Today I am gonna talk to you about how I handle/prepare for being flared up abroad. Being disabled has caused me to become a super planner. I make sure I am always prepared for different situations. It makes me feel in control a little. It is probably something I need to work on a bit LOL. BUT… it has definitely helped me not self-destruct at the first sight of trouble. My conditions are very volatile. I just never know what I will feel like the next hour, let alone next day.
Which brings me to the topic of flare ups. They are the biggest of baddest b*tches and they ready to take you the F OUT. For me, I used to kind of know when a flare up was coming. It would be after overdoing it and pushing my body way too much. However, I have found during these many lockdowns, more often than not it has popped up on me unexpectedly.
Flare ups are when your condition/s has “flared up” haha, it’s gotten worse than what it typically is on a day-to-day basis. This is something that I really struggle to explain despite experiencing them throughout the majority of my life. So, I have spoken to the lovely Jameisha (@youlookokaytome) and asked her to collab with me and provide a more nuanced explanation of what a flare up is. They have a great Instagram page which where they provide information on everything Chronic Illness. So, check out @youlookokaytome on Instagram to find more information on Chronic Illness and flare ups.
Experiences of Flare Ups
A flare leaves me feeling so helpless, in a sh*t tonne of pain and extremely fatigued. So, I spend most of the day in bed trying not to cry and attempt to sleep the day away. I find it so hard to function whilst my condition/s has flared on a typical day at home. So being in a completely different environment is bound to be difficult. Flare ups are so unpredictable.
The last week of Feb my condition had flared, so I thought this would be the perfect blog topic.
I sleep with my work laptop at my bedside. I never know how my body will be the next morning. It’s really good I do this because it meant I was able to wake up and turn on my laptop with minimal movement. I started at 8am. It wasn’t until around 11am that I left my bed, I had left the laptop charger in a different room. I was cursing myself, I was in agony and it took so much effort just to get out of bed.
Flared and Travelling
I think it is a really difficult to prepare for something that is so unpredictable and unexpected, especially whilst travelling. But saying this, I have found that it is definitely not impossible. At the very minimum you can make sure that you plan things to make your life easier if your condition/s has flared up abroad and to make sure that you can still enjoy yourself.
Experiencing flares abroad is a right pain. You never know how long it will last and you don’t want to be in additional pain when you have scheduled in fun. Long haul flights (8-9 hrs), make me a little worse for wear. Although I am really excited to be away from cold England, I always try to take it easy the first day abroad. Pushing myself possibly make me worse.
I went to Morocco for a few weeks in 2018, it was a great holiday, but it wasn’t the best accessibility wise. This meant that I had to push myself way beyond my limits and this ended badly. I was in TEARS, literally, I think this was really when my friend noticed rah okay maybe we need to dial this all the way back. I was in so much pain, it was such a struggle to move and I had to be on my max medication for that day.
The next day, I was so worried about being a burden for being in pain. But I really couldn’t push any further and stayed on the sofa all day. I feel like I was so much better the next day just because I had rested rather than trying to fight my flare, so now I always rest as much as I can on the first day.
Mobility & Ableism
When I first started needing mobility aids, I was around like 9 years old. It was a small NHS manual wheelchair with smiley faces on the wheels. My internalised ableism was so overwhelming. It was something that I have had to work on so hard and still battle with at times unfortunately. It was so bad that none of my secondary school friends really knew about my disability, until I was in year 9/10. But I have learnt to say f*ck what anyone thinks, their looks and questions. They can mind their business.
I learnt to not be stubborn. Accept my disability and understand that my wheelchair is such a God send, it has helped me achieve so much! It is definitely a journey. But don’t let any ableism spoil your chances at a good life using supportive equipment that will ease your pain and discomfort!
Disabled People Travelling
Being disabled is ridiculously expensive; you face so much inaccessibility. So, you have to spend an arm and a leg just to meet some of your access requirements.
Public transport is so difficult as a wheelchair user, you find that some train stations are not accessible or that they do not have someone that can put you on a train and contact your arrival station. The worst is getting to your arrival station and no one is there to take you off the train, this has happened quite a few times, it is a nightmare. You never know how long you will be stuck on a train for.
Then bus drivers, *kisses teeth*, they just drive past you at times or ignore when you have pressed the bell. Due to all of this getting an accessible taxi is the best option most times, but this is very pricy. Imagine I experience all of this in a country I know and that is supposed to be accessible. So, travelling abroad, I am damn sure going do anything to make sure I am not facing any of these problems!
To Solo Travel or Not To Solo Travel
For me I am not too pressed about solo travelling. If I do plan to solo travel it is because I will be spending my time in an amazing all-inclusive hotel. Or I already know the country/ meeting people that know the country (so basically not solo travelling haha). So, travelling with a friend or family member that understands me, the unpredictability of my condition/s and won’t be a dick if I ask for a hand or need to rest is my most preferred option. Yeah, it will be ideal if I could just have a carer to travel with just in case but I, unfortunately, am not made out of money. I cannot be funding my trip as well as someone else’s, plus on top of that pay them for their hours. That is MAD!
One thing my mum has really instilled in me is do not be too budget (well she is all about luxury, so she probably says go all out but let’s paraphrfase lol) on accommodation. Because if worse comes to worse at least you can occupy your time with the incredible hotel facilities and room service. When we go to Barbados, we stay in a hotel rather than with family. The first time we went together, the hotel manager was lovely and took off the service bill because most days we couldn’t make it down for dinner.
Flared Abroad Tips, How to prepare:
- Go away with someone that understands your condition/s
- Saying this I am not trying to discourage disabled people from solo travelling. It is not impossible to go away solo and enjoy yourself and handle a flare up, it just means that if you do tip 2 is essential (in my opinion).
- Make sure your accommodation is fully accessible and you can easily access food and drinks. Whether it be deliveries or room service.
- Use mobility aids
- Rest during your flare up. Allow yourself to be sad but also try and do something that makes you happy but isn’t too strenuous. At a minimum please rest on the first day of your flare. Don’t overdo it as it will just make things worse, which means you are less likely to enjoy your holiday. If you can’t rest, reducing your daily activities may help a little.
- Painkillers and cold/heat packs
- If you can book an extra day
- ASK FOR HELP
Thank you so much for reading. Comment below and let me know your thoughts on this blog.
If you are disabled, I also wanna know how you handle your flare ups whilst you are travelling!
Travel smart. Travel safe. Tchau 💛