Going on a Trip with MS is Gonna Be a Real Trip!

I’m going out of town for six weeks! It just fell in my lap and changed my entire outlook. This might not seem like a big deal, but for me, it’s going to be life-changing! I swore I’d never travel again, and here I am planning for a trip that will last from January 20 to March 4 in 2021. I’m writing this at the end of August, so I have almost five months to prepare. I’ll need it, too. So, here’s how it started.

Invited to join my sister and brother-in-law

Two days ago, my sister and brother-in-law asked me to come visit. They enticed me with fish tacos, my favorite dish — not that I need enticing to visit, but I cannot turn down a fish taco and they know it, plain and simple. As I was smashing taco number three into my mouth, they blindsided me with an invitation to go with them to Alabama next winter. I did not see it coming.

I had no suspicions

In fact, I had no suspicions at all that they had an agenda, not even when my sister put a bowl of green olives stuffed with whole garlic in front of me for myself and no one else. She knows I love garlic olives. She often serves garlic olives when I visit, with no agenda whatsoever. This was different. Normally we share the bowl of garlic olives. But the fact that she gave me the entire bowl should have sent up a red flag. It did not. I am possibly the most clueless person in the family. Anyway, get this: When they asked me to go with them, they confessed to being afraid I had already figured out the whole caper beforehand and would reject the idea of joining them. I can understand why they thought that.

Fear of traveling due to my MS and IBS

For one thing, I told them I swore off air travel years ago and still do. The issue that pushed me over the edge was the risk of bowel incontinence. I have IBS with both diarrhea and constipation, so it is a daily feat to regulate what goes in and what comes out with as little discomfort as possible. I’ve only had bowel accidents in my apartment and that is mortifying enough. It made me afraid to leave home for any length of time. And although I have found techniques that greatly reduce the risk of bowel accidents, the thought of being away from home is still troubling.

How I plan to reduce the stress of travel

I can greatly reduce the stress and worry in the coming months by making lists of questions that need addressing as well as checklists of things I will need to bring. Here is a sampling.

Medications

I take ten prescription medications, some with a 90-day supply and some with a 30-day supply. My insurance refuses more than a 30-day supply of my DMT and the medication I take to improve walking. So I must ask them to waive that rule for my trip. If they won’t, I might be able to get the specialty mail-order pharmacy to ship them to my hotel.

Rent

For years, I had automatic withdrawal from my checking account — until the property management company messed it up. Since then, I’ve been writing out checks and putting them in the dropbox each month. I won’t be here to make the February and March payments, so I’ll ask my site manager about my options. I’m hoping I can use my PayPal account. There should be an easy solution. I pay all my other bills online already, so that won't change.

Work

Since I work exclusively online and I only have a desktop, today I purchased an inexpensive laptop for the trip. I only need internet access and a word processor, so I found an ASUS with WIN 10 and Microsoft 365 for only $268. Bonus is it counts as a tax deduction. Now I have plenty of time to prep it for the trip. I already have a flash drive so I can load and offload files.

A change of scenery and quality time with family

Other than that it should be a stress-free time. It’s not really a vacation, just a change of location to do what we normally do at home. No sight-seeing, no restaurants because of the lockdown. Just hanging around a beautiful condo with huge windows and balconies that face the Gulf. I’m very close to my sister and her husband. They are supportive and aware of how MS affects me. I’m really excited about this trip and so are they. My brother-in-law tearfully told me that we might not be able to do stuff like this much longer since we are in our sixties now, so we need to make memories while we still can. It’s the truth and I wept too when he said it.

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