get from your luggage from the car to check-in or from baggage claim back to your car.
Consider your sleeping arrangements to provide yourself the most comfort.
If you can, bring the pillows that create the most comfort for you while traveling or sleeping at night. If you need extra padding, pick up the same cushion foam mattress at your destination that you use at home…or better, bring yours. Pull back all of the sheets in the hotel bed and place it just as you do at home. Sheets won’t fit over it? Bring some from home that you know will.
If you have to share a room and you move around a lot at night or just can’t sleep through all of the pain, inform your bunk mate. They’ll understand. And, if they don’t, pay extra for another room so that you don’t let this ruin your vacation. It will be worth the extra money.
Ask for assistance.
If you need a room with a shower and no bathtub, a room closer to the elevator, a helping hand up and down while touring, ask for it! There is always someone willing to lift a bag into the overhead compartment for you if you ask! Don’t be afraid to ask for help or special accommodations.
If you are doing lengthy traveling by plane or car, you may be required to sit for extended periods of time. If driving, stop every two hours for a 10-minute stretch. If you are on a plane, take a walk to the restroom when you start to feel pain or discomfort. And, you can also do some stretches in your seat. Stretch your arms and neck. Wiggle your toes and ankles. With your feet flat on the floor, lift your heels and tighten your calf muscles. And, do stretches in the morning before you head out for a busy day of sightseeing and before bed when you return.
The best part of vacations sometimes is that you have no real agenda that has to be met. If you are tired, sleep. If the day before was too much for you, cancel your participation in the next day’s activities. Your friends or family will understand. Sometimes managing pain is simply about getting the proper amount of rest.
Wear comfortable shoes.
No flip-flops and high heel shoes if you have a lengthy day of activities ahead of you. At the end of the day, pamper your feet by a nice soak or put your feet up to reduce any swelling or pain.
Drink lots of water and eat right.
Be sure to drink lots of water to stay hydrated to reduce fatigue. Eating right will help you to feel better, too. Of course, experience the cuisine your vacation destination offers, but if unhealthy, moderation will help you to feel well.
Allow plenty of time to get from point A to point B.
Acknowledge that you may need more time. Don’t add to your stress by being booked too tight with your plans. Build extra time into your schedule if you need more to get ready and meet the fam for the day’s activities. If your body requires naps, take a power nap when you are in the car and traveling to the next stop!
At the end, remember the good time you had and not the pain your experienced.
Take pictures and gather souvenirs to remind of the fun things you did, people you did it with and great times you had! Your pain will cease upon returning to your best routine at home. Don’t dwell on how difficult everything was or how bad you felt. Joy from the memories you created can be as powerful as the medications you take to help you heal.
Ortho El Paso closes by saying “Bon voyage!” and have a wonderful time. And, if you need us when you return, we’ll be here. And, bring your vacation photos. We’ll want to see them!