I have been pondering periodic pithy peregrinations as of late. Before I embark on one of these journeys, unexpected arrangements must be made. For a person not living with multiple sclerosis preparations for a trip is an effortless endeavor. When making the same provisions for a MSer it is crucial to be meticulous.
In 1910 Lieutenant General Baden-Powell started the Boy Scouts of America. The motto that he used was “Be Prepared” yet it is not just the Boy Scouts who use this motto. In this MS life that is full of uncertainty and ambiguity, we must be ready for anything. Our every move must be considered and carefully thought out. It is true that everyone would benefit from planning for an extended outing. However, the mismanagement of time for a Non-MS individual may cause a minor inconvenience.
On the other hand, for a MSer time miscalculations can cause extremely adverse outcomes. When I take a trip anyplace, some key factors need to be addressed. The length of time and reasoning for said travel changes everything that I do to prepare. All aspects of packing, planning, and scheduling have to be modified depending on the goal of the excursion. Of course, it changes how much clothing, medical supplies and other necessities that I will pack. I even need to plan more specifically if I am visiting a person or if I am visiting a place.
It is essential that I keep the weather in the forefront of my mind. I need to focus mostly on the temperatures. Will it be hot enough for my cooling vest? Do the low numbers on the thermometer demand a winter coat and hat? No matter if it is rain or snow it is essential to prepare for any precipitation.
If this will be an overnight trip, then there are other issues to examine. The amenities of the room that I will be staying in are definitely of significant concern. The bed must be lower to the ground. It is essential for me to be able to pull my wheelchair next to it and transfer to and from the bed safely. It is a requirement that there is a shower chair with a back wherever I bathe. The last mandatory item for the bathroom is an ADA height toilet. I also need plenty of space next to the said toilet for me to have wheelchair maneuverability.
A map of the area is a valuable tool to have. Do I know where the closest hospital is compared to the place that I will stay? Where is the location of the nearest pharmacy and what are the hours of operation? Since we all like to eat what is the locale of the non-fast-food restaurants?
It is important to note that all of this may seem overwhelming to the inexperienced individual. However, my wheelchair felt awkward in the beginning too yet it is now second nature. In most cases, one phone call can resolve many issues all at once. Not to mention that in this connected world of Google on smartphones a search for this type of information is simple. Finding this information is like playing hide and seek with a four-year-old it takes minimal effort to find.
If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. Even Santa Clause makes a list and checks it twice. I’m sure that the man in red made a few mistakes in the beginning. I learned to “Be Prepared” in the Boy Scouts. I was taught how those two words can rescue you in a tight spot in the Marine Corps. However, as a MSer you learn how those words can help save lives.
We must prepare and prevent, not repair and repent.