Travel with Chronic Pain

Travel with chronic painBy: Becky Curtis

Travel can be difficult when we have chronic pain. There are several reasons this can be so for me, especially in the past. I have routines when I’m home that serve me well, but as I start to plan for the upcoming busyness, I start to feel anxious.

The second reason is that this year, we drove nine hours to spend the holiday at our son and daughter-in-law‘s house in Phoenix, Arizona. While I looked forward to the family gathering, I also felt some anxiety about the trip. Each bump in the road causes extra burning nerve pain.

I learned long ago about pain anticipation and what it does to the brain and to my experience of pain. Just the anticipation of something difficult can contribute to making it so.

What do I do instead? Can anticipation of my strengths and abilities instead of my pain aid in shifting my focus? Can having a plan help? I know from past trips that it can and does.

Here are some of the things that I did to adapt my routine and the nine-hour trip to Arizona.

  • My son belongs to a gym in his neighborhood. I asked him to get me a guest pass to allow me to work out daily.
  • I carved out time in the mornings for reading, prayer, and meditation
  • I made time for my daily power nap.
  • I went to bed at my usual time, as this makes my days so much better.

When I speak to groups, I often travel across the country in my car, on planes, busses, uber cars and taxis. I prepare—positively.

Here are a few things I do to prepare:

  • I enjoy listening to music, so I bring my red Bose speaker and listen to music
  • I enjoy the scenery
  • I listen to audible books
  • Conversation with my husband
  • Diaphragmatic breathing works when I feel stress coming on
  • Reading a good book on my Kindle is something I enjoy.
  • I get out of the car, stretch and walk.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat healthy

I used to prepare myself for pain. Now I prepare myself to enjoy the journey.


About the Author: Kris Sutton

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