Remember that list game you played when you were a kid (or now, as an adult- I’m not here to judge)? You said something to the effect of, “I’m going on a picnic, and I’m taking an apple.” Then the next kid would say, “I’m going on a picnic, and I’m taking an apple, and a banana.” The game kept going with each person trying to remember what everyone before them had said as well as adding on a new item for the appropriate letter of the alphabet. It was pretty much the epitome of lame, rainy day recess games, but it holds a spot in all of our memories. Okay, now that I’ve brought that pleasant childhood memory back into your mind, I would like to point out that packing to travel with someone with a chronic illness is pretty much like playing that game.
Joe and I are trying to go on an end of summer/ back to school mini vacation, and the preparations are a little daunting. We leave on Wednesday, so I have a few days to get my act together, but ultimately, something will be left at home. Then it will be purchased somewhere along the way for three times the amount I would normally pay for it, because strange medical things are exactly what I like to spend money on when I travel. So, here’s the break down. The stuff I know I’ll need or the stuff that could possibly be needed. (My theory is that if I put all this into a blog I can refer to the blog when I pack and not forget anything. Yeah, right.)
1. Before I leave. Aside from packing there are a few other ways I need to prepare for a trip. For example, I’ve been doing laundry the past few days, because if I save it all for the day before we leave, I’ll make myself sick doing laundry pre-trip. (Joe offered to help, but the last time he “helped” I ended up with my new “hand-wash only” pants being washed with the towels.) I’ll rest the next few days, too. There’s nothing more frustrating than finally getting to your destination and being too tired to enjoy it. Also, my entire ability to stay upright (and conscious) hinges on the amount of hydration I’ve had, so there will be a ridiculous amount of water and Gatorade drunk over the next few days.
2. “Sick person” junk. As depressing as it sounds, there will be an extra bag (and then some) devoted to stuff that ‘normal’ 29 year olds don’t pack when they travel. Obviously, I need to take my medicine with me. In addition to meds, I’ll need to take a blood pressure cuff (It determines whether or not I take certain meds.), a wheelchair (Snooki!), a handicap parking permit, medical alert bracelet (in case I’m too sick and Joe is too scared to remember what is wrong with me when the paramedics show up!), and a host of ‘just in case’ meds (Because fevers, headaches, and nausea will happen- they just will.).
3. Creature comforts. I’ve said this before, but it’s still true- I’m a diva. I don’t mean to be a diva. As a matter of fact, I don’t really believe that I’ve always been a diva, but chronic illness has a way of doing that to you. Here’s the thing; the minor annoyances in life (a warm room, lumpy pillow, rainy day, etc.) used to be minor to me as well. Now, dealing with something that is seemingly minor is enough to make me sick, in pain, etc for weeks. So . . . I’ll also pack a handheld fan (My mom got it for me, and it’s a lifesaver sometimes!), a pillow, blanket, jackets, compression pants (For people, like me, with POTS these help prevent blood pooling in your feet!), and plenty of ‘stuck in bed entertainment’ in case I have an extra sick day.
*Helpful Hint- If you don’t travel well, throw a couple fluffy comforters and pillows in the back seat. You can still buckle up (I’m not advocating anything unsafe here, friends!), but all the fluffy stuff absorbs the motion, and you won’t get quite so beaten up on the ride.
4. Food and Drinks. No, we aren’t those people who pack their own bologna and refuse to eat a single meal at a restaurant while we travel. But, my diva tendencies demand that I have plenty of ‘Tiffany-friendly’ food and drinks available at all times. Do you know how difficult it is to find something gluten free at a drive-thru when you’re traveling? And, Gatorade is a staple. If my blood pressure is plummeting, Joe doesn’t want to drive 20 miles with an unconscious passenger while he looks for a gas station to buy a nice electrolyte replenisher.
5. Oh yeah, normal people stuff. It always disappoints me a little when I realize that even after I pack all of the necessary stuff that go along with being a chronic illness diva, I still have to pack clothes. I mean, seriously, is it too much to ask for some things to just handle themselves? Actually, I’m pretty sure I don’t want Joe to offer to pack my clothes for me, so I guess I’ll just shoulder that burden alone.
*Helpful tip- If you are capable of maneuvering yourself, feel free to dress however you like. If you, like me, will be riding in a wheelchair, it might be wise to rethink wearing any cute, vintage cartoon character clothes. Somehow, wheelchair + cartoon character tshirt (that would be totally cute and appropriate on someone walking)= perceived mental disability. You’re welcome.
If there’s any point at all to this blog (and I’m not always positive that there is), it’s to encourage couples that deal with chronic illness to live. I tried staying at home and bemoaning the life I was missing out on, and that’s no way to live. Yes, we’re sick. Yes, it complicates things. But, for goodness sake, live anyway. Traveling is going to take a lot of extra prep time for both the chronically ill and their partner, but it’s worth it.
I’m going on a trip and I’m taking antacid, a blood pressure cuff, clothes, Dramamine . . . (hehe).
By the way, Snooki is traveling with us, so expect an “Adventures of Snooki- Part Dos” soon.
Love, peace, and health, friends.