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Traveling With Emotional Stress And Pain


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#1 annkd

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Posted 11 February 2007 - 08:21 AM

I've got a situation that is really worrying me. My Father is in the hospital (serious health issues) and my Mother, due to Alzheimers is being moved to a new facility for round the clock care because my Father will most likely be in a rehab facility for the next 3 - 4 weeks. I live in California and they live in Rochester, NY. SNOW COUNTRY.I have scleroderma (myositis, fibro, osteo, raynaud's, etc) and my symtoms have been pretty bad this winter and I've been very limited in my activities. I have to fly back to Rochester on Saturday - Tuesday to help with their care because my brothers need my help. I, of course, need to see them. I have felt so helpless during this difficult time. I am worried about how I'm going to deal with my health issues as well. The flight goes through Chicago and then on to Rochester. I've done this trip many times and it's not easy. Getting a wheelchair is not easy either. By the time one arrives at the gate, I've almost missed my flight several times. Talk about stress. I've had to get out of the wheelchair and run to make my flights. The cold is a huge problem. I'm wrapped up like I'm from Siberia but it doesn't do that much when you're tired and stressed. Has anyone had to deal with this , and if so, do you have any pointers for me. I guess I'm scared and pretty emotional right now. Thanks. - Ann

#2 Heidi

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Posted 11 February 2007 - 08:38 AM

Hi Ann,

Wow! I am so sorry to hear that you are having all of this stress with your parents and are now facing this very stressful trip. Is there anyone who could take the trip with you? I think it would help a lot just to have someone else with you to help deal with getting a wheelchair and getting to your gate on time. Another thing I thought about was maybe getting some of those hot pads (the one's te advertise for pain....you can just stick them on your clothes to warm up specific areas of your body....I use them alot across my shoulders) and putting them on during the flight...it may help keep you warm. Finally, one of the things I do to help reduce stress is to imagine the worse case scenario (e.g., missing the connecting flight) and being o.k. with it (e.g., telling myself it wouldn't be the end of the world, I could eventually get another flight and it would all work out just fine). By doing this, I don't worry about the negative thing that MIGHT happen, because I have already decided how I would handle it.

Please try not to worry too much about what MIGHT happen as the stress from the worrying is likely to make you feel worse before you even leave to go on your trip.

Warm wishes,
Heidi

#3 barefut

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Posted 11 February 2007 - 09:10 AM

I always do the worst case scenario thing like Heidi suggested. It is amazingly very helpful.

Can the airline have a wheelchair waiting on you so you don't have to wait on the wheel chair? Or what about the courtesy cart rides. Arrange for one of those and be whisked away like royalty.

Also, I always spend 2 days making lists and packing so I'm SURE to not forget anything and I make sure I have only the bare essentials for carry on so I don't have to lug too much. Take what you do have to lug on wheels.

The heat patches are also a GREAT idea.

Good luck and like Heidi said, try not to stress too much.

Barefut

#4 emmie

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Posted 11 February 2007 - 06:46 PM

Ann,

I may sound really heartless, but I know I couldn't make this trip unless I had someone who could travel with me or meet me at O'Hare. Your health isn't good to begin with, the stress of knowing your parent's situation is already weighing on you, add the preparation for the trip, the stress you are already experiencing just anticipating the trip and you are going to be worthless by the time you get there. By the time you get home, you are going to be sick, sick, sick.

Could one of your brothers meet you at O'Hare? I know O'Hare and it is huge and not easy to navigate especially when you move like a turtle (I do anyway). Maybe knowing someone was there waiting to help facilitate the connection would ease your mind.

I really feel for you with this situation. Let us know what you figure out and all the best to your folks and family with the situation.

xoxo emmie

#5 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 06:47 AM

Hi Ann,

If you are going to manage the trip at all, I'd recommend doing absolutely everything in your power to promote relaxation, every moment. Pack some nourishing foods in your carry-on (fresh vegetables, grapes, nuts, dried fruits, nutritional food bars, whatever) so you aren't stressed from hunger or junk food during flights or layovers. Drink lots of water to stay well-hydrated.

Dress in layers for the Raynaud's, with one more layer than usual since it is usually colder in airports and airplanes. I use one carry-on for a foot rest (since I'm short, and it alleviates back aches). Do not have drinks with ice or cold pop cans (again, Raynaud's). Do try to get hot tea, it is relaxing. And warm! Take extra meds along. You'll probably need them.

I'm also a big fan of the worst-possible scenario. Once you figure out how you'll deal with the absolute worst outcome, it is amazing how you can face other disasters with aplomb. After all, what is an extended layover or rough weather, next to an obliterating plane crash? Granted, that idea gets some people in an even worse tizzy, but for me it really quells any nervousness and helps me take things in stride.

Try to picture yourself as being in the eye of the storm, where it is nice and peaceful, rather than on the erratic fringes. Let the storm go on around you but not in you. Tell yourself you will sleep like a baby. Have an absorbing book with you, even some puzzles.

Do deep breathing and relaxation exercises at every opportunity. There is no such thing as a "terrible wait" if you have absorbing things to do in the meantime. Imagine that you are flying to Tahiti (or wherever) rather than into cold territory.

I live in Minnesota. The secret to handling cold weather is to not handle it. Keep the thermostats cranked, wear warm clothes all the time, seek warm food and drink.

In other words, plan like all get out for making it as easy on yourself as possible. Also plan for the fact that you will probably be "boots up" for at least awhile either during or after the trip...and make that time as pleasant for yourself as possible too. Such as, good movie, good book, even hobby or craft to work on.

Ah, and mercilessly pace yourself even when you are there. Establish your boundaries! Tell your brothers you can handle, for example, 2 hours of in-person activity a day, that you will need to rest until noon and have the evenings free. Ask them what would be the very best use of your time. Save yourself for the most important things. Bypass all the unimportant things, or things that other people can handle.

Whatever you do, don't march in there trying to pretend you are your old, healthy self. Nobody can take care of you, except you.

And if I were you, if it was in the least bit possible, I think I'd postpone the trip altogether until dad was out of rehab (when I could see him more, and when he'd appreciate the extra help around the house) than right now, when your brothers are there to help, as well as the hospital staff.

The weather would be nicer in a few months, and you could be there when everyone else seems to be evaporating, to help make that transition time easier. It's a thought, but if you are already set on going, GO -- and make the very best of it you possibly can!

I nearly forgot -- earplugs and eyepads to keep out the extra noise and lights encountered during trips.
Warm Hugs,

Shelley Ensz
Founder and President
International Scleroderma Network (ISN)
Hotline and Donations: 1-800-564-7099

The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is sclero.org.

#6 Sweet

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 07:03 AM

Hi Ann,

Great big hug to you! You've received some great advice and tips. Just pace yourself. My motto is always "Pace not Race." Shelley's tips on having healthy nutrition and water at hand is a great one too.

Please keep us posted as you can.
Warm and gentle hugs,

Pamela
ISN Support Specialist
International Scleroderma Network (ISN)

#7 annkd

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 10:09 AM

To Shelly, Sweet and all the rest of this wonderful, encouraging and supportive group - thank you so very much for incredibly amazing ideas, words of comfort and advice. Shelley, I would love to wait, but my Dad has been having some heart problems and I think it's for the best that I get there as soon as possible. The cardiologist has told me that he is stable and I know he is in great care. I will know my travel arrangements by tomorrow (tuesday). I'm trying to get relatively decent flying times. I think I will print out these wonderful messages and take them with me as a reminder of the support that is with me. Thank you again. You're an amazing bunch!! - Hugs - Ann

#8 debonair susie

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 01:49 PM

Hi Anne,
I feel so bad for you... not only the stress of your own health, but in dealing with all that is coming up for you.I don't have any helpful suggestions, only for you to take the best care of yourself that you possibly can.
I'll be keeping you in my thoughts.
Hugs, Susie
Special Hugs,

Susie Kraft
ISN Support Specialist
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International Scleroderma Network (ISN)

#9 barefut

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Posted 16 February 2007 - 12:48 PM

Anne,

Just thinking of you since seeing coverage of the Valentine's Day snow storm that hit NY as well as Chicago.

How are you doing? Are you able to get there at all now? Sure hope you're not caught up in all that mess!

Keep us posted,
Barefut.