As the person in the plane seat in front of me finally leaned forward, my kneecaps were restored to their natural concave shape, as opposed to the pressed flat situation I’d had going on for the previous 45 minutes. I knew I should have paid for a seat with extra leg room. Much like the lady to my left had apparently done with arm room. As I sat contemplating a reasonable rental rate for her elbows to reside in my ribs, I wondered whether everyone else was this tetchy.
Quite possibly; travel discomfort is clearly not exclusive to those of us with M.E. So I felt a bit guilty and selfish for a minute. However, when you’re on-board a 3-hour flight with fatigue, muscle pain and noise-intolerance on the go, maybe I was entitled to feel a bit sorry for myself after all.
I’d bought an eye-mask and neck pillow, and used the hour-delay to download some tunes onto my phone using the airport’s wi-fi. Now, thousands of feet in the air, I figured I’d ‘snuggle’. Earphones in, hood up, mask down… I could be anywhere, cosy, restful… nope. Lots of nope.
First of all, you can’t get comfortable on a plane, particularly with aching limbs. No position works for too long. Secondly, when a chirpy woman starts belting out Que Sara Sara from the back of the plane as the captain announces a 30-minute delay to take-off, you find yourself torn between wishing you still had her energetic optimism and wanting to rip off the pull-down window blind to frisbee at her neck.
Thirdly, shut up. Everyone shut up. Woman on the mic – we have absolutely no idea what you’re gabbling over the speakers. We have the technology that, when I land in Spain, I will be able to have a crystal-clear conversation with my family back in England over a phone or computer, yet we can’t invent something which helps me hear what this stewardess is trying to tell me from 10 feet away.
The noise of the engine, probably long-since blended into the background for most others, is really bothering me. Not that I’m planning to lodge a request for the captain to stop that particular sound.
But the cackling hen party a few rows back definitely need stopping…
No, I’m being a proper Victor Meldrew. I’m lucky I’m not housebound and can actually travel. I need to stop it…
Or at least come up with some better travel management techniques. Of course, it’s not just planes. I recently asked my chiropractor about being comfortable during long car journeys. He said, as expected, to take regular breaks where you can stretch your body out and clear the mind. He also said that, if you’re the driver, adopting a lower steering wheel holding position – as opposed to the traditional 10 and 2 – is better to keep the spine straight.
Then there’s trains and tubes; does getting a seat with a table or the one by the door help?
What other tips can you share to help people with M.E. have more comfortable journeys on different modes of transport? Comment below.
- Extra Reading: Tips from a Spoonie on travelling with a chronic illness on WebMD, and also see the National Fibro & Chronic Pain Association’s top 10 suggestions.