Traveling with a Chronic Condition
I used to absolutely love traveling, especially before I was diagnosed. It wasn’t as exhausting as it is now, having a chronic condition like NMO.
Staying mindful while traveling with NMO
There are many things I take into consideration when and before I decide to travel. Now, of course, with COVID-19, I’m first considering whether or not where I’m traveling has a high rate of COVID-19 cases.
I'm a proud germ freak!
Even before COVID-19, I was a germ freak. I wore a mask on planes before they even mandated it. Some would say I’m a bit over the top when it comes to protecting myself; however, as I said, I have always been a germ freak!
Sanitizer is my best friend
I also have always sanitized the armchair, seat buckle (yes, I said seat buckle), back seat table, and of course, anything in the bathrooms while on the plane and at the airport. If I’m staying at a hotel, I will sanitize everything - and I mean everything! From the door knobs to the light fixtures, the TV remote, and anything else I would have to touch or use in the room are sanitized.
Giving myself an extra day to recuperate
Now that I have covered what a sanitizer and germ freak I am, I also want to share that when I travel, I always take an extra day off when I get back to rest before I return to work (this was when I was working, before going on disability).
I needed this extra day before returning to work just for rest and for my body to recover from traveling and my trip.
Chronic fatigue has changed how I travel
Having Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder, I've developed chronic fatigue over the years. I find that traveling makes me extra fatigued and sucks all the energy I have right out of me. This is important for me to remember when planning out any trip or when I’m traveling. I know when I'm on a trip and not sleeping in my own bed, I have to pace myself and not overcommit to doing too many things - otherwise, I will pay for it later.
Bring extra medications, know what resources are available
The most important reminder: have fun!
It is definitely not easy and is exhausting for me to travel with a chronic illness. I know, for me, this has made it more difficult as I get older. I know the most important thing that I and anyone with a chronic illness can do before and when traveling with a chronic condition is to plan ahead, pace yourself and always prepare for the worse, but most importantly, have FUN!!
The best suggestion and piece of advice I would give my younger self is to go and travel while you’re still able to and have fun - make sure you’re listening to your body and know that you may not get to do everything you may have planned for. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead, celebrate how far you’ve come, have a wonderful time, and travel while you can!
Were you misdiagnosed, prior to being diagnosed with NMOSD?