Portrait of WheelchairTravel.org Guest Blogger Lauren GoddardFour years ago, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I was 25 at the time, a business owner, and a frequent flier. While traveling has become tougher, I’ve learned a few tricks to help my body during even the most stressful of flights. One such flight happened this past New Year’s.

I recently completed a cross-country flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Los Angeles, California, with a stop in Houston. Since my layover in Houston was scheduled to be only a half hour, I knew that I needed to deplane quickly, find my airport assistant with a wheelchair, and get to my departing gate.

As I was hurrying through the very large Houston Airport, my connecting flight was delayed 30 minutes due to weather.

With the uncertainty of the fluctuating departure time, I decided to skip picking up a meal in order to get to my gate. I hadn’t eaten all day.

We actually boarded soon after my arrival, in the hopes of departing before the center of the thunderstorm hit Houston. After everyone boarded, the captain then informed us we were grounded for an extra hour due to the storm, and would sit on the tarmac while we waited. At least an extra hour would be added to my journey – Great.

The captain had cut the air to conserve gas (heat triggers MS symptoms). Now is when I began regretting ignoring my body’s needs earlier in the day.

My MS began acting up very badly with extra pain, sweating, numbness in my extremities, dizziness, and nausea.

I had put off taking my injection of disease-modifying medicine until I was to board for my original take-off time, but that was closing in on three hours ago at this point. Pain in my legs from inactivity was reaching an unbearable level.

I felt physically weak and began getting confused as to my location and actions (a common symptom when my MS begins to flare, but very serious when trying to keep track of travel plans).

So, I chose to do what was best for my body and, despite my reservations, I asked the people next to me if they minded if I gave myself an injection in the lower stomach. Thankfully the older lady and her teenage grandson were accommodating (really, they deserve recognition for bearing with how much I was moving, shifting and rubbing my legs on the plane until arrival in Los Angeles).

The injection helped immediately and I was left with a still painful but bearable flight into LAX.

What did I learn? When it comes to my disease, my body’s health should ALWAYS be the priority. I must eat enough for every meal, drink lots of water, and take my medications on time despite what delays or cancelations I encounter.

This doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy travel, but I do need to make my body’s health the priority before I indulge in the pleasures of traveling.

With air travel, delays will always be a possibility. Yes, I’ll be put in difficult situations, but my body needs the consistency of taking my medicine on time every day so I can continue flying for years to come.

Lauren Goddard is a 28 year old writer/editor. Despite being diagnosed with aggressive multiple sclerosis four years ago and enduring two years of chemotherapy, she still enjoys traveling and living life to the fullest. You can follow her on Facebook at https://facebook.com/lgoddard.


What difficulties do you experience when traveling?
What steps do you take to overcome these challenges?
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