September 16, 2013

Traveling with Parkinson's: Part 3 ("Show and Tell")

Mesh Bags Are Great
I use mesh bags every time I pack for a trip. They keep me organized when packing and they make it easy to stay organized in hotel rooms or ship cabins. Here are the bags I used on this summer's European tour:

I got the Lenovo Ultrabook just before the trip. I'd used a Mac in Alaska, but it was heavier and bulkier and -- worst of all -- it proved to be too much of a new trick for this old Windows dog. The Lenovo was a better choice for me . . . once FedEx delivered the cord I'd forgotten to our Paris apartment.

Speaking of cords, the two mesh bags at left show how the electronic age has changed my packing habits. I no longer stash paperback books in my bag. Instead, I put the Kindle in my carry-on (with my digital camera and iPhone). But the space I save not packing books is taken up instead by cords, plugs, adapters, and battery chargers for the electronics. The blue bag at left contains the battery charger, other camera gear, and adapter plugs for various European countries. The black bag contains cords and chargers for the Ultrabook, Kindle, camera, and iPhone. The two bags on the right are for pills and toiletries. I like being able to just toss these bags on the bathroom counter in the hotel or ship's cabin.

Pill Organizer Choices
For long trips, many travelers like the universal organizer on the right. It just doesn't work well for me.   

I take four pills for my Parkinson's every day: 5am, 11am, 5pm, and 11pm. I have no problem taking my wake-up and bedtime pills; the mesh pill bag I keep on the the bathroom counter reminds me. My problem is remembering my "middle" PD pills (at 11am and 5pm), and then an hour later remembering if I took the pill! I'm often out and about at those times, so the big pill organizer on the bathroom counter doesn't help. 

So, here's what I do: each night, I put tomorrow's four pills in the small blue pill-splitter at left. If I go out during the day, I slip this container in the pants pocket with my keys. If lunchtime rolls around and I wonder if I remembered to take my 11am pill, I simply check the little blue container. At 7pm, if I wonder if I took my 5pm pill, I check the container. It works for me.

Other Travel Aids
Here are several other items that found their way into my luggage for the European trip:

As it turned out, I didn't use the collapsible cane in Europe, since we walked mostly on easy, level city streets. I put it to good use three years ago in Turkey, where I often explored on difficult, uneven terrain.

Regent Cruise Line provided the little packet for our ship photo ID card. I had my wallet stolen as I boarded a train in Naples years ago, and I now suspect an elderly man staggering around would appear a prime target for pickpockets. So I dispensed with a bulky wallet on this trip. Instead, I put my credit card, bank ATM card, and a photocopy of the main page of my passport into the little Regent packet, which I carried in one pants pocket. I carried a little cash in the other pocket. I liked the arrangement, which I'll use again.

I've become obsessive about monitoring my blood pressure. Readings have warned me when my medications are starting to cause a problem, or when something else is affecting my health. The little wrist blood pressure monitor isn't as accurate as a more cumbersome upper arm device, but it packs easily and allows me to indulge my compulsion while I'm on the road.

The little red container is a sunscreen spray. The size of a pen, it requires almost no precious suitcase space. I just wish I could remember where I got it! My local CVS doesn't stock it, and a quick internet search proved unsuccessful.

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