A trip to Walt Disney World is a dream come true for millions of people. It is also a trip mired with details: where to stay, what parks to visit, what attractions to experience, where to eat. The list is endless. When planning a trip to the world you have to consider every moment of your day. Magic Bands and ADR’s are now crucial to having a successful Disney Vacation. You know you will be able to experience Space Mountain because you reserved your spot in the queue months in advance. You know you will enjoy that delicious macaroni and cheese at Chef Mickeys because you have made your dining reservations many months ago. You can schedule your flights. You can book your hotel. What you can’t control is when your chronic pain will strike. People who live with chronic pain live a day to day life, wondering when misery will strike. When the pain comes, life has to stop for the moment. What do you do when the worst happens: you are miserable at the happiest place on earth.
Chronic pain encompasses a list of ailments: it can be mild or debilitating, episodic or continuous. Most people suffer from migraines, joint pain, backaches, carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia. People with chronic pain experience anxiety and depression because they know that pain could ruin their vacation. So what do you do if you really want to have a Walt Disney World vacation but you know the possibility of chronic pain could derail your plans. My suggestion is far from a solution; to the extent you can, schedule time for the pain.
Having a strategy that will help you during a chronic pain attack can greatly ease your vacation in the parks. Start from the very beginning of the trip. Is there a time of year where your pain is reduced? By keeping a diary of your chronic pain you can tell if your pain is worse during certain times of the year. Check to see if those times match your available vacation time.
Select lodging close to the parks. It will be more expensive to stay at the Contemporary Hotel than staying offsite. However, when you are in the throes of a migraine, think about how sweet the solace will be when you can lie down in a quiet room quickly. You may be able to return to the park after just a short time of convalescing. Having quick access to your hotel room will alleviate not just your pain (hopefully) but also ease your anxiety about missing out on your vacation. Imagine escaping to your serene hotel room allowing your body time to smooth away the pain.
Speaking of smoothing away the pain, Disney offers many spa treatments that might help. It might not be on your list of ‘must-do’ experiences but having a massage can greatly relieve the stress you’re experiencing from having pain while on vacation. Just think of the massage as part of the Disney experience.
Pay attention to what you eat and when you eat and how long you eat. It is very tempting to scarf down a burger to keep the vacation going. You know your body best. If you know a headache can happen, then ensure it doesn’t by keeping hydrated and eating well and staying away from triggers. Factor in the time it will take to eat a sit down meal. You may have to sacrifice an attraction or a great spot for a parade. The trade off may be worth it if you can relieve your symptoms because you took the time to sit and eat your meal.
Schedule a ‘do nothing’ day. Think about spending an unstructured day. Ride the monorail to hotel hop. Sit by the pool and read a book. It may sound like a waste of time when time is expensive on a Disney vacation. It reality, people with chronic pain have just to have realize they can’t visit the parks ‘commando style.’ I would love to be at Magic Kingdom gates at sunrise, experience the park for the whole day until fireworks at night. Twelve plus hours in the park could be a nightmare for a chronic pain sufferer.
In summary, when you visit Walt Disney World and you are someone that suffers from chronic pain, there are ways to have a great vacation while minimizing catastrophe. Make sure you pick the time of year where your pain isn’t as intrusive. Find a hotel that works best for you if you know you will need a dark and quiet spot for several hours. Make a list of restaurants that have the foods you need to energize and feel great. Seek out a spa for a stress relieving massage. Plan for down time. Take a morning, an afternoon, or maybe the whole day where nothing is planned. See how you feel that day and then make a decision: sit by the pool or shop in the boutiques. Chronic pain can alter your life as you already know. But it doesn’t have to ruin your Walt Disney World Vacation.