Traveling without a chronic illness is stressful enough... but when you are in pain 24/7, every vacation is a hike straight into the unknown. This weekend, my mom, sister, and I went to New York City. My mom had been here almost 30 years ago, but it was my first time in the city. This is definitely an experience that everyone should have! The buildings are so tall, the food is delicious, and the people are beautiful. However, traveling with endometriosis, looks a lot different than traveling as a healthy person.
On the plane from Michigan to New York, I had to worry about how I was going to sit in order to prevent back pain. The plane ride was only an hour, but I had to make sure that hour was not going to determine how my back felt for the rest of the evening. I had to make sure I was fully medicated before I got on the plane because there was no way I was going to easily get through security with a gigantic bag full of different medications.
Throughout our trip, I have had to change my situation to accommodate for endo. I had already let it take Disney away from me, I was not going to let this disease take away New York too. On the ferry to our Liberty Island and Ellis Island tour, I had to sit wherever there was room, and on the tour, I was sitting on the floor in the back of the group for most of the tour because I could not stand for that long. On the first night we got here, I went back to the hotel early and let the rest of the group shop for another hour because I needed to rest. I slept for 12 hours that night and still woke up exhausted.
My biggest worry about traveling, is ruining the experience for the other people. I didn't want to make them miss out on something because of my health. Every time we would go into a store, I would go in the corner and take a seat because having chronic pain forces you to do whatever is needed. In the Statue of Liberty, there were 200 stairs we had to walk up, and I didn't want to be a burden and slow everyone down by taking the elevator so I said I could walk up the stairs. Thank goodness my mother told me that I needed to use the elevator because I went up maybe 50 steps the entire day and my body paid for it. Thinking back, I would have been a bigger burden if I attempted to walk up the stairs because of how long it would have taken me.
Since endo is an autoimmune disease (not 100% proven yet, but does affect your health), I have had a sinus infection for 5 weeks on top of everything, so that adds another two medications to my already large bag. The pressure from the airplane made my ears "plugged," but since my sinuses are blocked, the pressure inside cannot regulate, so the entire weekend I have had "plugged" ears, which is just another miserable thing that I can blame on endo.
After taking my first real vacation since being diagnosed with endo, I realized just how hard it is to know what the next hour would bring. I reached out to the community of endo sufferers to see just how bad traveling can be with a chronic condition.
A woman named Cynthia had said something that really stuck out to me. After explaining that traveling usually causes her pain to get worse, she said, "I just suck it up to not ruin everyone else's holidays." How sad is it that this disease makes so many women not only hurt while traveling, but also causes them to worry so much about being a burden or ruining things for others? I mean, being in constant pain isn't enough?
Kaitlin, another fellow endo sufferer, said, "I haven't traveled... because of endo." Her fear of getting sick anywhere except her home has kept her from being able to travel. It is tragic that this disease has such a big influence on the fun we experience. This disease may not be terminal, but it takes your life away.
I decided to start a blog because my mental and physical conditions are constantly changing, and I want to help encourage people with similar experiences, and let them know they are not alone.