A man pushes a woman with a hijab in a wheelchair in the airport

Traveling Has Changed Over the Years

I grew up in a tiny town in southwest Tennessee with a population of roughly 300 people. I am related to most of those people. I only went to 2 schools my whole life (before college). One was K-8, and the other was 9-12. To say we were sheltered is an understatement, but no fault of that was my parents. We just all lived and spent most of our time in the same area as most in that area tend to do.

Road trips

But for me, I am a lover of traveling. I love the ocean. I don't mind big cities. If I could, I would spend all my time on the road. Living with IBS-D makes traveling hard, though. I prefer to drive only because it's much easier when we are in a car versus train, bus, or airplane if I have to stop. Let's face it, no one likes to use public restrooms, but we can probably all agree we HATE using public transportation restrooms.

Living in Illinois for most of the last 10 years, I can't begin to count the many road trips we have made to Tennessee. At the beginning of my relationship, it was hard for my fiancé to understand what was going on with my body, as I had no idea at that time. It made things awkward and uncomfortable, to say the least, having to stop often when the goal is to just get from one place to another.

IBS and other conditions

Mike is my rock, though. Over the years, as he has seen me get diagnosis after diagnosis, he knows what I am going through is real and not just in my head. It took me a long time to realize that myself. That man will advocate for me before I even have to for myself. For example, I have Ankylosing Spondylitis and scoliosis as well. Combining those and the pain associated with them can flare my IBS. Walking makes all of the above worse. We took a trip to Florida, and Mike requested a wheelchair for the airport. Something I would never do myself due to my pride, but I have to say it made a world of difference for my management of pain and flares. I can honestly say we made the flights and connecting flights from Illinois to Florida, and I didn't have a single flare.

Swallowing my pride and accepting help has been my biggest struggles my whole life. The song titled "I'll Keep On" by NF (featuring Jeremiah Carlson) has the following lyrics:

"It's like I'm standing in the rain, and you offer me a raincoat, but I would rather stand there and get wet than take the handout!"

Accepting help from others

That is me. It sums me up the best anything could be honest. Accepting help from others is just something I don't like to do, but I am learning I have to do.

Traveling has changed for me over the last several years. I am finally able to enjoy it again. Never let something you have no control over control your ability to enjoy life. If that means asking for a seat belt extender on the airplane or taking the offered wheelchair because you know your back just can't handle the walk, do it. It will be worth it. The minutes of embarrassment were so worth being able to watch my daughter play in the ocean for the second time in her life. Being able to enjoy vacations without the extra pain is worth it. Do you have any tips or tricks that work for you when traveling?

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