Wednesday, 30 April 2014

When strangers become friends

I have been wanting to do a post about this topic for a while and have recently thought about posting it as part of my upcoming blogaversary. However on Monday many of us in the spoonie/chronic illness community online were left devastated by the news that a very dear friend had passed away. Non of us had ever met her in person but her influence on us was still profound. It may seem strange to be so deeply affected by the passing of a relative stranger but in the end she wasn't a stranger she had become a friend and a great support.

Irene, was one of the first people I spoke to in the online chronic illness community. It was not long after I started writing my blog and discovering similar blogs, one of which Irene wrote (laughing from my sickbed). She soon became an inspiration to me, having suffered with ME for 38 years and yet she was always in good humour and offering support to others in similar situations. She encouraged me to write my story through my blog, to be brave and tell the world all about this awful illness.

Soon enough though, we started talking about more everyday things, such as television series, learning languages (she was impressed with my attempts to learn Greek) and reading. She was a keen reader, full of recommendations. Even as simple as asking how are you? Good morning/ Good night. Did you sleep well? Simple conversations but when you are often cut off from society through illness hearing these words can make a big difference. A little piece of normality.

Irene said that she was incredibley grateful for the invention of social media as it gave her a social life of sorts again. You may not be able to work, leave the house often, some may only see their carers. However by simply logging on to social media the world becomes that little bit smaller and less lonely. You realise that you are not the only one in that situation, and although that saddens you it also comforts you; that there are people who fully understand what you're going through. That you do not need to explain yourself to and will treat as much more as a normal person than that person with an illness.

Of course we do acknowledge our illnesses because we know that we don't need to censor ourselves with other sufferers. They will not define us as whingers or moaners or 'constanly talking about being ill.' Because sadly they get it. They know that we probably do come across as though all we talk about is being ill, but the difference is we are constanly ill. We're not being hypercondriacts or seeking attention. The moments and I do mean moments, that we are not hyper aware of our illness from the vast array of symptoms vying for our attention are few and far between.

This is why having those 'normal' conversations can make all the difference. Yes, they may be through social media and with people we have never met in person and perhaps won't ever meet in person, but they're an essential part of keeping our mental health in check. Making us feel less alone and forgotten about.

I have a great group of friends now through social media, mostly on Twitter. We talk practically everyday, again asking those everyday questions. When one of us is having a particularly bad day the immediate support and comfort is so heart warming. Likewise, if we're having a good day; everyone is genuinely made up for that person. Nowhere else will you get as much support and cheers for saying "today I managed to get downstairs" or "today, I washed my own hair."  Things that sound so small and not at all in the realms of 'normal' success or achievement but can be huge milestones for someone with a chronic illness.

If one of us is quiet, not as active on social media as usual it's heartening to see messages of concern or a simple "I hope you're okay."  And okay meaning no worse than usual, not run of the mill okay.

One of the nicest things I've experienced is getting things in the post from my online friends. Little gifts that will make your day, especially if you've beem feeling worse than usual. It's so beautiful to know that although they have limited spoons which are used just to get them through the day, that they have used some of that precious energy to help you. Honestly, the people I have met are so selfless, even though they really need to be, to take care of themselves. Especially when they have taken time and effort to make you something. It makes the gesture all the more special. I have recieved some beautiful handmade jewellery and even some homemade chocolate spoons.

Again, I believe it all comes from that deeper level of understanding. You know just how rubbish you're feeling so can fully relate to others with the same condition. And if they're worse than usual or develop another illness/symptom you are fully sympathetic.

Most importantly, we make eachother laugh. Laughter can be such good medicine. Often we make jokes of ourselves. Things like "I've done so many push ups this morning. It took me 20 just to sit up." Being able to laugh at ourselves can be a good coping stratergy. Sharing a joke and a laugh is just so important for moralle and it amazes me that despite all the rubbish of chronic illness people can still laugh. It shows great strength.

Social media has definitely made the world a smaller place and although I can fully understand the negative associations; the living your life through a screen, the idea of presenting an unrealistic version of yourself and the one I find a particular bugbear: "posting about your life instead of living it."  Do you know what I mean? The status updates about "I'm having the best time," when you're thinking "well, if you're really having the time of your life why are you posting about it, rather than LIVING it." I think maybe that's an annoyance that has grown stronger with being chronically ill. That if you could be out there "living" more, you would soak it all up.

So this post is dedicated to all my online friends, my spoonie Brothers and Sisters that brighten my days and inspire me with their kindness and empathy in the face of their own difficulties. Apologies it's turned into rather a long post but honestly there are not enough words to describe these people.

If Irene taught me anything it was the value of friendship and I will honour that by being a good friend and continue to support others on their journeys.

Thank you Irene. Thank you to all my online friends.

Sian x

If any of you knew Irene @upasbook and would like to honour her I have set up an in memory fund for the charity her family expressed in her obituary CFIDS Associstion of America. You can view it here

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Packing tips

Such pretty cases; photo source Pinterest

It's finally time to get packing those bags to go away. I wish! Firstly, the golden rule if you have a chronic illness, as highlighted in my pre-packing/ planning post is to leave the week before you go away as free as possible for resting. This is also a useful tip for anyone wanting to take away some of that pre-holiday stress, you know that feeling when you're so stressed with so much to do that you need a holiday?

Again for anyone with a chronic illness get as much help packing as possible. You can supervise with your list and with all the preperation you have done. 

For clothes that are more likely to crease put them all together at the end of the rack in your watdrobe, to put into your case the day before going away.

Again, always work from a list, so not to forget anything. Below I have put two photos of comprehensive lists of the types of things you need. You can print copies of these and view larger versions by opening the links from my pinterest. You can use these as a starting point and then write a more specific one, 'blue floral print dress' for example. Descriptions are great if you are not able to sort through your own things and getting help with packing.  

photo source Pinterest

Photo source Pinterest

Know your baggage allowance and any sizing restrictions and adhere to them, those fines are hefty. Always weigh your bags at home before you go.

I have been looking up some packing tips on Pinterest too. Some of my favourites are 22 Easy Tricks To Make Packing So Much Better, some seem a bit extreme but others look genius, one of which being to use a foldable wardrobe storage, like you would use for camping to pack foldable clothes that you can then put straight into the wardrobe in your room. Another favourite was from twotwentyone, that has some useful tips for packing jewellery and keeping things organized.

Other tips are to always put the heaviest items at the bottom of your case

I'm sure many of you have heard that rolling your clothes is better and more economical with space, rather than folding. However I read a great tip about folding on the way there and rolling on the way back to know you have room for any purchases.

Wear your heaviest items to travel in, trainers for example or carry your coat.

Put the items that you are likely to need first at the top of your case. A change of clothes etc. Often for those with a chronic illness that is pyjamas, to rest after travelling.

I also pre-pack my beach/pool bag, with towel, sunglasses, sun cream, flip flops etc, so that I am not having to pull everthing out to find things. I can simply grab that bag and get soaking up those rays.

I saw a great tip on Pinterest and have included a photo of below, it applied to travelling with children but I think it could work for adults too. It was to create and bundle together an outfit for each day, so for example t-shirt, shorts, socks, underwear, hair accessories then place each bundle in a zip loc or vacuum bag and label with a day for each day that you will be away. Then do another bag for swimwear and pyjamas and some extra clothing just in case. If they are creasable then take each outfit out of the bag the night before and spray lightly with a water spray and hang up. I think this could work well for many people. As for children it promotes responsibility and helps them get dressed by themselves.

A great thing to pack is a refillable water bottle with a filter, such as this one on Amazon. They may be expenisve initially but think of the money you will save on buying bottled water, whether you're abroad or on a cruise. Also lessens the rush to get to the shops and allows you to refill at the airport without purchasing another bottle.

If the bathroom is small in your accommodation or does not have much shelf space use an over the door washbag or one of those shoe holders (as seen inn photo beleow) to store your toiletries. This is great for cruises or caravan holidays.

As well as luggage tags, which could easily rip off put a piece of paper with your home address and holiday address on, on top of all your items inside your case, making it easier to be sent to you should it go missing.

This isn't a packing tip as such but could come in handy for anyone travelling with young children. If your accommodation only has a shower, consider buying an inflatable paddling pool or boat to be used as a bath. Guess that could be used for spoonies too. Remember you can tranport 2 pieces of medical equipment with you, free of charge, so one of these could be a shower stool or wheelchair.

Check out my post on special assistance and medication for more information on travelling with medical equipment. 

Do check out Pinterest packing tips for lots more tricks and nifty ideas.

Anymore packing tips then please leave a comment. Remember to pace as much as possible and get help where possible too. You may notice I've not mentioned hand luggage, well fear not that is coming up next. I thought it deserved a post of it's own seen as it would be carrying the majority of your spoonie and travel survival toolkit.


Saturday, 19 April 2014


That title took several attempts, my spelling is atrocious lately. I've been spelling things as they sound. Naughty brain.

Anyhow, today I'm diverting a little from my travel series because as the title suggests I've been doing a lot of looking back lately. I know the importance of trying to live in the moment and most the time I do. I often surprise myself with how fast time can go when you feel it should be dragging from doing very little over and over. However it's inevitable that we'll look back on occasion. Thinking about our lives before M.E and how much things have changed.

Lately I've been thinking about life a year ago and although I still had M.E when I think back things were very different. Just over a year ago my friend gave birth to a gorgeous baby boy and myself and another friend went to visit. But the big thing was that I actually drove the 20 minutes there and back. That's the last time I drove. I wasn't originally supposed to drive, not wanting to use up too much energy and fearing not being well enough to drive back, but my friend got lost so I had to go find her and then she followed me there. And all was fine. I do miss driving and the freedom it brings but right now I'm sure I wouldn't have the strength to use the pedals or handbreak.

What's more, a year ago I actually went to a football match. A 25 minute car journey 25 minute train journey, a ride on the top deck of the soccer bus, waiting around before going to our seats, climbing the steep steps to our seats, sitting for 90 minites, celebrating goals and then the same journey home. How the heck did I do all that?

I remember I wasn't going to go too, as I was feeling rough and hadn't had much sleep. Again, what was I thinking? In truth I was thinking I needed to escape my thoughts. I'd found out a few days before that a friend was in an induced coma after developing double pneumonia (hmm no problems spelling that) and all I wanted to do was rush down there, 3 hours away. But obviously I couldn't. It was very frustrating. So I think I was running off adrenalin. It also helped that I rested in the car and train and used minfulness. The good news is that he came out of the coma on Easter Sunday, so we now call him Jesus, which he relishes.

Looking back it's crazy to think about doing those things but I did them. I was very much of the opinion of trying to do what I could and grabbing opportunities. Perhaps subscribing a little bit too much to the boom and bust theory but I didn't care. I simply wanted a normal life when I could. And now that my conditon has got worse and fibromyalgia has set in I'm glad I did them.

If I could recover my health to what it was a year ago, first off I'd be extatic, I have no doubt I would be a bit reckless. Make the most of it. It may not be good in the long run and could end up relapsing again but at least I'll have intetesting memories. Of course I would ensure I got plenty of rest too and not do too much knowing full well a relapse could happen but if there was an opportunity and I was well enough I'd grab it.

Now those opportunities might just be to get out for half an hour round the shops but they're still opportunities I grab when I can. I remember being on holiday just before my diagnosis and telling myself that although my life was about to dramatically change that if I could still steer it in a good direction and make new memories then I had to make the most of things when I could. I'd try my best to not just be defined by illness and keep developing the condidence I'd gained. That's when I took a dip in the sea from a boat (I didn't jump). I am terrified of deep water so I shocked myself with that one. But I was so proud of myself.

The one time it bit me in the ass (although the payback actually wasn't too crazy) was when I went horse riding on holiday. It was more than I was expecting, we did a lot more cantering than I could cope with and I was clinging on as I was so tired. My horse also hated this other horse who's rider kept trying to talk to me about Prince Harry getting naked (he was a German man that turned up in just speedos, sandals and a bumbag, that's a memory in it's self). I forgot just how much hard work horse riding was.

But again I did it. I know some people will say well if you did that you can't have had M.E and indeed it is a big difference in the scale of things now. M.E is a journey with peaks and troughs. Those things weren't easy, there was plenty of resting and payback. However memories were made at a time I thought I'd be very limited to making new and exciting ones. I'm so glad I did.

Of course now they might be more tame memories to make but with the help of my memory jar I'm appreciating them all the more. Life is not just about the big events it's about experiencing great friendships and love, laughing and learning.

So many people take their health for granted. It unlocks so many doors and opportunities. So although I know I would grab opportunities and be a bit reckless once I reduce the severity of M.E, I'll be sure to look after myself too, so not to come crashing down again.

If you had the chance to do something new or revisit something, what would it be?

A photo collage below of some of those memories mentioned in this post. Check out those bruises!


Friday, 18 April 2014

Some useful tips for travelling with a chronic illness: pre-packing

Most of us know (possibly mostly women more than men although I do know a few exceptions) that packing to go on holiday is never as simple as just throwing some clothes in a suitcase. It might be on the way back, as well as carefully wrapping those duty free purchases in your beach towels. But packing to go on holiday can be a complex operation that could take weeks of planning. Especially if you are packing on behalf of your family too. So much so that I've had to split this post into a few sections. Today's tips and advice are all about the pre-packing/ planning stage. Where the key aim is to to leave as little as possible to do in the week before going away, when resting needs to take precedence.

Pre-packing/ Planning:

I know many people have Summer and Winter wardrobes so the first step is to get the wardrobe that you need accessible (taken down from the attic etc). Put any new holiday purchases (come on I know you have done) with them too or on the end of the rail so easy to locate and see what you have. Use up all your research to decide what you will need to take. Do you already have it? Or do you need to purchase some things? Factor in any changes in weight that may have occurred due to illness, try things on when possible. Try and purchase things asap. Also use internet shopping where possible to save those spoons. You can purchase virtually anything online nowadays from clothes to insect repellent, so use it.

If you have researched well (click the link to my tips on researching a holiday) you will have a good idea of what to take. 

Always write a list and keep it and a pen handy for when you suddenly think of an item to add to it. We can all suffer from brain fog, chronic illness or not.

When writing your list think about:

 All the things that you use to get you through the day, especially a bad day. Things that you have come to rely on to help you cope. For example essential oils, a tens machine, hot water bottle (mine goes everywhere with me, yes even to Greece) or ice packs. You may be on holiday but your symptoms won't be. So give these items priority. Consider packing them all together in a bag so they are easy to access, with any essential oils wrapped separately in case of leaking.

Think about the types of activities you are going to do on holiday and pack items accordingly. Remember to bear in mind any cultural/ religious beliefs of the country you are visiting, and pack appropriate cover ups. Do you need to dress up formally for dinner? Or do you like to? May as well seen as we get such little opportunity to do so.

Importantly always pack for the weather. If it's hot always take a hat. Burning the top of your head can make you very ill. It's also a great way to keep the sun out of your eyes.

Think about what the hotel provides; Hairdryers etc. Or whether in a hot country you are likely to still want to blow dry your hair. Regarding hairdryers and straighteners etc, be careful of voltage conversions and pack adaptors. Don't blow up your expensive straighteners.

Ladies think about leaving the heels at home, unless they are expected as formal wear. They can take up room in your case, and most of that space is already taken by your spoonie survival kit. If you are in a wheelchair also consider that some places may not be as accessible and you may need to step out of it more often.

What your usual holiday habits are? Do you usually not take toiletries with you and buy them there, etc? Or pack some staple foods with you. You may wish to consider packing toiletries if you don't usually in case you are not up to going and purchasing them when you arrive due to the strain of the travelling. 

Anyone with special dietary requirements may also want to pack some snacks etc as they may be difficult to source.

Consider how your body temperature changes sporadically and take items to suit this, cover ups, extra pyjamas for night sweats etc. I know that my feet and lower legs in particular can get very cold, so socks and long pyjama bottoms are my preference.

If you have lots to pack due to illness try to be economical where you can. A capsule wardrobe perhaps or plenty of mix and match items.

Wash any clothes/ towels that you want to take weeks in advance to pace yourself where possible. When you're normally in pyjamas not having to wash clothes last minute can come in handy but it also works with work clothes or just different climates. 

Put all items together and tick them off the list. I saw a great tip on Pinterest about putting the items you want to pack in a laundry basket or a box that could be put under the bed (unless it's a divan) and putting a list of what still needs to go in there on the top. The tip came from a woman who had pets that got anxious every time they saw a suitcase, not wanting to be left. If you want to use your case though to save a spoon then of course do so.

Also think about all the other last minute things (but for you need to not be last minute, but carefully paced) you will need to do and make a list, so not to forget. Giving family a copy of your flight or contact details, bills that need paying before you go away, telling your bank that you are abroad so that they do not block your card thinking it has been stolen. Checking your mobile will work abroad. Making photocopies of documents such as passports. Giving a spare key to someone that might be keeping an eye on your house/ pets. And other housework actvities like emptying the bins, and clearing the fridge. 

Next in the series I will be talking packing. 

Again your tips are welcome and I hope you have found these tips helpful.


Friday, 11 April 2014

Some useful tips for travelling with a chronic illness: medication

We all know that when you have a chronic illness medication becomes a big part of our lives. In truth it's probably my method of telling the time. You get through the day by going from one lot of medication to the next. So when you go on holiday guess what is going to end up taking most of your baggage allowance? Like a travelling pharmacy.
So here are some tips to help plan all things medication for your holiday:

1) A few weeks before start working out how many tablets/ medicine you will need to take with you. Or ask someone to help with this.

2) Make sure you order enough medication to last you for the holiday and around a week or so afterwards (incase you are struggling after the holiday) from the chemists.

3) Always factor in taking a few days worth more, just to be precautious of any delays and not having enough medication. Better safe than sorry.

4) The same applies for pain killers. Take the maximum daily dosage that you are allowed with you (even if you don't take that many currently), again factoring in a couple of days extra. Note that due to the change in routine and travelling you may initially experience more pain, so it's always best to be prepared.

5) Make sure that you carry a printed copy of your list of medication, a repeat prescription for example, with your name on and keep with your medication. For some countries you may also need a doctors letter. This is so that they can be identified at security. It could also be useful should you need medication or medical attention whilst on holiday. Having the list could be beneficial especially in a foreign country and you are in no state to be listing your medication should you need medical attention.       

6) In the same vain some would say that you need to keep your medication in their labelled boxes. However that could potentially take up most of your baggage allowance. I have read that if you go over your hand luggage allowance due to medication then you will not be charged as long as you have documentation. Check with your airline. Try to put as many as you can in each box to save room and keep tablets in their blister packs to be identified. Loose tablets will need to be tested more stringently 

7) For liquid medications again check with your airline for their policies. They will often be tested at security too. Again a prescription or a letter from your doctor is needed.

8) For syringe based medication, insulin, epi pens etc make sure again they are clearly labelled and inform staff about them and show your prescription/ doctors note. If you need to dispose of any syringes onboard ask a member of the cabin crew for the sharps box.

9) If you have medication that needs to be kept in a fridge discuss this with your airlines special assistance team ( see special assistance post for contact details). Many airlines cannot store medication in an oboard fridge but will sometimes fill a cool bag (provided by you) with ice to keep it cool. Discuss this also with your pharmacist. This advice is from British Airways page.

10) If you need to use onboard oxygen this can be arranged with special assistance. Airlines cannot carry oxygen cylinders in the hold or cabin but can transport personal oxygen concentrators. 

11) For any medical equipment discuss this with a member of the special assistance team. Ask whether it counts as part of your luggage allowance or not.   You can use personal oxygen concentrators, cpap machines and personal dialysis machines onboard. Generally they will need to be switched off for take off and landing. Also ensure they can run off a battery as any powerpoints on board may not be sufficient.

12) In order to be considered fit to fly unaccompanied you must be able to administer your own medication. You can learn more about the fit to fly regulations on the airlines website.

13) It is reccommended that you keep your medication in your hand luggage just incase of delays or your bags going missing. Insulin must always be kept in hand luggage as it will freeze in the hold.

14) Additional medication- Consider packing other tablets that may be useful whilst you're away. A good insect repellent is always useful, the stronger the better and bite cream. An antihistamine such as piriton. Immodium and rehydration sachets should you get deli belly. Suncream of course (although not strictly medication)   I would advise using a higher than usual factor due to extra sensitivities and because we do not get as much sunlight being stuck in bed. And some aftersun just in case you do burn. Sudocream is also great or witch hazel gel. Or athletes foot cream is a good trick to use to take away any burning. Not that you want to burn as it could make you more ill. I alsoreccommend some throat lozenges. The day after flying I always get terrible sore throats from the filtered air on the plane.

16) Some medications may be illegal in the country you are travelling to and therefore you may have difficulty getting them into the country. Research may need to be done on some medications and you may need to discuss this with your doctor and pharmacist. You can check on the countries embassy website. Countries such as the United Arab Emirates are very strict and ban the import of some prescriptive drugs other than by hospitals. This can include codeine, cold and flu remedies such as tixylix and those containing sudoephadrine, tramadol, diazapam and prozac. I found a link (it is by US Embassy for the UAE) with a list of banned medications in the UAE. I will put it in my useful links page as again my phone is being annoying. Tripadvisor also has useful forums on this topic. Before booking it would be best to check this and maybe decide on a different location. Also remember that you may be travelling through a country as part of a stop over to another, Australia for example. Australia also require you to declare any medication before hand. 

So there you have it! My tips and advice for taking your medication away with you. (Sorry this bit is in bold too, editing on my phone and it won't let me switch back).  Remember if in doubt always check with the airline, better to be safe than sorry. Especially with something as important as medication. 

Anymore tips are gratefully recieved. The next post in this travel series is all about Packing, so stay tuned.

Sian x

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Some useful tips for travelling with a chronic illness: special assistance

Apologies for the interval between this series of blog posts on travelling with a chronic illness. Perhaps now is a good time to start up again though, with the advent of Spring (yes I'm a comedienne) putting many people in the holiday mood, or more likely just the rubbish weather making us want to escape to the sun. I know that I certainly am desperate to jet off to my favourite Greek Haven.

Just to recap, I started this mini series of posts to give advice to help chronically ill people know that there are ways and means to travelling when you have an illness. Yes, it requires a lot of planning and consideration but it is possible. The first installment of this series on research, a very important stage of preparing to go away can be read here. My tips on finding travel insurance can be found here and a list of all the planning, a checklist of necessities that you will need to do here. You can read about my adventures abroad here, where I had a meltdown at the airport because I could literally not walk another step, so we had to ask for last minute assistance. This is also where I knew that when I got back from holiday I'd be needing a wheelchair to help me get around. Then the next time we went away I used prebooked special assistance, which you can read about here.

This post is dedicated to the mecca of spoonie travel and that is special assistance. It really does make all the difference. Special assistance is a service that helps those with a disability of any kind or those that cannot walk far through the airport and on the flight.

Airports are big, busy places, generally with lots of walking and waiting/ standing around. Cueing to check in, cueing at passport control, cueing at security, cueing for the toilets (ladies), cueing at the boarding gate, cueing on the plane as people stow their things. And the distance to your gate can be long. Therefore special assistane for anyone with limited mobility is ideal. 

I reccommend anyone with a chronic illness or disability, invisible, hearing or sight problems or otherwise, including learning or mental health difficulties consider adding special assistance when booking their flights. Say for instance you are travelling alone and you are hard of hearing then special assistance through the airport can help you get through the airport and onto the plane. A member of the team can help you at check in, security and th boarding gate. Also I have seen people who are very nervous about flying use the service so that they avoid cues getting onto the plane, which may bring on a panic attack. Special assistance through the airport is usually ran by a seperate company, however it must be reqested through the airline so that they have all the necessary information to keep you safe during the flight and arrange assistance on arrival at both airports. I will list the special assistance pages of a number of airlines at the end of this post. However when booking assistance I always reccomend phoning them as you can discuss your needs in more detail then. Phone numbers can be found on each page.

If you have mobility problems and use a walking stick or crutch then these can be taken onboard, they don't incurr any extra charges and don't count towards the number of carry on items you are allowed. The only rule is that they are scanned and that they do not obstuct the planes ailse once onboard. For wheelchair users or those that need to use one to cope with walking distance at the airport but do not have your own whelchair, then you can request one to help you through the airport. Sometimes if you only require assistance to your boarding gate a buggy may be used. You also have the option of someone taking you, which s good if you are travelling alone or one of the other members of your travel party can push you. Before boarding anyone using special assistance is asked to wait in a designated  area, where members of the special assitance company will come and collect you for boarding. 

Different airports and airlines have different boarding policies, some will board you first, others last, sometimes there is some cross over with other passengers so be careful and clear that once on board you do not want to be stuck in a cue as others stow their bags. This is why you are usually boarded first or last. To get onto the plane you have the option of walking up the steps if you are able to or to use a special lift. Once you're up you can then choose whether you walk to your seat or use a specialist wheelchair that will fit down the ailse. The lift will be used at the back of the plane for reference on how far you will have to your seat. Think about the size of the plane you are on. Last year I choose not to use the lift and was boarded at the front of the plane, our seats were towards to centre but it was still quite a walk, luckily by that point everyone was sat down and I had help of one of the ground crew to lean on. Funnily enough there had been some mix up between the airline and special assistance company, so the gate manager was wondering where the heck 7 passengers were and a wheelchair to go in the hold. A few more minutes and they probably would have had to have took our bags off the plane. I was just grateful that everyone else was sat down and the aisle was clear.

In terms of your seats again it varies between airlines. Some have specific seats that have moving armrests on the aisle seat for easy transfer and slightly more leg room. These seats will be reserved for you at no extra cost. When we flew out last year I was lucky as we got 2 rows between 4 of us, so I could stretch out my legs. it is dependant on how many passengers there are. Other airlines will allow you to book seats where you like, other than on an emergency exit for safety reasons. Of course it can also be dependant on what class you are flying.

I mentioned there about wheelchairs going into the hold. If you are taking your own wheelchair, which you can do free of charge then it needs to get tagged at check in. You can stay in it until you are on the plane and then it gets put in the hold. Once you arrive at your destination it will be taken out first and be ready for you to get into. If you are using the lift you will usually sit in one of the special assistance chairs until you are on the ground and can be transfered into your own chair. One thing to note if you are taking your own wheelchair is that if you have any tools for your chair tell security so that they can be put into your tray to be scanned. 

It is also possible to use a scooter but there are different rules about types and batteries, which can be read in each airlines policies below. The same applies for powered wheelchairs. Sometimes you will need to give dimensions when you book to assure there is room in the hold. All airlines are supposed to give an allowance of 2 pieces of special assistance equipment to go in the hold, unless the flight starts or ends in America in which case there is no limit.

There is a range of other in-flighg services available too depending on your airline and often destination. For example an onboard wheelchair for access to the toilet. On board oxygen. Specialist meals for different dietary requirements. Captioned entertainment on longer haul flights. Again it is always best to ring up the airlines special assistance helpline who can taylor requirements to your needs.

Here is a list of a number of airlines special assitance pages click on the names to be taken to the page.

Thomon Holidays as Thomson is a holiday company they also have more information about assistance requirements needed at your resort or onboard one of their cruises.

Stay tuned for the next installment, all about medication whilst travelling.

Please share your experiences if you have ever used special assitance to go abroad or have any more tips to share.

Sian x

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Charity Jewellery

Whilst I'm working on some more posts and making slow progress on them I thought that in the interim I would share with you some of the jewellery that I have made. All the jewellery in the photos below have been made for M.E awareness, blue being the colour of M.E awareness and purple for Fibromyalgia. Half the proceeds from all sales goes into the just giving account for out Princesses and M.E event. Raising money for Invest in M.E, a charity raising awareness and funds for biomedical research, a centre of excellence to treat patients and better education about the illness. All matters that are close to us M.E sufferers hearts.

So take a browse at my jewellery and if you would like to order something then leave me a comment or contact me on Twitter. What's more anyone that donates to our cause and this includes purchasing jewellery is entered into a prize draw to win elf cosmetics, a hug box or a hamper of traditional sweets. This is thanks to some amazing people who are gladly helping us spread the word.

Donations can be made here to anyone on the team page to be entered into the draw as long as you include your name, so that we can trace you.

Hopefully I'll have some more posts up soon.

Sian x