Travel Precautions When You Have Multiple Sclerosis

  • You’re a multiple sclerosis “gimp” -

    - someone whose legs get heavy as cement blocks

    - someone whose legs are as slow and stiff as mollassas in winter
    - someone with a dangerous “toe pick” capable of tripping even the most respectable hockey player who puts on figure skates


    You’re a multiple sclerosis “tinkler” -

    - someone who knows where all the bathrooms are located in various shopping venues
    - someone who knows to listen to that little voice which says, “if you’ve even just thought about the possible need for a restroom, get yourself to the nearest restroom pronto”

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    - someone who is known to visit the restroom only 10 minutes after having visited one previously


    You’re a blogging “expert” -

    - someone who is speaking at a conference
    - someone who is traveling by airplane and sitting in the very back row
    - someone who is amazed at how many people avoid the $17 fee for checking luggage


    You’re a “think ahead” kind of gal -

    - someone who packs light in one bag with computer, change of clothes, and toiletries
    - someone who packs a fold-up cane, just in case
    - someone who gets food when it’s available and uses the time to regain feeling in the legs to also eat a few bites


    All of the above applies to a trip I took last week.  I traveled to Orlando to speak at a communications conference about blogging and online patient communities.  It was pretty cool.  The event itself was great and my presentation was well-received.

    However, I learned a few things at the airport -

    - Since I had a car waiting for me personally, I didn’t fret too much about the slowness of my progress through the plane, terminal, bathroom, shuttle to the main terminal, food court, wait for legs to come back, bathroom, more terminal, and finally baggage area.
    - Since the luggage carrousel emptied quickly and I was not present, the driver paged me.  But I have serious difficulties with loud environments, so I never heard the page and the driver left.
    - Since I found no driver, I called the number provided me at 5:55pm only to get the answering machine.  My flight was scheduled to arrive at 5:15pm.  The driver said he waited until 6:10, but I never saw him or the little sign with my name on it.  Eventually, my calls were successful and he returned to take me to the hotel.


    Things I learned -

    - Use the cane even if you are feeling good.  The extra support will pay off later, I promise.
    - Inform those who make your travel arrangements, that you are mobility-impaired so that you’re not expected to be a quick as “regular” folks.
    - Traveling alone and depending upon others to take care of you can be exhausting.


    Lisa Emrich is author of the blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers.

Published On: October 28, 2008