Now that I’ve conquered chronic illness . . . I’m going to Disney World!

That’s right, friends, I said “conquered chronic illness.” Okay, maybe I haven’t “conquered” it, but I have at least taught chronic illness a few manners. Traveling with chronic illness is a bit like traveling with a toddler. Some days it behaves wonderfully (you know, like the cute toddler in a restaurant that is engaged in the conversation and not having a meltdown?). Other days, chronic illness spirals out of control into physical and emotional chaos (imagine that same kid kicking and screaming in the aisle of the grocery store). So, basically, I can say that I have conquered chronic illness with the same amount of assurance a parent can say that their 3 year old will definitely behave.

But . . . I have way better things to do than wonder what curve ball my body is going to throw next, so I’m going to Disney World. That means this hot mess express will be chugging through 2 airports, 2 flights, and 4 Disney parks within the next 6 days. I’ll have Joe (who is totally used to my misbehaving illness) and Snooki (the wheelchair- not the reality tv star), so it’s not exactly like I’m undertaking this adventure without help. However, I still have a contingency plan just in case a hip dislocates, or my blood pressure won’t cooperate, or my stomach forgets how to digest food. Basically I’m going to Disney World with books, notepads/ pens, logic puzzles, magazines,  . . . – anything to keep me entertained if my body decides that the entertainment provided is just too much to handle.

Four years ago (this coming June), Joe and I went on our honeymoon in Disney World. It was so incredibly fun, and we were making plans to return before we even left. Then, life happened; chronic illness happened; no longer working happened, and basically this whole crazy, chronic life thing exploded. I remember discussing with Joe that I would probably never be able to go back to Disney World. The first time we went we did everything. We tried every food and every ride. We stayed out late and got up early (okay, not super early but before lunch). And we walked, and walked, and walked in the blistering Florida sun.

Being entirely realistic, that will probably never happen again. Our first trip to Disney together will always be special, but I don’t actually believe my health will ever allow me to vacation with that much intensity ever again. When I believed that we would never go to Disney World again, it’s because I couldn’t imagine myself ever becoming someone who needed accommodations. Obviously that attitude only hurt me and my marriage. The rest of the world truly couldn’t care less if I enjoy Disney World on my feet or via Snooki. However, it’s really important to Joe and I that we recreate that magical first week of our marriage- regardless of if he’s pushing me around or not.

So, in honor of our “second honeymoon,” here are a few ways Disney World will be different this time than it was on our first honeymoon.

Snooki gets to join us. Snooki is my wheelchair, and she’s super fabulous. She tends to get lots of attention and ridiculous situations normally accompany her trips into public. Snooki is looking especially wonderful right now, because I just installed a cup holder on her. Now I can roll and sip Gatorade. That’s right, dehydration, you lose!

Opinions. So many opinions. Because Joe and I have “Disney-ed” together before, we know what we want to do. We have spent the past 3 months making and changing dinner and Fastpass reservations, choosing lunch and hydrations spots, and figuring out the best times to ride certain rides.We both have favorite attractions. (Thank goodness we mostly agree about the most important things to do and see first. If not, this trip could get tense quickly!)

There are breaks scheduled. Even with Snooki joining us, it’s probably not wise to spend hours baking in the hot sun (not to mention Joe will be pushing me most of the time, so he’ll probably need a break too).We’ve scheduled breaks during the hottest part of the day to avoid blistering sun and the cranky people that need afternoon naps as much as I do.

And . . .

Best of all . . .

We have matching t-shirts! It’s true. Joe and I have matching Disney t-shirts for every day of our trip! I know it sounds silly, and it is. But if you can’t be silly in Disney World, where can you? Besides, this will make it way easier to find my Snooki pusher (aka my husband), if he wanders.

Crazy, chronic lives are tough. Marriage is hard work. If there is a way to have fun and enjoy life together, make it happen.  I’m guessing that a week from now I will have stories of Snooki situations, too many souvenirs, and some serious exhaustion, but I will also have done something that I believed impossible at the beginning of this whole crazy chronic journey.

Peace, love, and health friends.

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