Top Tips to Reduce Pain While Flying: 
CRPS Life Hack
Posted on June 7, 2019
*This is a transcript for the above video

Are you ready to fly away and be on a vacation, but you're slightly terrified of what your CRPS is going to do and how you can handle that. 

Well let me give you some tips.

Hello everyone. My name is Kristi Oen and I am a CRPS Conqueror and the founder of P.A.I.N. Help. I have had CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) since I was 10 years old. So that's 33 years of CRPS and figuring out just what the heck I can do with it. So I've come up with quite a few of my own little CRPS life hacks.

A lot of people are getting ready to start to fly away, have some great vacations but your CRPS can make a difference on whether you decide to travel or just stay home. So let me give you some of my top tips for flying with CRPS.

So my first tip is actually to just prepare. 

The more you prepare ahead of time and have a plan for the airport, for the airplane, for every possibility along the way, the less stress you're going to have.

In case you didn't know, the more stress you have, the more your pain and your CRPS pain usually goes up.

That makes sense because you're putting yourself in fight or flight mode, which is that nervous system reaction where you're just kind of freaking out and your body becomes more tense and constricted. And if you're more constricted, you're reducing your blood flow, which means less oxygen getting in and that feeds your pain factor.

So prepare, prepare, prepare. So how do you prepare? What's the first thing I should prepare for?

Call the Airline's Special Assistance or Disability Hotline

Whether you do your tickets online or you call, usually I do it online and then I call, they have a disability hotline. You can call the disability hotline and ask for a couple specific things. One of the things you absolutely might want to use is a wheelchair. There are times I would try not to use a wheelchair because using it messed with my emotional state but often I would regret not using it or have to get it any way.

Should you use a Wheelchair?

If you're in a wheelchair, then you don't get bumped and touched as much. For me with my CRPS, people touching me caused immense pain. So you can huddle yourself into the wheelchair and you have protection around you so you don't have to worry about that.

The other thing is for most of my life the CRPS was just in legs and not full body. So when you're walking, you never quite know what's going to happen with your CRPS in your leg and how things are going to feel or if you might aggravate it. And how far away is the terminal. So why risk that? Why, why even worry about it, use the wheelchair. You can bring your, your own wheelchair that can then be stored underneath the airplane or you can ask to have one of their wheelchairs and either way you can be pushed by one of their people that you tip a couple of bucks.

Are you taking any medical devices with you?

And then when you're preparing, the other thing is, are you taking any medical devices with you? So for me, a godsend is taking my wellness device with me and using it while I'm on the plane. It increases the blood flow and helps, keep me from swelling up and keeps the pain from going up, etc. So when you are calling the airline or booking your flights be sure to say you are bringing a medical device.

Fun Fact: Medical devices fly for free

I do have a note from my doctor about the medical device just in case, but I've never actually had to show that piece of paper. My medical device flies in the main cabin in it's own carry-on bag for free. I bring it with me on the plane because once again I know that's a lifesaver for me on the plane.

How to get Special Seating on the Plane For FREE

A lot of the airlines now you have to pay to have certain seats, especially the ones near the front. So what we usually do is we buy the tickets online. Then I call, and say I need the wheelchair, I'm bringing a medical device and can you move our seats up near the front? Because walking was difficult most airline will accommodate you for free; your caregiver, and traveling minors.

What is the best seat for you?

With your disability, you will have a chance to pick your seat. Think about what makes you most comfortable. If your CRPS is on your left side or your right side, would it help to be on the right side of the plane, the left side of the plane, a window, or an aisle. Think about what makes it best for you. And then ask for it. Remember you have a condition that can really get aggravated easily, you have a right to be as comfortable as possible.

Don't feel guilty or embarrassed about using the options that are available to you.

If you didn't know about those opportunities, you absolutely want to take advantage of those options.

What are your key CRPS Survival items?

You need to make sure you're bringing the really important stuff, the things you know work to help chill out your body. You want to keep calm, not get aggravated and keep yourself from causes a flare. So what does that mean to you?

For me, I know I would have various pillows and even blankets since I would get cold. With my CRPS I am very texture sensitive so it was important to bring my own that worked for me. Using the pillow to prop my leg I could get some comfort.

So what are your prompts? What are the things that you need to bring on the plane?

100% must have for me was both earbuds and ear plugs. Earplugs, because sometimes with my CRPS I didn't want to hear any noise. Sounds combined with stress where a sure fire way for my CRPS to light up - fire burning sensations throughout my body. And then other times I wanted the music, perhaps a meditation. I have some meditations you can listen to or use meditative music or something relaxing that can help you chill out as well as keep out the noise of the plane and passengers.

What can you do to help before you get on the plane?

I'm not super proud of these, but you got to do what you gotta do sometimes. Drink a little wine on the plane, have your CBD oil, or use your medications. I don't like taking any of those things, but when you have extreme situations, sometimes you have to do what's best for you. You have to weigh taking those things versus maybe going into a flare or things getting much worse. If things get bad you could even ruin your vacation. In the past, it would basically be a couple of days before I could do anything because flying messed me up so much.

Now that I have my wellness device I don't get that kind of setback. You have got to find out what works for you because it's gotta be worth it. Is the vacation worth it if you get off the plane and lay there for days and cry with the pain? I have skipped vacations in the past for this reason. So find your tools and bring them. Make sure you keep them close by on the plane, a CBD oil or spray or something that really helps you like an essential oil. I like using peppermint oil which helps take the edge off the pain by just to smelling it.

Can you bring a travel companion?

If you can have a travel companion that makes life so much easier, somebody can help you, push you, handle things, take the load off, take the stress off.

Another thing that I really like when I'm on the plane is to pump my feet.

So imagine your feet flat and you start pumping them. Moving toes up and down, keeping your heel on the floor. This is going to help with moving the lymphatic system. Moving the lymph in helps reduce some of the swelling and some of the pain that you might get. My CRPS was mostly in my legs and the swelling, oh my gosh, the pain from being swollen was intense. Then the pain when trying to walk. It could be an absolute nightmare.

Make sure when you're flying, like I said, to think about you, what are the things that really help you be more comfortable so that you can enjoy the flight and enjoy your vacation.

The other thing I was going to say is make sure you bring your CRPS card from the RSDSA, I'll have it linked up below so you can print it online or you can get one mailed to you. It's a little card that has information on it about your having CRPS and what that means.

There is also a special card from TSA that you can use to get special assistance. You do need to call 72 hours in advance and print out this card. I was so terrified about TSA. Oh my gosh. What if they want to pat me down or they want me to walk through the thing and it can be painful and potentially cause a flare that could ruin the trip. Where I was touched, it felt like a thousand needles being driven into me and I could feel it for hours and hours and hours. I haven't tried this card yet because I just found out about it.

That's why I'm doing these videos for you guys. I have had CRPS for 33 years and didn't know most of the stuff that I've learned in the last couple of years. So don't want you to go through all the crud that I've had to go through.

Despite all these challenges, living your life is worth it. Use these CRPS life hacks to help you do it.

CRPS can be a challenge whenever you are doing anything. So do the best you can to use these hacks to help you out. Find the things that help reduce your pain and reduce your flares and what work best for you.

And if you need any help or want to check out more stuff, please do. And hopefully you get to live your life again.

I have CRPS Card from RSDSA 

TSA Notification Card: Individuals with Disabilities and Medical Conditions

Organic CBD oil and spray created by a medical doctor: 10% off Code is painhelp
Kristi Oen
630 740 0312

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