Life with MS takes more time and consideration than life before MS and that includes travelling. Everything from planning bathroom stops on longer car journeys to accessibility in hotels. I have done my share of travelling especially with regular trips home when I lived in the UK. Ironically my two biggest trips came post diagnosis and were both to Hawaii with my 4 sisters. The trips were almost 10 years apart and each had their own MS related stresses.
The first trip involved travelling with Copaxone injections. I was so worried about going through security, especially in the US, and facing the question “Do you have any sharps or liquids?” – I had BOTH!! I had myself feeling like a criminal waiting to be quizzed, frisked or worse! I had letters from my neurologist and physiotherapist, I even had copies just in case. The reality was so undramatic I was almost disappointed. Nobody blinked an eye – apparently I’m not the only person who travels with medication. Who knew?
By the second trip last year my MS meant new problems to overcome. Different medication so no needles but weakness in my legs means I’m less mobile. I knew I’d struggle at the airport and was so worried I would be a burden and didn’t want to ruin the holiday. My sisters suggested assistance at the airport and a scooter while in Hawaii. I found this really hard to get my head around as I have been so adamant that I do not want to have to use a wheelchair and to keep walking. When we got to the airport I insisted I would wheel the chair through the airport and only sit in it when exhausted. We picked up the chair and were ushered to the head of the check in queue, with me pushing the chair. My sisters then, not so politely, told me to sit in the bloody chair as people were looking at us skipping the queue. Once I gave in it was plain sailing, other than my sisters driving skills! Honestly the turbulence in the chair was worse than the flight!
It was the same with the scooter in Hawaii. Once I got over my initial horror at needing such a thing I realised how much independence it gave me and that I didn’t have to miss out on anything. We had such fun with the scooter as everyone had a go especially the three point turns in the hotel room.
The trip helped me reduce the fear I have that I will eventually need a wheelchair. It won’t be a bad thing, just a tool to make sure I don’t miss out on life. I have even moved on and gotten a rollator so I can get around more.
It upsets me to think of how long I spent stressing about all this and how I could have enjoyed things more if I wasn’t so wound up. My sisters were great at diffusing my hangups and fears and we actually laughed our way through. In fact they all say they won’t travel without me as we got through the airports so quickly!