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Posted on 29. May 2014

Vacation Dread?

By Tammie Allegro

Talk of summer vacation and traveling to exotic places is music to most people's ears. But, for some of us with a chronic illness, travel comes with a little dread. On the one hand, there is the excitement of going somewhere new and enjoying a break. On the other hand, there is fear and anxiety about the things I can't control while traveling. For instance, there are travel laws concerning medications, and there are germs. On top of these is my fear of small spaces. All of this adds up to a recipe for stress and anxiety. 

My family is going on its first resort vacation. My husband and I took a honeymoon when we married, and we have done small trips here and there with our girls, but those typically involved a funeral or wedding. So, needless to say, I want to go big and do amazing things. I want to create memories and enjoy everything the resort has to offer. But, the first challenge is getting us there in one piece. I suffer from severe claustrophobia and anxiety. Not the run-of-the-mill case where you just don't like people in your personal space; I'm talking full-blown panic attacks in the airport in anticipation of the plane being too small. Some of my anxiety includes germs. So, I am planning ahead and bringing along a lot of distractions:

  • Hand sanitizers and wipes. I carry wipes and sanitizer around with me everywhere. I know they don't replace proper hand washing, but when I am on a plane or waiting in an airport, I don't always have time or energy to walk all the way to the washroom to clean up. Wipes are great for cleaning the armrests and other surfaces I am unsure about.
  • Books and movies. I'm bringing a tablet to download movies so I can watch them on the trip. We have an adapter that allows us to have multiple sets of headphones plugged into the device, and this will be great for my kids.
  • Snacks. Eating something familiar often reduces my anxiety. I will be getting some of my favorite snacks just before we board the plane.
  • Journaling. Writing is a great way for me to stay distracted and document my experiences. Later, I can share my journal with friends to show them how brave I was.
  • Aisle seat. As much as I would love to watch the ocean as we fly over it, having an aisle seat helps me to not feel so "trapped."
  • Medications. Bringing medications along requires some additional planning. I have done my research, and I know I have to declare my medications when checking in at the airport if they are in my carry-on bag. I also know that even though it is more convenient to put them in a pill dispenser, I have to keep my medications in their original prescription bottles for verification by airport security personnel.

Some challenges are more personal and require restraint and discernment. Fatigue is a challenge I face every day. The nice thing about a vacation is that I don't have to do anything I don't want to. I know I will have to push myself a little on the tough days, but I also know that I will be rewarded with times of relaxation. I have decided to only do one touristy thing a day. That way, if I need to just float in the pool or lay by the beach, I can. My kids are a little older, so they understand that mom needs breaks.

Sometimes, it's me who forgets to take the necessary breaks. I know that even on vacation, I can still overdo things. So, I'm giving myself permission to enjoy myself.

Are you traveling this summer? What do you do to get yourself prepared?


Comments (4) -

7:07 PM on Saturday, May 31, 2014

Go!  Have fun and enjoy.  Despite all kinds problems of a suppressed immune system and mobility issues, I have made it by myself overseas four times.  I ate carefully, rested often, stopped for a snack and rest every afternoon, and had a great time.  You will too, because you deserve good things to happen, and the great family memories will be important.

Edie Knapp
9:47 AM on Monday, June 02, 2014

I am also stressing our vacation too! I am 50yrs old with a 6yr old and wife of 24yrs. Having PIDD diagnosed 1 1/2 yrs ago has been a relief but also a knowledgeable encounter of what physical drawbacks I need to be planning on. My family has always counted on me to be the head organizer, packer, planner and of course keep up with the momentum of the daily itinerary.
My plan this summer vacation is to get my IVIG just prior to leaving, allow my husband to to take the helm and to not take my control freak habits along...

Vacations are particularly trying because so much is crammed into such a short period of time.  Even as a "healthy" person I was always glad to get home from vacation to relax!
This may not be the most encouraging comment but I'm glad to have read your concerns. It is another white elephant that I need to share with my husband now so it can be dealt with, I just know I'll get tired and sick. Then sick and tired of being sick...
My awareness of my health seems to be my best foot forward and to make cherished memories with sane expectations for us all.

Linda Thornrose
6:53 AM on Thursday, June 05, 2014

I am in the process of trying to plan our annual trip to CA to visit with family and do some site seeing.  Had to postpone twice now due to my being sick for nearly two months (I have CVID)including tons of antibiotics and six days in the hospital.  Now my husband is having some heart problems and undergoing some tests for that.  My elderly mother who lives with us is doing OK, thank God, except for progressive dementia, but she loves being on the go.  My husband really doesn't like the restriction to planning around my every 28 day IVIG, keeping our trips shorter than we would like now that he is retired.  I am going to discuss an idea my home health nurse gave me of getting my IVIG a week or two sooner to 'build up' my IG reserve, thus able to extend my travel by that time period...have any of you ever heard of that?  Living in FL so far from family makes it hard to squeeze all the visits and vacationing in.  We really want to visit some of the other national parks in the west.  How have any of you handled this circumstance?  Thanks for the ideas to help in the traveling process, Tammie.  Pretty tricky, but oh so worth getting to travel (which I love).  God bless all of you...and if you have any more ideas to share, please do.  Thank you.

1:08 PM on Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I have had my IVIG doubled up when I went on weekly trips. Go for it If you leave on Saturday try to have an appointment for Friday. If you come back on Sunday, have your treatment of Monday. It takes a little co-operation by your care givers but its worth doing. I have been to the national parks out west. That was a three week trip.  It got to be a little rough at the end but I am still here and kicking.  For that matter. I even went to Tahiti with my grand daughter. I now know why they sleep in the afternoon. It gets to be outrageously HOT.  

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