A reader brought to my attention that some chronic pain patients must fly whether they want to or not, whether they feel well enough to or not, whether it’s going to hurt like hell or not.
A dozen hours in a coach seat on a commercial jetliner can half-cripple a perfectly healthy person. So how do I, as someone with chronic pelvic and back pain, minimize the pain and trauma of being squashed into The Position?
It turns out that the answers to this question are many and varied. So here is the first of a series of Minimizing Pain on the Plane posts. Reader comments and suggestions welcome!
Before You Go to the Airport
I pack often enough that I can do it 15 minutes before I hit the door, but I don’t recommend this for occasional travelers! It’s less stressful to start packing early. I used to make lists, then check things off as I packed them. It was a good system before packing became second nature.
I strongly recommend packing a bag to check, and the lightest carry-on possible. Of course medications and prescription and doctor info must go in the carry-on. But clothes, toiletries, shoes, extra books…let the baggage handlers carry these things. Yes, to check a bag is to take a risk that it will be lost. For me, it’s worth that risk to literally lighten my load. YMMV.
The “what to pack” subject could fill a blog post or three all by itself. I’ll hit that after I finish this series
Soothe your muscles as much as possible. I try to take a long hot bath or shower, and give myself a mini-facial and body scrub with my at-home spa products. I get a massage if I can afford to, or ask a friend for a shoulder rub. I might also ice or heating pad my tenderest points.
Whatever time it is, I eat a full meal including protein an hour or so before I leave. Because it brings me pleasure, I indulge in a few bites of dessert too. Then I pack my easy-to-eat meal for the plane–again, making sure there’s protein involved.
I put on my most comfortable clothes (yay yoga pants!), planning for an air-conditioned terminal and an air-conditioned plane. I get cold easily, and cold sets off my pain. I also try to keep my destination in mind–layers I can peel off if I’m headed someplace warm. Tomorrow I’ll be sporting a coat and warm socks since I’m headed for Seattle.
Part 2: In the terminal…