View Full Version : Travel?

01-10-2008, 03:45 PM
Hey everyone,

I wondering if I'll be ready to fly by February 20th. My surgery was nearly 6 weeks ago on December 3rd. Right now, my back isn't terribly painful, rather the muscles get tired and I struggle with energy and stamina. ? The flight will be about 3.5-4 hours, from Boston to Dallas. I'm going to be sure to book a direct flight.

When were you comfortable flying? Am I being reasonable in planning this trip?


01-10-2008, 04:04 PM
Vndy--how fun! :D I flew at 4 months, had my husband with me, and managed ok. I know you are younger and probably doing much better than I did at that point. It's so hard to know. I had a couple hours of travel to get to the airport (O'Hare), then all the rigmarole of checking in, etc., then about a 2 hour flight to New Hampshire--and another 45 minutes to where we were staying. It was great to get out and do something fun, but I did tire easily. One pointer that I hadn't thought of in advance-- you have to take your shoes off when they check you-- fortunately I had slip-ons on... but if my husband hadn't been there, I wouldn't have been able to pick them up to put them on the conveyor belt. I would have had to ask someone to help me, :eek: which I don't like to do! I mentally checked off in my mind to have easy access to my reacher in the future. It was packed away in my checked suitcase. Canes and reachers are allowed for you to carry on. Also, I sat in the middle seat, with my husband having the window seat. An aisle seat would be easiest to get in and out of. I don't know if any of this is a help or not... ask me any questions that come to mind--or pm me. Maybe I'll think of something more too.

01-11-2008, 07:52 PM
Hey vndy,

Long time no talk to! I definitely think you'll be ready by then. I flew less than 3 weeks after surgery, Seattle to Anchorage, then drove home (another 2.5-3 hrs). Of course, it was horrible at the end, but I'm 99% sure that's because of the oxycontin (motion sickness), and because it had been less than 3 weeks!

You can probably maximize comfort by walking in the airport pre-flight, and make sure to get up from your seat once or twice. It'll be fine!

01-11-2008, 08:41 PM
EEK! I have surgery 2/18 and 22. We're planning on taking our grand-daughter to Mexico end of the summer. My problem with flying is I don't handle it well unless I can constantly watch out the window (even if its dark), hmm I don't know how well I'll do if I need to sit in an aisle seat. Maybe we'll be lucky and not have a full flight. Hope your trip is nice, at least you'll be traveling to nicer weather :)

01-11-2008, 09:41 PM
Go for it! It will be a big day, but you can do it. You need to think about how long it takes to get to the airport, check in bags, wait, board, wait, fly, wait, get bags, drive.... considering all that is 'up' time, you'll need to be pretty good in terms of pain and fatiuge. I'm the queen of rushing stuff, so I know how keen you are to go! As long as all the travelling doesn't make you too sore to get the most out of your trip.

01-11-2008, 10:00 PM
Well, the good news is the tickets are booked. The bad news is we had to get connecting flights. The layovers are only about an hour, but I figure that will give me time to get up and walk...

Thanks for the advice - any other tips are appreciated!

01-12-2008, 10:05 AM
Keep your letter from your doctor handy in case you encounter an idiot at the screening area. I had hell getting into a courthouse a couple of weeks ago. I even showed the dumbass my scar....He swore I must have something metal in my jacket....beware the incompetence...........have fun, I am sure you'll do fine.

01-12-2008, 08:11 PM
The layover may actually be a blessing, I flew to Texas at 5 months post op and I don't think I could of done it with out a layover...I was not very comfortable on the plane and getting off and moving around really helped. Also leave a little extra time for security. I set off the alarms every time and was pulled aside for up to 30 min.

01-13-2008, 01:06 AM
I've never set off the metal detectors at the airport! Gutted! (well, apart from actual metal things I had on my clothing) Perhaps the over-the-top security in the USA would mean the metal detectors are super-sensitive and could pick it up. Maybe with the new extra metalware I have I could trip them. Not that it's a good thing to be held up. I'd hate to be strip searched!

01-13-2008, 10:41 AM
Not only am I traveling Feb 20... but we've planned another trip Feb 1-3. That's 2 months post op for me. I'm clinging to the fact that geo did it at 3 weeks! Besides a pillow and pain pills, anything else I need?

01-13-2008, 01:13 PM
memory foam matress! I shudder at the thought of sleeping in an unfamiliar bed with the sensitivity I have on my back.

Alma in Alaska
01-14-2008, 07:11 PM
Vindy if you can get a thin memory foam mattress topper and fold it in thirds and put it in a body pillow case(they are longer)it makes all the differents to be able to sit in the seats for long periods of time,the only problem with sitting in the iles is the other people in that row may get up and down a lot which means you will be getting up and down alot. Let the stewardess know about your back and ask if there is a row empty if you could use it ,they are very happy to help.

01-30-2008, 04:57 PM
Hi and good luck on your upcoming travel. I have traveled to and from Boston and DFW 3 weeks after surgery and ~7 weeks after surgery. I echo the replies of the others and recommend allowing extra time at security and taking some padding to sit on. I usually take a trash bag with me to put my pillows and brace in as I approach the security line. Later, I put the trash bag on the seat of the rental car and use it to help me pivot turn easily in and out of the car. Also, if you travel with an external bone growth stimulator, I recommend putting that in checked baggage. If possible, have someone drop you off at the terminals so you don't have to endure bumpy rides on shuttle buses. Although the shuttle bus ride to the rental car area from DFW was not too bad, the ride between the terminals at DFW was quite bumpy.

02-03-2008, 09:50 PM
Hi all,

I just got back from my first trip post-op, and it went well. I brought a bed pillow to put behind the plane, and I think that made all the difference. I was actually very comfortable. On the way there we had a connection, and had to deal with delays and while my muscles were sore by the end, I wasn't in pain. The direct flight on the way back was fine too. I did my best to walk before, between, and after flights - that may have helped me too.

As well as it went, I want to emphasize I could NOT have traveled alone. My (dear, wonderful) boyfriend carried my suite case, did all the lifting into overhead bins, and literally watched my back so I didn't get bumped when we went through crowds.

Oh, and I didn't set off the metal detectors!

02-04-2008, 09:24 AM
I'm so glad your traveling went so well! I have a trip planned for November, almost a full year post op, and I am concerned about comfort on that 5 hour flight! I hadn't thought about bringing a pillow, but now I will keep that in the back of my mind if I still need pillows just to sit in the car by then.

How were your sleeping conditions? Was the bed comfortable enough for your new back? I made sure to book in a place where I already knew the bed was comfortable so that isn't a concern.

And a little off topic, but have you adjusted to driving yet? I am still not comfortable driving where there is more than a single lane in each direction. Even with the blind spot mirrors the thought of not seeing someone coming around the side of my car and me hitting them scares me. Hope all is well with you. Take care.

02-04-2008, 09:27 AM
Don't be embarrassed to ask for mobility assistance at the airports, esp. if you have a connecting flight at the opposite end of a huge airport. In Philadelphia, my flight landed at terminal F and my connecting flight left from A.... each terminal has i think 25 gates.... there was NO way i could have managed my carry-ons and gotten there in time. I asked for assistance and there was the sweetest little old fellow waiting for me with a wheelchair when i stepped off. He knew all the shortcuts to the front of the lines, didn't mind asking people to move aside, told me what paperwork to have ready at the next stops...helped me thru security ... he was absolutely great.... (earned a generous tip, too!)

Just ask for help. They want you to.... and don't be shy about it.

02-04-2008, 10:12 AM
I'm so glad your trip went well vndy! :D I didn't set off any metal detectors either.

Geish--and anyone else planning a trip... Regarding pillows on the flight--if/when I go on another, I will definitely take my own--at least a little neck bolster type one. Don't figure on using the airline one--it just doesn't always happen. :mad: I have discovered that my back doesn't conform to the way those airline seats go--in a sort of a gentle "c" shape with the neck a little forward. They are so uncomfortable to someone with a pretty straight, non-flexible back--we have great posture, but can't relax it any! If you try to sit back, it pushes your head forward. :eek: I asked for one of the little flight pillows and was told they were all out! About an hour later I asked again, explaining that I had a medical problem--and my husband was really put out when I was again told they didn't have any... fortunately someone a seat or two away heard and gave me theirs, so it ended up a little better for the remainder of the flight. By the way, it wasn't some little airline--it was United.

The seats in my van also curve that way, but not as bad. Plus you're not usually confined for so long!

vndy--just curious--did you have any problem with your shoes in going through security? Did your boyfriend deal with picking them up for you? Or any other tidbits for others that you can think of? Is your next trip in a few more weeks? Have fun! :)

02-04-2008, 12:51 PM
Vndy - I'm so glad your trip went well for you! It is nervewracking the first time flying after this surgery, wondering if the detectors will go off and how comfortable/not comfortable you will be on the plane.

Speaking of travelling, my boyfriend and I will be going to Peru in March! I believe this proves I am off my rocker, so to speak, since we will be getting there from ALASKA, but I'm hoping to take advantage of the time between flights to stretch out and walk around. Has anyone done much foreign travelling after surgery? I'm wondering how 30 hours of travelling felt (specific to your back -- I know the rest is crap!) I also worry a little about explaining this surgery to foreign security folks if the detectors go off in Bogota or Lima.

Also wanted to say I second bringing your own pillow. And, I used one of those little seat wedges, which helps your butt not sink down and back into the seat.

02-04-2008, 02:50 PM
Alicia - Susie is exactly right about why the pillow is so important. Particularly because I'm "petite" (okay, SHORT) the shape of the chair is NOT the shape of my body (even before surgery. The pillow really solved that problem. Regarding sleeping, I was comfortable in the hotel bed. It was really wide, so I'd have to log roll multiple times to get towards the center, but I slept very well. Driving still makes me nervous too. I change lanes VERY slowly, to give anyone in my blind spot time to get out of the way. I'm also driving slower than usual, because getting in an accident is just terrifying. That said, I think I'm more comfortable than I was 2 weeks ago... slow and steady progress I guess?

Susie - Oh, shoes! I made the mistake of wearing cowboy boots (thinking they take up so much room in suitcase, I may as well wear them). While it was a bit awkward, I've gotten fairly competent at balancing on one leg and lifting the other up in order to take of my shoes, and I was able to do that with the boots. I did have to sit down to put them back on though. My boyfriend had helped me, though, when I've struggled with them (he calls me Cinderella!). The only other "tidbits" I can think of... keep in mind pre-boarding is an option - while it may not be totally *necessary* it does mean getting off the plane sooner! I preboarded on one of our flights, but decided it wasn't worth it for me. Also, I packed my carry-on VERY light. I took out some things that I usually care with me, like my medicines, camera, and a book "just in case" I wanted it and packed those in my rolling bag (which my boyfriend handled). All I really had was an Ipod, our tickets, wallet, and keys, and a few other incidentals. I think that made a big difference for me.

You'll also laugh at the fact that I called my surgeon's office to ask his assistant (who is always wearing the greatest shoes) whether or not heels would be harmful for me. We decided that the stillettos should wait a while longer, but lower heels or wedges were fine.

Geo- Peru! WOW! I'm jealous! We had a layover between our flights in one direction, and I took the time to pace the terminal. I also was sure to walk while we were waiting for our flights, which may have helped me out. Have an AMAZING time!

Our next trip is in 2 weeks, when we'll go to see my boyfriend's family. I also have my 2 month post op tomorrow... eek!

02-04-2008, 03:26 PM
I can just imagine cowboy boots! What fun! And now you're talking stillettos??? Ah, to be young and foolish--and able! ;) You also had me laughing about logrolling several times to get to the center of the bed... :D Tell us how your appt. goes tomorrow. I'm still wondering when I'll get released to do a little more... my 10 month appt. is in March. And yes about the pillows--it's not that I needed it for my head--it's for the upper back through neck area... I never considered myself to be short--used to be 5'4.5" (and still think of myself that way)--but had shrunk to a little under 5'2". Now I'm back to a little over 5'3"... but even when I was the "taller" me, I had a short torso. With the scoli, it got even worse. They just don't make car/vehicle seats one size fits all comfortably.

Gosh, geo, that's a L-O-N-G flight... I don't have any tips for you other than stretching and changing position and walking around some. Two of my three daughters have been on long ones (China, Australia, Sri Lanka, etc.,) but they don't have the medical problems... Maybe you can start a new thread so it can catch people's attentions. Surely there are some post-ops that have gone on long flights. It might be worth a try, anyway. :)