Living with chronic illness
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Living with chronic illness – Holiday

Back from holiday

Yesterday I returned from a 10 day holiday in Poland.

Holidays can be difficult if you have a chronic illness. They need a little more planning, and recovery time during, and after, the trip. Since my last holiday, my walking has become much slower. Before going on this trip I was anxious about a few things. They were, first my mobility. Would I be able to walk around the cities that we were visiting? The second issue was fatigue. I am constantly tired, and activity makes this worse, so I was apprehensive about the effect that it would have on what I could do. The third issue was accessibility, of services and of toilet facilities.

Gdansk at Night

Gdańsk at Night

I have learned to prepare better for a trip than I did when I was much healthier. When I was abler I would wing it. Taking a chance on things, and rolling with the consequences. I enjoy the surprises that this brings, and sometimes the stories are worth the discomfort. This holiday I was not taking too many chances. So what did I do to avoid unpleasant experiences?

Airports

Flight times cannot be adjusted, but the airport experience can, and so I booked wheelchair assistance at the airport. This was the first time that I have done this and didn’t know what to expect. This was the element of chance. Dublin Airport was fantastic. The care and attention that they took were more than I expected. They listened to what I needed, and let me decide what services I needed, or didn’t. When arriving in Poznan, Poland there was nothing provided to help me there, which was surprising to me, as I had informed the airline that I needed help.

Gdańsk Airport started badly, as I was quizzed by the personnel about if I actually needed assistance. Apparently, this was a new staff member. I was helped through check-in, security, and to the airplane, but the car and attention were less than in Dublin. They made decisions at the check-in desk about my seating on the place without asking if I wanted this. As a result, I was placed in a seat with less legroom than I booked, and the flight was much less comfortable than it should have been. Their intent was good, but not what I needed. A lesson for the next trip.

Doing too much

The first two days of the holiday I pushed my self too much, and totally collapsed on the third day. It was just too much. This was my fault, but as we had booked an apartment I could just lie on the couch all day, and snooze. Giving myself a chance to recover. staying in an apartment is so much better than a hotel. I could wake when I wanted, and have my meals when they suited me. Also, the toilet was handy, and I didn’t have to panic about this.

Restaurants and shops don’t always have accessible toilets. Especially in older buildings. Toilets that can only be accessed by narrow winding stairs are a problem, and fortunately, we ate in one such eating establishment. We kept our movements around the towns we visited close to accessible toilets, so that worked out very well.

Surprises

The biggest surprise of the trip was Uber. The accessibility of this service was amazing. I could summon an Uber from my phone app, and it would arrive in a matter of minutes, and we could be whisked to our next destination. The cost was very reasonable ranging from PLN 10 – PLN 41.12 (€2.40 – €9.86, $2.94 -$12.09). In fact, I am in danger of becoming an Uber addict. This allowed us to visit places much easier, and also if we needed to get back to our apartment, we could, quickly. Fantastic service.

For some reason, the Polish people don’t like lifts (elevators for my North American readers), and I had to climb too many stairs. Next time we will be more careful checking this. We thought the first floor meant only one flight of stairs. Apparently, we were wrong. This meant that I took the stairs much slower than my partner, and had to stop and rest on the way up. The exercise was good, and it makes sure that my bad leg doesn’t wither away from lack of use. There always is an upside.

Recovery

Now that we are back, I will take 2 days break to recover from the long trip from Dublin to Clifden. That is the worst part of the trip, especially in winter. These new LED headlights are hell. They may be good for drivers, but for the driver on the receiving end, especially with a chronic headache, a total nightmare. My driving glasses help, but they are not bulletproof either.

Mariacka Street, Gdansk

Mariacka Street, Gdańsk

It was a great holiday, and I really loved Gdańsk. A magical city in the snow, full of mystery and surprise. Its history is impressive and it is the birthplace of Solidarity that led the change in Poland from one political system to another, peacefully. This visit to an old historic city was worth any discomfort that I experienced. Travelling with a chronic condition has its own reality, it is always bittersweet. I choose to concentrate on the sweet.

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