Traveling as a Stroke Survivor may seem overwhelming, but here are some traveling tips to make it all less stressful and more fun. I’ve compiled these from my own experiences. I hope you find these traveling tips after having a stroke to be helpful.
Talk to your doctor
This is a first for everything for us Stroke Survivors. But it’s true for most others as well. Make sure you’re healthy for travel and have all the required/recommended vaccines for your destination. Or, if you have significant anxiety about the flight, your doctor may be able to prescribe something to help. Keep in mind, however, getting up to walk around will help your circulation, so you don’t want to be passed out the entire flight.
Wear compression Socks
Compressions socks are essentially knee high socks with varied level of tightness. They help to increase the blood flow in your lower legs, ultimately reducing the risk of blood clots and swollen feet from flying. These bad boys are helpful for anyone on a long haul flight, but particularly important for Stroke Survivors.
Try a hooded neck pillow
This gem was the direct result of a Buzzfeed list, and I have zero regrets. I got one for both myself and my fiance. The neck pillow part is inflatable, so while you’re not on the plane it doesn’t take up too much space in your luggage (like a memory foam version would). International flights are ALWAYS cold, so the hood really helps with that. And it also helps with blocking out light. Plus, the extra layer to help block out sound all make for a good snooze. text amazon link
Communicate with whoever you’re traveling with
Let everyone you’re traveling with know your limits. Can you only walk a certain amount before needing breaks? Do you generally hit full fatigue by 5pm and need to settle in for the night? Do stairs need to be limited? Can you not horseback ride or ride rollercoasters? All of these things are perfectly fine to voice, and if you voice them ahead of the trip everyone will *hopefully* be aligned to avoid any tension and frustration.
Make a Plan
We all hope you don’t need one. But you do need a plan no matter what.
Educate EVERYONE you’re traveling with on the signs to watch for that would indicate they need to call for help. Also, have a plan ahead of time for how that should be executed. Make sure everyone has that plan. Include phone numbers and ways to contact key people.
Buy Travel Insurance
All booked? Congrats! Now make sure to research and purchase travel insurance if you’re planning a trip that if you had to miss wouldn’t throw thousands of dollars out the window.
Travel insurance definitely put my mind at ease for my first international trip post stroke. I still had a daily fear that I could experience another stroke.
Travel insurance is good for all sorts of reasons beyond the biggest and scariest. My sister sprained her ankle very badly just days before her honeymoon, but didn’t have trip insurance! Incase something comes up where you can’t travel at all, you’ll be able to cancel and not have wasted all that money.
Review your medical coverage
Be prepared should you need to see a doctor or go to hospital. Know how your medical coverage works when you travel. The phone call is well worth it!
Pack a Pill Box
Have your pills in a daily pill box so that you’re sure to take the medicine you need, even though your schedule may have shifted with time zone changes. The visual answer of “did I take my meds?” is very helpful.
Airplane seats can keep you very still and crammed. Get up and walk around! I typically add to this and walk back towards the bathrooms when it’s not crowded and do some stretching. This will help with circulation and nerves.
I hope you found these traveling tips after having a stroke to be helpful. Now go out and book! Considering a stay at an AirBnb? Check out my thoughts on having the best AirBnb experience.
My mission for Stroke of Colors has always been to connect to other young stroke survivors and form community. I felt extremely isolated going through my stroke and recovery and feeling that I didn’t belong in the community. But, we are out there! So, let’s join forces for good and support each other. AND the caregivers too!
Join the community for Young Stroke Survivors and Caregivers
This wpost is entirely unedited to show how my isseus with using my left sidde are manageable but still super frustratin.
My stroek was on my right sideof my btain so it effects the elft side of my body. My recovery was pretty miraculous ansd I’m super blsssed to not have larger defecits.
Still, one issue i have is typing. Espeicially as I get tired my let hand jsut lags or doesnt have the stregnth in a finer to hit the key I’m looking ffor so it takes along time t o get teh result that I’m looking for.
A majoiity of my jo b involves typing, so this level of correction is cumbersom and slows my work down quite a bit. It has helped me to encouage coworkes to stop by and have a convo instad of only messaging.
Other smaller things thsi effects is waving or clapping. I can’t clap on beat nad when i wave with my lfeft hand I feel like an idiot, teh cadnce is just off.
This post is entirely unedited to show how my issues with using my left side are manageable, but still super frustrating.
My stroke was on my right side of my brain so it effects the left side of my body. My recovery was pretty miraculous and I’m super blessed to not have larger deficits.
Still, one issue I have is typing. Especially as I get tired my let hand just lags or doesn’t have the strength in a finger to hit the key I’m looking for so it takes along time to get the result that I’m looking for.
A majority of my job involves typing, so this level of correction is cumbersome and slows my work down quite a bit. It has helped me to encourage coworkers to stop by and have a convo instead of only messaging.
Other smaller things this effects is waving or clapping. I can’t clap on beat and when I wave with my left hand I feel like an idiot, the cadence is just off.
I am a young stroke survivor & this is my story. The night after Christmas 2016 I called Phil (then, my boyfriend) to say goodnight and I remember telling him, “I had a bad brain day.” The funny phrase “bad brain day” found its way into my vernacular after my sister heard a woman say it about a year prior and it became a joke between us. Now, those words haunt me knowing what came next and how on the nose the words were. Bad brain day indeed.
Now, those words haunt me knowing what came next and how on the nose the words were. Bad brain day indeed.
In the next 12 hours I (temporarily) lost the use of my entire left side, flew in a medical helicopter from one hospital to another, signed a paper for treatment acknowledging that in the doctor’s attempts to save my life I may in fact die or be left severely impaired, and ultimately underwent a thrombectomy. It may surprise you that I remember it all– I was coherent until the surgery. I even remember the anesthesiologist.
The honest truth is that until I came home to my apartment in Chicago weeks after my stroke, after my inpatient rehab, I did not know what being a young stroke survivor meant medically. I was too chicken shit to ask. All I knew was that it was a big scary deal and that it was for “old people.”
So when the first hospital told me I was having a stroke and I needed to be “auto advanced” I only asked, “What is auto advance?” And the answer was a helicopter flight to a bigger hospital. So naturally, my reply was “Like a six flags flash pass. Cool!” Why wouldn’t I be making jokes? I was still me and a helicopter flight sounded cool.
The warning signs
The warning signs were there. But I didn’t know them to listen.
I started this blog with two hopes: 1. Be a voice in an underrepresented community of young stroke survivors to offer hope, connection and normalcy. 2. Educate others of signs of stroke to make recovery for independence possible should someone they know need help. I hope this post helps with both points, but let’s knock out the second point right now.
The Signs of Stroke fit into the simple acronym of BE FAST
T- Time is crucial. Call 911.
When dealing with pain I would say I’m pretty strong, but I do vocalize discomfort to try and get through it by groaning or saying OWWWww. But, the pain I was having from a headache the night before my stroke was no match for me, and it broke me down to tears. Also, based on issues I was having with my vision, combined with where my headache was concentrated (behind my right eye), I thought it was something to do with allergy issues. I was out on a farm in Ohio and I have fairly severe reactions to certain pollens.
It wasn’t until I had issues with movement and my face showed droopage that my family realized what was happening. Luckily I was able to get treatment quickly enough, and I was otherwise “healthy” before the stroke which all aided my recovery.
Medical science is incredible.
The surgeons went through a tiny ¼ inch incision in my groin up all the way to my brain to remove my blood clot. When I woke up in the hospital I was trying to figure out if I had brain surgery because they were showing me brain scans.
When I knew I’d be ok
One really strange aspect of my case was that I was spasming and convulsing through my entire body until my surgery and felt so cold. About a day after my surgery, I had a test to establish if I had been having seizures. The seizure test left my scalp and hair full of a nasty waxy goop. The nurses in the ICU were kind enough to give me sponge baths, but the hair situation wasn’t getting any help.
A day after I was transferred out of the ICU and onto the neuro floor I was allowed to take a shower. I’ll take a moment here to acknowledge that its incredible that I was strong enough to stand on my own and shower that quickly (a matter of days) when others work toward this goal over years. I had a nurse help me walk to the shower and stay standing outside incase I had any issues.
The shower was a turning point for me. It was the first time I cried. I didn’t cry because I was scared, or mad, or feeling sad for myself. I cried because I knew I would be okay. Finally, I had done a major life thing, mostly independently.
I cried because I knew I would be okay.
Still,I had no idea what was ahead of me as a young stroke survivor
On Instagram I responded to a friend that “I had a stroke [5 days ago], but I’m getting stronger everyday.” That is incredibly laughable to me know. As if I had a cold and it would only take a few days to be back to my life. And it’s what I actually thought. I was fortunate to think this. The best gift I’ve ever been given is that no one gave me fear when I was in the hospital. So I simply wasn’t fearful.
The best gift I’ve ever been given is that no one gave me fear when I was in the hospital. So I simply wasn’t fearful.
My family was incredibly strong and I’ll forever be thankful for that strength. All I knew when I was recovering from surgery in the ICU was that my family was there smiling. Plus, I could do the small tasks the doctors asked of me, so they ensured me I was going to be fine.
The sobering realization of how fortunate I was to get help as quickly as I did
At my inpatient rehab there was another young woman, also 29, who had suffered a stroke. In the physical therapy room I was walking laps and working on balancing exercises when I was introduced to her. It took me a moment to realize that she could not yet walk. We partnered together for an upper body exercise. I wish now that I had made a stronger connection with that woman to keep in touch. If I had, I would certainly reach out to see how she is now.
Life as a Young Stroke Survivor
Of course that’s not the end of my stroke story. It will effect everything I do, moving forward, including understanding do I want to risk having children. Everyday I get to wake up will continue to be part of my recovery. And I’m so freaking grateful for that and to be a young stroke survivor.
Do you have a stroke story or know someone who has experienced one young? Are you a young stroke survivor? Let’s connect! please share your story!