The holiday season is fast approaching. Traveling when able-bodied has its fair share of challenges but, if you suffer from complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), it can seem like a passport to problems.
The Government recently announced new proposals for disabled flyers but the implications of these will not be known until early 2019. So, in this blog, we offer some useful tips on how to make traveling with CRPS less daunting now. Read on to find out more.
You might be planning on taking a holiday but unfortunately, CRPS will not be taking a break from you.
The likelihood is, you will be in pain but, if you prepare and plan well in advance, the trip you are looking forward to should not turn into one you end up regretting.
First and foremost, ensure you pack your pain relief medication. If you are traveling abroad, you should not encounter any problems if you approach this in the right way.
Some medicines such as Tramadol, Morphine, and Oxycodone are referred to as controlled drugs and subject to stricter controls to prevent potential misuse.
For all prescription medication, but particularly for controlled drugs, ask your GP for a letter outlining why you need the medication, the daily dosage, and the amount you need to travel with. Keep this close to hand for inspection by sea or airport staff and officials and make sure it includes your full name – as it appears on your passport – address, date of birth, and dates of travel.
Check the requirements and regulations of the destination you are traveling to in case there are any restrictions. You can usually do this on the country’s Embassy website, which tends to be very informative and helpful.
Keep your medication in your hand luggage but, if it is in fluid form, check with the airline or provider you are traveling with about whether 100ml restrictions apply and, if necessary, ask your pharmacist to dispense accordingly.
Inform your air or cruise line well in advance of your condition and any assistance you may require. Read the special requirements page on your travel provider’s website for more information about procedures.
You should be able to ask for and receive assistance from when you arrive at the airport through customs and security to your boarding gate. Once on board, you should expect help stowing cabin luggage in the overhead locker.
At your destination, you should be assisted off the plane, to the point where you leave the airport, including retrieving your luggage and any mobility equipment you may have. However, it is advisable never to presume this will happen but to double-check with the individual provider you have chosen to travel with.
Be aware – cabin pressure on an aircraft can exacerbate CRPS. Not everyone is affected and some only mildly, but others experience a significant increase in pain and swelling during a flight.
It may be helpful to carry an inflatable pillow to ease discomfort and perhaps a lightweight blanket or shawl, as planes are notoriously chilly.
Whatever mode of transport you are using on your journey, factor in time to take comfort breaks and to stretch your legs. If sitting for a long period of time, try to extend your arms, legs, and neck, and wriggle your ankles and wrists on a regular basis to encourage blood circulation.
Rest as often as you can. Even a five-minute cat nap can do wonders for positive mental health and well-being and stop you from becoming anxious about the travel time remaining.
The raft of new measures proposed by the Government will dramatically improve travel for the less-able bodied if given the go-ahead. They include limiting the time passengers must wait for help with boarding and disembarking and ensuring they get their own wheelchairs back quickly by creating priority storage for wheelchairs.
Ministers are also looking at whether airlines should be made to remove seats to allow wheelchairs in the cabin – a measure long campaigned for.
Having CRPS and having a great holiday are not mutually exclusive. Managing your trip as well as your condition will hopefully leave you with a sense of well-being as well as many happy memories.
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