The weather's picked up, the BBQs are out and the ice-cream van is making its tuneful way up our road. This can only mean one thing: the holidays are hurtling towards us. As a general rule, breaks away are meant to be a relaxing experience. But when MS comes as part of the package deal, this isn't always the case. Caroline, who blogs at Mildly Scrambled, was diagnosed 14 years ago and has picked up a few holidaying tips along the way.
Where to go...
There's a whole world out there to explore and while MS should not diminish your wanderlust, it may well have some impact on where (and when) you go.
Temperature might be the first thing to consider, your symptoms may be better in the heat, or you might feel less fatigued in the cold. Choose a time and place that most suit you.
Alternatively, you could play the temperature lottery by holidaying in the UK – we do this and have occasionally hit the jackpot.
Destination decided, onto your accommodation. It may sound obvious, but make sure it suits your needs. Are you away from it all or are amenities close by? Lifts as well as stairs? Air conditioning or good heating? Disabled parking? Free stuff in the rooms? (Not strictly an MS issue, I just like little bottles of shampoo.)
Make sure you plan in any vaccinations and double check regulations about medications that can be brought in to a country.
Top tip: Don't dismiss the unexpected – after years of self-catering in small coastal villages, I never thought I'd love a large hotel at a big holiday park. But entertainment on tap delights our daughter and the treat of someone else cooking saves my energy. We're repeat visitors, so the familiarity is also a bonus for those inevitable cog fog days.
How to go...
Whether by train, plane or tandem, there are things to consider on the journey. How long will it take? Will the travel exhaust me? Have I built this additional fatigue into my break? Who is coming with me? Do I have support if I need it on the journey? If travelling alone, do I have ways of getting help if I need it? What do I need with me? Passport, meds, blanket, fan, phone, water?
If travelling by train, you can check with the operator what their arrangements are for supporting passengers with disabilities. National Rail has information about the accessibility of stations and how to get assistance during a journey.
If you're flying within Europe, passengers with disabilities are legally entitled to support. A similar situation applies in other countries including America, but this isn't the case everywhere in the world.
If you're embarking on a cycling or camping adventure, I have no useful suggestions, but simply take my hat off to you.
Top tip: make sure you know where the toilet stops are en route.
Before you go...
Gah. The endless admin of MS doubles when it comes to holidays.
I find it useful to write down the things I need to check before I go. This includes, but is not limited to: where is the local gp/health centre/hospital/dentist? Have I got enough meds to cover my break? Have I packed all the equipment/documentation/personal supplies I will need? Have I taken out holiday insurance? Exactly what insane volume of clothing will I have to pack to cover all my temperature issues? Why won't the cats get in their baskets for the cattery?
Top tip: write a checklist of things you need to and get someone to help with the packing.
Off you go...
...and have a really great time.
Top tip: We put up with a fair bit of this MS nonsense during the year, we deserve a break.
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