On Air Travel, After Steroids

So I am on vacation! Yep, vacation. Though many people would laugh at that since I’m generally just doing a lot of the same activities like sitting on a couch, taking my medication, watching TV, and living on the computer, I consider being on a different coast and in a different time zone “vacation”. More importantly, I’m spending time doing nothing in the company of some of my very favorite people in the world. Pretty great I must say.

In light of my new location and travel experience, after a week of bad MRIs and Steroid infusions, I thought I’d share some random travel advice (aka things I will write in the hopes that I will take my own advice) with you all. I’m pretty jet lagged and it makes me even more incoherent than before (but not less rambling sorry!) so I will present these to you in annotated list form.

*Going through security will make you friends and enemies.

So I’m a bit of a technology whore. I go to many lengths to refurbish, resell, etc in order to have a laptop and an Ipad. There are lots of reasons for this that I’ll save for another post and believe me these items are worse for wear.  Anyway, I also travel with injectables, a cpap machine, and the giant bag of meds I must have on me at all times. Fine right? Well since I’m carrying all this stuff and I lose m balance a lot, I brought a cane with me to assist in the standing process. With all these things on me, having to take off shoes and sweaters and all, going through security is a bitch. Sometimes you find others that, despite the complete difference of the situation, happily relate to you. In front of me in line was a very nice couple with a small child. They had laptops, bottles, strollers, diapers, and a million other carry-ons. They stumbled their way up to the scanner belt balancing a baby while unloading all their crap. The kindly offered to let me go ahead of them because of “all their stuff” at which point I laughed and said ‘please, I completely understand. I’ll take as long if not longer so please don’t worry’. It’s always nice to feel like you’re in the same boat when the boat is something established by a normal incident like traveling with a child. So, great right? Well, the man behind me was a whole different story. The anger and huffing that flew from this man’s face and mouth were pretty intimidating. Clearly, he had better places to be than standing behind me (and the couple with the kid). He scoffed at their attempts to unload and when he looked at me behind them he just groaned and rolled his eyes. His unhappiness was growing and, being the closest to him, I was getting the worst of his anger. The man behind him was starting to get on the huffing man boat as well so I knew this was going to get uncomfortable. Long story short (or not so short since I continue to give you this insane amount of detail) the man behind me looked at the cane and me and said, “ isn’t there a line you can go through with that so that I don’t have to wait behind you?”  I smiled and said no sorry but inside I was wondering if TSA would take me away for punching him in the face. I tried to ignore him while I took off my shoes all the looking at this man’s scowl. In some ways, I could understand his frustration. I’ve been in a hurry, I’ve been annoyed by not being able to push ahead, and really how could I expect him to understand? So the more he scowled and the longer I took the more I wanted to half apologize and half tell him to suck it. Hah. So instead of doing either I continued to put my stuff on the conveyor belt and looked at him and said: “I know this is annoying but please keep in mind, you’ll go through security and move on but I have to live like this every day”. His face softened a bit, so maybe I made him think.

Oh and in case you were wondering, I had to go through the damn porn scanner for the first time. If I show up in a TSA based x-ray vision porn I’m going to be MAD.

*Spasticity + Long Flights = Ow.

Yeah, not surprising. While I used to spend days driving from city to city on no sleep, take long flights focusing only on my common fear of flying issues, the flight here really kicked my ass. Seats are smaller than they used to be and sitting in cramped quarters for 6 hours really makes that neck and back pain kick in. Though I didn’t take much, I fear even the highest dose of Baclofen written on *my* bottle didn’t help me much. I sort of figured it would be painful considering my latest serious symptoms but this was pretty intense. Thoughts for next time? Ask doc if I can take more baclofen, spray myself down with Icy hot even if it will annoy my seatmates, and bring some sort of back pillow. The steroids had helped so much but I kind of feel like I’m back a few weeks ago when my leg would give out and I felt like I was kicked repeatedly from the waist up.

*Turbulence + Frequent need to pee = oops

It was pointed out to me that I use the bathroom a lot. Guess I didn’t notice before then because when I’m home alone I don’t keep a log. heh. Maybe I should. In any case, walking up and down the aisle and waiting in line with a small child jumping up and down and on you while you stand is no good. If you don’t fall over then just wait till you’re trying to pee in an airplane bathroom for the 8th time and it hits an air pocket. Even the healthiest person would have trouble not peeing on themselves heh.

*Post-steroid hunger on flights is expensive

Like the flight attendant told the man in the row in front of me, nothing is free on planes anymore. Seriously. Cheese plate? 10 dollars. Sandwich? 10 dollars. Cookies? 10 dollars. Flying after a 3-day steroid infusion is hard. Watching people in front of you eat cheese and cookies do nothing to quell the hunger that you’ve been fighting every minute of the day since it began. So remember to bring your own snacks. They’ll be healthier and you won’t end up spending 30 bucks you don’t have for something mostly stale and worth all of 5 dollars worth of food stamps. Oh, and they don’t take food stamps (since I know you were wondering)

*BYO Entertainment

Seriously. Don’t forget this. It’s not like you can sleep hopped up on steroids and in those uncomfortable airplane seats. You’ll probably end up sitting next to some strange man that’ll fall asleep and start falling onto your shoulder within 30 minutes of the flight like me and then to be forced to watch Monte Carlo starring Selena Gomez? It’s enough to send a healthy person into a tailspin.

So that’s it for my basic advice for air travel after a steroid infusion. Obviously, there are a few key things to include here that I haven’t mentioned. Request a bulkhead seat. Don’t be afraid to tell them you need more room (This part is mostly me yelling at myself heh). I have a problem with that and didn’t do it this time. I got to tell you, nothing puts a damper on vacation fun like knees that are stiff and painful, an extra cramping back, and a neck that’s like a steal rod. You’ll lose at least a day (yeah, I slept all day yesterday… ).