Travelling by train can be frustrating and tiring for most people but if you have a chronic illness, in my experience, it’s far worse! In this post I’m going to mention some things that have helped me to cope during my recent trips to London hospital appointments, these may not work for you and I’m sure some will simply be common sense but a reminder is always a help.
Firstly for me, there’s the stress. Packing stress, travel stress, headache stress… Packing is one thing that has become far easier with practice. Something I learned the hard way a couple of years ago was that, if you have to carry it around all day, a bag is not a fashion accessory; it is a practical necessity. Long story short, I ended up with a bruised arm and a (short term) hatred of any bag that was not a backpack. Now I use a shoulder bag with a wide strap and easy to reach pockets. It keeps everything organized, the strap is very comfortable and I’m not constantly checking my back to make sure nothing’s been stolen because I can keep my hand over the zip at the side. One less worry. It might sound like a hassle but making a list days before hand and checking it- if you’re staying overnight you could check the list in bed so you can look around to see what you keep close to you at night, the (things that I would call) essentials like medication and Mp3 players -can be a lifesaver if you’re like me and tend to bung half the contents of your room in at the last minute due to an anxiety-fuelled belief that you ‘need’ them. The next would be people. I know it will barely provide any protection, but my fluffy snood always feels like a barrier between me and the coughs and colds of the other passengers! I usually try and wear something ‘nice’ so it feels like a more enjoyable trip- as opposed to a dreary hospital appointment – plus that way, if anyone seems to stare at me, I can assure myself it’s because of my glitter-covered leggings rather than anything else!
I’ve also earned quite a few curious glances as a result of being the only person, to my knowledge, in the London underground wearing sunglasses. Bright lights and tired eyes do not make for an enjoyable journey. If you think this would help you then test out your glasses before hand. I have
very dark prescription ones that would see me, well, not being able to see.
Lastly, the bit you probably know but that I seem to forget, stay hydrated! It’s often easy to forget an awkward, heavy water bottle in the mist of everything but that doesn’t mean it is not essential.
In short, stay organised, rest, eat and drink when you need to and don’t worry. It’s only for a day or two.
P.S. Sadly, I can’t offer any advice on wheelchair travel- I only know that not all tube stations have step free access and it all sounds very difficult when you don’t have any experience. I decided to leave mine at home -my body hates me for it- but it is possible and I may do it one day!