Sunday, February 8, 2015

traveling with chronic illness and allergies, or how to give yourself a panic attack, part 1

This weekend we are on the Oregon Coast at an unschooling conference, for four days and three nights. Because of the length of time we would be away, we brought the dog and the cat with us to the (thankfully pet-friendly) hotel. I almost had a panic attack before we came, just about having everything we would need to get through the time here.

Once upon a time, several lifetimes ago it seems, in my late teens and early 20s, we used to go to science fiction conventions regularly, and therefore spent a lot of time in hotels. All I needed was a couple of changes of clothes, my toothbrush and some long t-shirts to sleep in. We'd share a room with 13 other people, spread all over the floors, in sleeping bags, on cots and mattresses, some just on the floor. After all, a con wasn't about sleeping, it was about partying (and gaming for some). The room was mostly a place to keep our stuff, shower, change clothes and catch a nap - and also, to hang out and party with our many roommates. I LOVED it. I loved going to cons, it was about as stress-free as life could be - the only thing we ever bothered to stock up on was alcohol - everything else came as it was needed and/or was inconsequential.

Oh, how my life has changed. I still love going to conferences, but now staying in hotel is fraught with anxiety - will the hotel rooms be cleaned with harsh chemicals? Will the sheets be full of bleach? Will I be able to smell the pool from my room? Will there be mold? Will there be a kitchenette and a fridge in the room, for our food? Will there be a lot of noise in the halls? Will I be able to hear other guests in their rooms? Will I be completely overstimulated and overwhelmed by the people and events happening there? 
Would I be able to sleep?

The amount of stuff we need to bring in order to manage my health and make everything okay for me to go away from our home is...well, anxiety-producing. Bear in mind it's not just me, but my son and all his things, and the dog and cat, too...and we drive a compact sedan, which makes packing like a complicated game of tetris.

To bottom line it, we have to bring half of our kitchen - we can't eat at most (if any) restaurants, so we have to make sure we have all of our own food. And I can't really eat packaged food, so it needs to be cooked.

The list of what we bring looks something like this: 

toaster oven
hot plate
dish pan for washing dishes (hotel sinks are notoriously small and awkward for dishwashing)
utensils: 3 each butter knives, forks, spoons; spatula, can opener, veggie peeler, tea strainer, chef's knife, wooden flat-edge spoon
cutting board
dish soap
hand soap (hotel soaps have chemicals I don't tolerate, not to mention perfumes)
3 each small plates, dinner plates, bowls
1 stir fry pan, 1 small pot for boiling water (our kettle is ceramic and heavy so I worry it will be damaged in transit)
mixing bowl
nut milk straining bag (for straining my green juice)
coffee press (my husband has to have his java)
dish towels
dish cloths
fabric napkins

Food includes veggies, meats, fruit, fat, salt, honey, jam, sunbutter, anything packaged any of us can eat, all gluten-free, corn-free, egg-free; food for cat and dog, tea and coffee, and as much filtered water in glass as we can fit in the car - enough, hopefully, to last the 4 days. 
All our meds and supplements, portioned out for 4 days


Pillows, leg pillows, blankets, sheets to fit the hotel beds, comforter - I can't tolerate the detergents and bleach they use on hotel bedding, so we have to strip the beds and use our own. 
CPAP machine
sleep mask
fan for white noise
nose drops (for CPAP)
distilled water (for CPAP)


3 laptops
2 kindles
2 tablets
2 smart phones
2 power strips
chargers for all
SLR and point and shoot cameras and cables to xfer images to computer
wii u
wii u games in cases
4 wii motes and remote charger
2 wii nunchuks
Gameboy Advance

Folding camping dog crate
litterbox and litter
Dog toys
Dishes for food/water
Leash/poop bags

Plush for kiddo (he has a HUGE duffel bag he uses for his plush, and he fills it)
Notebooks and pens for zentangle doodles
Sharpie markers
Bedtime reading

And in my purse as always, cash, basic first aid stuff, my Vogmask, and my epipens

And then of course clothing plus swim stuff just in case we decide to use the pool (I react to chlorine, so is unlikely, but you never know) and toiletries

And ALL of this has to be packed into a compact sedan, along with three people, a cat and a pug. Which honestly wouldn't be as big a deal if it weren't for needing to pack four days worth of food  - that takes up a LOT of space!

So you see, along with all the worries about being in a hotel in a city I'd never visited, so didn't know how I might react - anxiety!

I was so panicked about this trip. I mean, I couldn't know until we got there how I would really react...and that was enough. But trying to get ALL that stuff not just packed, but also packed into a compact sedan, still leaving enough room for the humans and animals? I mean, was it even possible? And would just getting ready wipe me out so much that I'd be crashed the whole time I was there? Would I even be able to leave the hotel room when I was there? 

1 comment:

  1. whew! happy you all got to go though! determination! admirable! have fun you guys, have fun!


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