Travel since TBI has been interesting. I enjoyed traveling pre TBI and have been lucky to be able to do so and am still able to do it. It’s one thing I can still do safely, I just have to plan it a little differently and at times when I run into issues, especially when solo it can be difficult to navigate, but I’m so grateful that I can still travel.
My Feb 1, 2020 post is also about Travel with a brain injury if you want to go back and look at that one too.
Drew, from a podcast, A Battle Within that I was on had suggested getting a brain injury card. I wrote a post awhile back about it and the link is there. I haven’t used it yet, since I got it we have been unable to travel but I do have it for future travels.
I also posted earlier about traveling with TBI and some suggestions I had that I had learned. One being boarding with people with disabilities, because although I do “look” fine, I am not and boarding at the time with people with disabilities is helpful. I need extra time and it’s so helpful to have it, look back at my posts for more on that rather than I write it again.
I had a solo flight ✈️ to Florida and on the way home the plane went through some good turbulence. Normally it wouldn’t bother me. Now with my TBI it definitely bothers me, stresses me out, creates anxiety and sometimes scares the crap out of me. This is all new to me. So I did recently get a prescription from my doctor so I can take an anxiety med before flying. I think when we hit rough patches in the air my PTSD kicks in and I start to feel super unsafe, shake, sweat and get negative thoughts in my head that won’t go away. I know I am ok, I know the plane will be fine, but I can’t help how I feel and react to it. I try to close my window if next to it and focus on my book and listen to music, but it’s hard and it’s a whole new experience. If you are an anxious flyer, feel free to comment on what works for you when going through Turbulence. I’m open to all ideas.
It’s such a different experience and life now traveling with TBI, but I’m so thankful I still can. I’m so thankful I was able to travel alone with my son just 6 months after my accident. Actually, writing that it’s insane. I don’t even know if I asked my doctor, but my husband thinks I did. It’s insane to me that May-July I was in the hospital and rehab. And by the end of November I was flying from Portland, OR to Miami alone with my 13 year old and doing a 7 day cruise to multiple countries. No wonder that trip kicked my ass so much, back at that time I still woke up each day with no memory of the day before like 50 First Dates movie. I know I did hang a sign in my room so when I woke up I knew where I was and I journaled daily about the trip. I went with an amazing friend and her family, they were all so aware and attentive and accommodating to me but I don’t feel I made their vacation less of a vacation or a pain. They were just aware, cared and it showed.
Just writing that though, I am so proud of myself for going and being able to do it and not really having an hiccups. That’s a huge accomplishment from just 6 months before being in a coma and shitting the bed in front of my friend Sarah who I was traveling with, once I was finally awake in the hospital, however I didn’t talk yet and my husband said I grabbed his arm and my first words were “I’m going to shit myself”, and Sarah and my husband had never been so excited that someone was shitting themselves. As he says, not only could I communicate what I was feeling and about to do, but all of a sudden I could talk! I hadn’t talked yet and putting that all together is a huge win in the brain injury world.
Months later for my one year anniversary of my TBI, I would be flying and traveling solo again. This time to California for a weekend of counseling. I had no hiccups on that trip at all. I was able to Uber and navigate around all by myself. Well I guess I did show up at the wrong house and it took me a few to figure it out!
The things I have learned from being able to travel alone with TBI is to always have a plan A, plan B and a plan C. Because you never know how you are gonna feel that day and what you will be able to do energy wise. I have also learned to be willing to ask for help, I have sat in the wrong seat multiple times. So I double check my tickets multiple times, I ask someone also to make sure what I am seeing is right. I also check my bags, not all the times, but I have found that checking my bag is really the way to go. It takes off so much stress, especially since my left side is still numb and I pull my bag with my left arm. Plus less is more. The less I have, the less stressed I am. I also recommend noise canceling headphones, you can’t force the people around you not to talk. One flight I definitely had some chatty Cathy’s behind me, thank gosh I could put on my headphones and not even use them to muffle the sound, especially since I am so noise sensitive.
Eat! I think hangry happens to normal people, but me with a TBI gets hangry and my words start to slur, I don’t make sense and I have trouble figuring things out. I usually pre order a meal on my flight if available. I always carry snacks. Even if I’m not hungry, I eat because I know what can happen if I don’t. No food=I fall apart.
The other thing I do now that I did not use to do before is it travel insurance. That came in handy when I was planning a trip to Europe for my one year TBI anniversary and I decided I should not go. However, I recently bought insurance for the condo and flight to St Thomas in March that we were unable to go on due to COVID. I am super disappointed in the insurance I bought as it’s been a nightmare to work with them. I am assuming it’s because so many people are trying to use it due to canceled trips, and mine was canceled due to the COVID like everyone else but also because of pre-existing conditions and my doctor saying I couldn’t go. The plus is that we had to cancel due to COVID, so the condo owner is honoring our rental and we will go still just at a later date and we also have the first class airfare ticket cost we can use at a later date. Trying to use the insurance now, is not working well for me and my brain. It’s too much, I tried, I did all they asked and submitted what they wanted yet they say they don’t have it and I can see it uploaded. So since the condo owner and airline are honoring our purchases, we will just got in August for my 40th and our 3 year anniversary.. as long as travel restrictions are over.
This is just a little post about traveling with a Traumatic Brain Injury. I know I am extremely lucky to be able to travel, I am beyond grateful and appreciative of the fact I can. I have traveled a lot since injury, I am always here if anyone has a question. Brain injury or not. Travel is a huge part of my life and it will continue to be, it just looks a little different now. Just be prepared, always have a back up plan and don’t expect anything to be easy and always expect the unexpected and just have a great time. I’m alive and I’m able to do this, so it’s hard not to have an amazing time despite the bumpy parts. Just do what’s best for you. What works for one person, may not work for another and that’s just how life is with or without a TBI.