Holiday Travel Fears

I am considering accepting an invitation to my family's reunion in rural Oregon, but I am feeling scared about certain aspects of the trip. It has been 7 years since our last gathering, so it would be nice to attend, but there are some concerns related to my mobility scooter and living arrangements. These concerns may resonate with others living with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Managing Holiday Travel with Multiple Sclerosis

In terms of travel, I will need to fly and take a bus to get to Oregon. Once there, I will need to rely on other people's cars to get to the farm and attend events. Unfortunately, my scooter won't be allowed on the small planes, so it will need to be transported in the cargo area. I cannot find a way to inform the airline about my wheelchair during the online booking process, and customer service phone numbers provided only direct me to government disability hotlines. I'm unsure if I should just arrive at the airport early and hope it all works out. Additionally, some cars, like SUVs, give me trouble when getting in and out, so I need to check what my family members will be driving. On a positive note, I have confirmed that the buses I will be using are accessible.

In terms of living arrangements, my sister-in-law Jane has kindly invited my wife and me to stay at the farmhouse. Although I have been there before, it was before I became dependent on my scooter. While the entrance is accessible, I am unsure about the bathrooms and doorways. I am also concerned about potentially damaging her doorways with the scooter's armrests. Another concern is how difficult it will be to transfer from the scooter to a bed or couch when I need to rest my back. I realize I need to ask Jane more specific questions about these issues.

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I am also worried about imposing on Jane and her family. The reunion is for my nephew's 40th birthday and is expected to last around 5 days. I feel uncomfortable disarranging Jane's house for that long, and staying at a hotel is not feasible due to the distance. Although Jane assures me it's not a problem, maybe we won't stay for the entire 5 days.

Considering the weather, it is highly likely that there will be heavy snowfall, as that is common in the area where Jane lives. Unfortunately, my scooter cannot move through the snow, potentially trapping me indoors for most of the time.

I also wonder how we should compensate Jane for her hospitality. While she insists it's not necessary, I feel it would be appropriate to give her a gift and try to help out in some way. Financially, she is already saving us a significant amount of money by allowing us to stay at her farmhouse.

Regarding necessary equipment, as a person with disabilities, I am used to having certain supplies and modifications. For this trip, I need to ensure I have my urinary catheters, lube, and alcohol. Additionally, I will need to bring chargers for my scooter and phone. It might be necessary to ship some items in advance. Unfortunately, my exercise equipment will have to stay at home, but I can manage without it for a few days.

I anticipate spending most of the time visiting with relatives at the reunion, but I know from experience that I cannot handle being in a party setting all day long, especially with relatives who talk a lot. I need some downtime and time to myself. Unfortunately, I won't be able to bring my computer, so I will rely on my phone's notepad app and bring something to read.

When it comes to food, fortunately, I am not too picky and can eat most things despite having MS. The only exception is sugars, which I find can cause me to feel lethargic and increase the risk of urinary tract infections. However, people with conditions like diabetes must be more cautious, and the abundance of sweets during the holidays can be a challenge. Although I may not have the same food as I'm accustomed to, my wife will likely go with the family to shop and my nephew and nieces enjoy cooking, so I am confident I will have good meals.

Lastly, one concern that might not be shared by many is my discomfort with the carbon emissions associated with travel. I realize it may not make much sense when everyone else is traveling as well, but it still bothers me.

Writing this article has made me feel more confident about attending the reunion. I believe that nothing will arise that I cannot handle. I have decided that this reunion will not be an ordeal, and I am looking forward to having a good time. I'll keep you updated on how it goes. I also wish you all a wonderful holiday season! If you would like to connect with other people living with multiple sclerosis, feel free to join our MS Facebook Support Group.