Flying with DVTs and Other Health Issues

Traveling when you have health issues is an exercise in planning well and respecting your limitations. It took me a long time to accept that I really DO have these limitations, and nothing makes it more obvious than traveling solo.

Yes, I traveled solo this weekend to New York. The last time I'd been anywhere by myself was a couple of work trips in early 2005, and those still were within the state. Things with My Stupid Leg, the Bonus-Sized Brain and other issues had not yet occurred. I'd only flown two times post clots number 2 (and 3), so it isn't something that comes naturally.

However, there's very little out there from the traveler's perspective on flying with health issues, so I'm going to offer my thoughts.

First up: Note your issue, especially clotting disorders, upon making your reservation. The airlines are really good with DVT/Clot awareness, and will move you to an aisle seat to help facilitate your periodic walks up and down the aisle.

I recommend getting up and walking every thirty minutes or so. Tonight's flight was great, my first stroll netted a ten minute conversation with the flight attendants in the back of the plane. One asked about my clots, how I knew I had them and I told her how I seem to catch them early (stinging pain, hard lump, skin surface about 10 degrees warmer than surrounding area) and she said she'd never known that there were distinct signs. Look at the benefits of having more than one. (Ugh, I guess if there has to be a silver lining...)

If you have other mobility issues, like I have, call the airline's special services department and explain your need. Walking the terminal Friday, I kicked myself that I hadn't requested a wheelchair (I stopped multiple times to prevent overdoing it). I fixed that with the return flight and had a skycap take me from the airline check in directly to my gate, even through security.

It wasn't necessarily quicker through security, but not having to stand in that line for 15 minutes meant that I wasn't standing and exacerbating my pain issues. You still have to go through the whole process like normal, but it's nice to have a skycap help with the assistance you need.

Get there with plenty of time to spare. Having a special need means there is time needed to take care of your check in, etc. Don't arrive an hour before departure and expect things to go smoothly. Most airline staff are great about the processes for your need, BUT that doesn't mean everyone is familiar. If you take meds, make sure they're accessable in the event that you need them. I had mine there if I needed it. I didn't then, but I do now. Which brings me to the most important thing to remember-PACE YOURSELF! Don't pack your day with activities from beginning to end if it's going to put you in a bad way. Just relax, decide what is most important for your trip and focus on doing those things only.

In my case, it meant that I spent a ton of time with my adorable nephews. They are great entertainment-right from the comfort of my sister's couch! If I'd tried to see all the people I wanted, I would be miserable right now-not for visiting with them, but with the pain that ensues when I do too much. This trip was much better for the realization that I just can't run all over the place...


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