Monday, August 10, 2015

Traveling with a Disability and a Dog

While on my recent trip, I reflected several times on how lucky I am in many ways.  I own a car, I am able to drive, I had the time and the money to take the trip - all things some people with disabilities would not have had.  At the same time, I also thought about the challenges involved with traveling with a disability and a service dog.

The trip from Ohio to Nebraska was about 14 hours of straight driving time.  Of course, no one can drive non-stop for 14 hours.  One must stop to pee and get gas, at the least.

The trip there took me longer than it would have taken many people, I think, because I have to stop frequently and stops take me longer than they might take someone without a service dog. 

Frequent stops are a must for me for a couple of reasons. 

I've always said I have a bladder the size of a pea, but really, I think I have interstitial cystitis, an inflammation of the lining of the bladder that causes UTI-like symptoms including a frequent need to urinate.  It's apparently common in people with fibromyalgia, or at least similar symptoms are common in people with fibro.  I don't know for sure if I have interstitial cystitis because I don't want to be tested for it because I think it would be pretty triggering for me with regard to my PTSD, but my rheumatologist says it's common and that the gabapentin I take should help with it.  I don't think it helps much, though.  But anyway, I have to pee often.  I'm lucky if I can drive two hours without having to find place to stop and pee.

In addition, with my back problems, moving around and stretching frequently is very important.  If I don't do it, I pay later.

Isaac does not need to pee as frequently as I do, but I generally give him a chance to pee whenever I get him out of the van.  And getting him out to go with me someplace requires putting his vest on and then taking it off again when we get back to the van.  And I try to offer him water frequently, too, when we travel, pretty much every time we stop.  All of that only takes a few minutes, but add it together, and each stop takes a little time. 

And then add in the number of stop, and it's a long long drive.

And then I have to realize that a long drive like this will probably be stressful and my anxiety and pain will end up increasing, even if I have a really enjoyable trip.

And it was a good trip.  But now I'm recovering from it.  I'm still exhausted and my fibro is acting up.

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