11 September 2016

Coping with RA and Travel by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Author Carrie Fancett Pagels
This has been a busy summer with more travel than I've been able to do in a long time. Part of that is because PTL!!! I can walk again! My third PRP procedure last December, seems to have made a big difference in my ability to walk and stand again for much longer periods of time!

So this summer I was able to do a couple of books signings, two library visits (where I was treated so well -- what a blessing!), and got to go visit several people at places where I'd like to sign books or present at next summer or beyond, in Michigan. I donned my pink New Balance tennis shoes and walked all around Mackinac Island. 

I learned a few things. One was that my husband was right about his theory that for me to travel well we'd need to take his big truck and fill up the back with a lot of stuff I need. Like:

My Kindle Fire with my Bible through the Year on it, so I can get into the Word first thing in the morning.
My own very flat pillow (didn't take it to writer's conference later and had to swap out to using a towel!) I have a spinal fusion and degenerative spine so the wrong pillow can cause big problems.
My green tea (I found out for me it lowers my pain about a half level to one full level if I drink it every day.)
My bag full of medications and ointments and patches (like lidocaine patched for my neck) plus supplements that help.
A thick gel foam pillow that I sit on in the truck or when I am in a chair for very long.
Recreational chairs in case I have to sit outside.
My special tennis shoes and orthotics and special sandals.
Ice packs (I use between one to three a night and often during the day use.) These packs can also be heated if need be. 
My glow-in-the-dark plastic water cup which I use during the night (dry mouth is part of the whole RA experience.)
A foam bed topper for my joints in case the rental bed is too hard or too soft.


If you are thinking right about now that I am high maintenance, that would be right! 


Carrie Fancett Pagels and cousin Susan Carey Matheny
One of my coping techniques was also to stop and see friends and family members (like my cousin Susan, pictured right -- she's a newlywed!) along the way. Susie lived for many years in Lansing, which is where my upcoming release "Requilted with Love" in The Blue Ribbon Brides (Barbour, November 2016) is set! 

We tried to keep our legs of the journey to 350 to 450 miles max. It was so wonderful getting to see so many folks, some blog friends I had not yet met in person, like Tina Rice, who has joined us on the Colonial Quills blog! I also got to visit Sister Mary Lou Kwiatkowski and some of her wonderful fellow nuns in Pittsburgh! And author Rita Gerlach, in Maryland, on our return trip.
Carrie Fancett Pagels with Tina St.Clair Rice
GIVEAWAY: Answer this question -- what do you have to do to make travel more manageable for you? One person will receive choice of format for Tea Shop Folly (Forget Me Not Romances, July 2017) and an ebook of O' Little Town of Christmas collection.

Tea Shop Folly (A Teacup Courtship Novella) now available in paperback. One of our commenters will receive a copy of this new novella! 

O' Little Town of Christmas collection is now available with all of the novellas in one ebook. Novellas from the talented Cynthia Hickey, Debra E. Marvin, Becca Withal, Teresa Ives Lilly, and Linda Baten Johnson and myself.
This includes my 2016 Maggie Award published romance novella finalist "The Substitute Bride" (please be praying as mine is the only inspirational finalist and the winner will be announced in October at the Moonlight and Magnolias conference!) 

32 comments:

  1. When travelling I like to take my own pillow with me and comfy shoes and a couple of books. I know you got quite a workout if you walked all around Mackinac Island, it is quite hilly in places. I really enjoy visiting Mackinac Island and the Soo.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Well, truth be told I only walked all around the village, Dianne! Not around the whole island. When I went to the ACFW conference in Nashville, I didn't have all my stuff with me and it was so difficult. I think God was trying to show me something -- like don't fly and take hubs with me whenever possible! Hugs!

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  2. What an exciting time this is ! I will be praying for a win for you !!!
    So love fall and wintertime...can't wait to see all the new books coming
    out and see all the new posts... to me its amazing to see how far you have
    come in such a short time... Wow, when I travel.. I have to take time to get up and walk after riding or driving. I use a back support when I do. I have to walk shorter distances and rest often....
    Blessings
    Linda
    faithfulacresbodysoulspirit@gmail.com

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    1. I forgot to include my tens unit in there, too, Linda. That thing is really helpful. I have the back adjustment in my car seat but not the truck. Thankfully that has good back support. It is amazing, Linda, how I am now walking and doing "normal" things again, but if I do too much then I "pay for it" like this weekend. Hugs!

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  3. I don't travel now because of spinal issues that affect my feet so terribly. I had epidurals this year and also knee replacement. I enjoyed reading about your preparations and will try some of them! I am an avid reader so that passes the time for me. So glad you are doing better!
    jacsmi75 at gmail dot com

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    1. Praying God will enable you to travel again, Jackie. My sis also had knee replacement and I'm praying she'll be able to be up and around more after the second one is done in 2017. Reading and writing do pass the time for me, also! Thanks, Jackie!

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  4. Carrie, thanks for sharing your tips and experiences! I love the sound of a gel cushion for sitting long periods and am going to go look for one online right now! :) You're an inspiration doing all you do with what you go through. So glad you got to do all you did and meet up with so many friends!

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    1. Am considering taking my gel cushion to church with me, Noela. I have severe lower spine deterioration and last week about 15 minutes into the sermon, my legs went numb so I had to stand up during our pastor's sermon for a while. I am grateful for all the travel. Now probably staying home again for a good long while! Hugs!

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  5. As Noela said you are such an inspiration, CARRIE! I just can't imagine handling all the stuff you do and having to cope with chronic pain. I do love the sound of that gel cushion -- we need a link for that one! lol Also something cushiony behind my neck would be nice since I have arthritis in my neck. PTL that you are walking and standing more!!

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    1. I got mine from Kohl's, Diana. It is supposed to be a sleep gel pillow but I use it for a cushion! Oh I forgot about that I have a blowup neck thing that goes behind my neck for travel, too. Yes, PTL I can stand and walk more! God is so good!!!

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  7. Congrats on your nomination! I'm so happy that you found a way to travel safely and comfortably. Mackinac Island is one of my most favorite places. As a Michigander, I grew up camping up there. I love it!

    As for my adulthood travels, my essentials are still pretty simple. I need to remember all of my chargers, my own pillow because hotel pillows are horrid, and a couple of good books to read. I prefer real books as my cheap Kindle doesn't stay charged for very long. There's always downtime!

    I'll be praying for your health and for your book!

    mylittlebirdie (at) yahoo (dot) com

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    1. Hi Karen! Be watching for my Barbour release in July 2017 -- My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island - Maude's Mooring! Thanks for those prayers! Hugs!

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  8. I also need my own pillow for restful sleeping and comfortable shoes because I have had tendonitis is one foot and can have flareups if I walk a lot. I have discovered that aging requires higher maintenance but I have been blessed
    Congratulations and I wish you an Autumn with decreased pain.
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. I have a big fluffy pillow that goes under my legs at home. I don't have trouble finding fluffy pillows at hotels, it is the flat ones that are the issues. Plus I have to have a pillow protector for my asthma. Thanks for those prayers, Connie and including you in mine!

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  9. PTL Carrie, you are able to walk & stand more, you certainly are inspiring sweet friend! It was a thrill for me to finally meet you face-to-face and your charming husband. One day I hope to visit "your" Mackinac Island.

    Like you, I have a lot of things I pack/take with me when traveling...including my New Balance shoes with special made orthotics by my podiatrist (not pink through), a large bag of medications, cervical pillow, my kindlefire, sunglasses, hat if out in the sun, cane for walking any distances & Bible, in addition to clothes & personal care of course. It has only been very recently that I have been able to travel for any length of time.

    Blessings, Tina

    ...p.s...I am not entering the contest...

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    1. Your packing sounds same as mine, Tina. I am grateful that I have been able to put my pink cane up and that I no longer am in a boot nor do I have to wear clogs but can wear enclosed heel shoes again. It was great seeing you in person!!! If you make it down this way be sure to stop by!!! Hugs!

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    2. I forgot a very important thing I pack...my CPAP and distilled water for it.
      Blessings,Tina

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  10. I am so glad having all those things along made the trip to Michigan a wonderful time! God is good!
    I usually take my pillow along when we travel and am sorry when I don't. I even made a travel pillow case to keep it clean.:) If I expect to walk a lot, I take my Asics along as they keep my legs and back from developing any pain. I make sure that I have my vitamins and any other meds I might need along. Now that I have so many problems with arthritis in both thumbs, I unfortunately need to brings splints along for that. Hopefully my list doesn't get any longer.

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    1. When God is in on it things go easier. That sometimes means the spouse God has given us or the loved ones He has surrounded us with may end up helping all that to happen! I pray your list doesn't get any longer, either, Betti! Blessings!

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  11. I am so glad that you are able to adapt and manage your RA and travel some. It is hard to admit that we need help. I still struggle with that as my health changes and I get older. I have kept a pillow at church for my back. I usually sit in the back row so I can move around some without being a distraction. I haven't been doing much traveling except for doctor visits. My husband passed away at the end of July. I imagine that someday I will be able to do some traveling to see the grandkids. I do carry my own pillows when I travel though at one hotel I wasn't allowed to take it in because of the threat of bedbugs. I don't even go to town without my kindle. Keeps me from having to keep a book or three in my car. I'm hoping to get to a podiatrist soon for new orthotics or something to help with nerve pain in my feet. I appreciate you sharing your story. It reminds me that it could be worse for me than it is. Bless you. fishingjan(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Oh Jan, I am so sorry for the loss of your husband! I pray you are going to get through this fine and that God will surround you with ministering angels. Hugs and love going out to you, Jan!

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  12. Congrats on your nomination, Carrie!! I relate to your traveling list, however, mine may be even more extensive as I'm only able to be on my feet for short periods of time. I always have one or more canes with me, I took a portable scooter to Nashville for the week at the CFRR and ACFW conference.

    I, too, take my own pillows (gels - to sleep on and for my neck), pain meds and other meds, laptop, Kindle, tea, etc.. If I'm gone for longer than overnight - such as when I stayed in a hotel in downtown Nashville - I also take nutritional supplements and foods, juicer, water purifier pitcher, etc. so I could make the nutritional smoothies/drinks I drink. Being on a limited budget - it can be a huge added expense if trying to buy the things I need from a hotel (rather than bringing with me) - some of which aren't even available, and difficult to get out to a store to purchase when staying in a busy downtown area and having mobility issues.

    Added to all the above, of course, are numerous changes of clothing and shoes (changes are at times needed to be more comfortable), and personal items (including some necessary due to my mobility issues). My entire car and trunk were full for the Nashville trip, I stayed at more than one place while in Nashville and was so grateful to have friends who graciously loaded and unloaded the car for me at two of the places, as well as put the scooter together and took it apart. At the hotel I paid for valet service, expensive - especially when using for several days, but necessary this time, I felt.

    Since I live alone, my brother loaded and unloaded the scooter and heaviest suitcase into my car when leaving on my trip and again upon returning. It always requires a time to recupe when I return from an outing or trip - packing and unpacking are parts of traveling I dislike, I pace myself with them.

    Yes, traveling is a huge issue and inconvenience, to say nothing of the pain, when one has health issues - however, I have always loved traveling and seeing as much of God's beautiful world as possible. I've done a lot of traveling over the U.S. and on cruises - much of it alone. My ability to travel continues to lessen, I travel little compared to the amount I once did - I want to make the effort to do so for as long as I possibly can, it saddens me to think of a time when I may no longer enjoy, or be physically able, to travel at all. I'm grateful for God's strength and provision for the infrequent times I am able to travel - whether a daytrip, or an extended one.

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    1. PTL God has put people around you to help you, Bonnie. Unfortunately, I didn't have that experience in Nashville which is one of the reasons I had more headaches while there (from lifting my bags.) What a blessing that God has given you all these opportunities to travel, Bonnie!

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  13. P.S. Your accomplishments, while having numerous health issues, are an inspiration to everyone, Carrie - whether it be traveling, writing, or just maneuvering daily life. PTL, you're able to again walk and enjoy more freedom!!

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    1. Yes PTL, I am hoping people feeling discouraged can look at what God does enable me to do and be encouraged by it. I'm just grateful to be walking again and standing!!!

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  14. As you know Carrie, I travel a LOT w/ my husband for his job (almost entirely by plane except for short side trips while in our new location. We are usually gone for 4 weeks & then home for 1 or two weeks before the next trip, which can be pretty much anywhere in the world--and I LOVE it! I even was blessed with one trip where I was near enough to go see my great former neighbor from California after MANY years of not seeing each other! (Waves at Diana Flowers...)
    As to what I take with me--a lot of the same things already mentioned including my own little 'pharmacy'. I usually take enough for 5 weeks when we are going to be gone for 4 weeks--just in case. I like to have my own pillow & small soft/snugly blanket--sometimes those airplanes A/C get COLD! And FYI--when flying, they don't count your pillow as an 'extra carry-on'!
    We try to keep most of our travel with the same airline, so we are allowed 2 - 3 free checked bags, but that MAY be changing thanks to the airline changes.
    Another MUST for us, is NOISE CANCELING HEADPHONES! Those things are such a life savor when you get a screaming child on your plane! One flip of the switch & ALL extra noise (including the roar of the plane) are GONE! We both have Bose, which are expensive, but when you travel on the plane as much as we do, they are a necessity! I also wear support knee highs to help prevent swelling of my varicose veins & if I can find it again--a compression sleeve for my lymphemdema arm (also for help with swelling.
    And of course all my electronic gadgets (phone, iPad, charger, & charging cords etc. I have over 1500 books on my Kindle & I can also write on the plane with my iPad. Also, my laptop and one u might find funny--my scale. With all our travel & eating nearly 24/7 in hotels/ restaurants, we are finding it difficult to maintain our weight & having a scale so we can occasionally 'check-up on ourselves' helps...SOME. LoL
    For anybody who wonders, we usually each take 2 check-in bags plus our carry-owns (including my pillow) when going on a 4 week trip. I usually look for a coin-op laundry & do 1 load of whites & 1 load of colors each week--IF I can find one. Otherwise you may find socks & underwear hanging around our room. ;-)
    Please put me in your drawing--I LOVE reading your books!
    Vicki

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    1. You are quite the traveling lady, Vicki! I always wonder where you'll be off to on your next jaunt around the world! I'm so glad God has given you all these opportunities. Praying for you to have success with your writing, Vicki!

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  15. FYI--we just got home from the Boston area on Sat. Evening & we leave this Sat. AM for Ireland--so excited!!!

    Also, my hubby had his first of 2 knee replacement surgeries the end of May, which grounded us for a couple months, but he was able to return to plane travel about 9 -10 weeks later. Expect maybe the same at the end of the year, or possibly in 2017 when he has the other one done.
    Vicki

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    1. I would love to go to Ireland, Vicki. That is on my bucket list. I've loved the pictures I've seen of Ireland. That is amazing your hubs recovered so quickly! PTL!

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  16. Carrie,
    They said no flying for at least 8 weeks, so it was 9 or 10 weeks until he went from PDX to Vegas (a pretty short trip) for a training seminar/conference. The flying was a breeze, but Vegas was WAY too much walking for him--he ended up having to take a day off & ice it most of the day. Then the Boston area was not bad at all. We will see how that long flight to Ireland goes. They DID tell him he should wear the Ted Hose when flying though--just to stay on the safe side.

    And thanks for the well wishes on my writing. I have not done much of any writing since he had his surgery, but it is time to get back to work. And actually Jon has started working on a sci-fi novel called the Genisis Borg (a Star Trek type novel). One morning during his recovery time he woke up with the memory of a very detailed dream--he said the whole story was all laid out to him in this dream! So, no I will have competition with getting me to help me with mine, when I need it. ;-) I'm laying out an outline for the story between my 'stand-a-lone' & it's prequel, which is turning into a trilogy....

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  17. Carrie, I am so glad you are able to walk and stand longer. I admire you for moving forward even though it is tough at times. Thank you for what you do and the wonderful example you set.

    My feet give me trouble so I must have my orthotics in my shoes or certain sandals.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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