A goal without a plan is just a wish…

Before the pandemic, I pondered periodic pithy peregrinations to various places around the country. Yet, before I embark on one of these journeys, I must make unexpected arrangements. For a person not living with a medical malady, preparations for a trip are an effortless endeavor. However, it is crucial to be meticulous when making the same provisions for a person with any ailment.

In 1910, Lieutenant General Baden-Powell started the Boy Scouts of America. The motto he used was “Be Prepared,” yet it is not only the Boy Scouts who use this motto, reminding us of the importance of preparedness. We need to be ready for anything in this MS life full of unpredictability, uncertainty, and ambiguity. Therefore, it is crucial for us to carefully contemplate and consider our every move, whether picking, packing, or planning. It is true everyone would benefit from methodically scheduling and booking for an extended excursion. Yet, the mismanagement of time for a Non-MS individual may only cause a minor inconvenience.

For many MSers, time miscalculations can cause extremely adverse outcomes no one wants which to contend with. Some key factors need to be considered when I take a trip, such as the time and reasoning for said travel. These seemingly simplistic standards change everything I need to do to prepare for a plethora of possibilities. All aspects of packing, planning, and scheduling have to be changed depending on the reasoning of the excursion. Of course, it changes how much clothing, medical supplies, and other necessities I will pack. I even need to plan whether I am visiting a person, place, or thing.              

I must keep the weather in the forefront of my mind, focusing specifically on the temperatures I will probably encounter. For example, will it be hot enough for my cooling vest, or will the low numbers on the thermometer deeply dip, demanding winter wear? Also essential is if it is rain, snow, sleet, or hail in the future, it is vital to prepare for any form of precipitation.

Will this be a simple overnight excursion or an expedition, including multiple days that I am planning? There are other issues to examine for each, like the amenities I will stay in are definitely of significant concern. The bed must be lower to the ground for me to transfer to and from the bed safely. It is a requirement there is a shower chair with a back wherever I bathe and a transfer board to aid my transition. The last mandatory item for the bathroom is a toilet that meets ADA height and space requirements for maneuverability.

A map of the area or basic knowledge of the surroundings is valuable information to have. For example, do I know where the closest hospital and pharmacy are compared to where I will stay? Also, since we all like to eat, what is the locale of the non-fast-food restaurants, and are they wheelchair friendly?

These tasks may be overwhelming to the inexperienced, but my wheelchair felt awkward initially and is now second nature. In most cases, one phone call can resolve many issues all at once, while in this connected world, a search for this type of information is straightforward. Finding these facts is like playing hide and seek with a four-year-old as they take minimal effort to find.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail because even Santa Claus makes a list and checks it twice. I am sure the man in red made a few mistakes initially, so do not fear missing something. I learned to Be Prepared in the Boy Scouts and how those two words can rescue you in a tight spot in the Marine Corps. As an MSer, you learn how living by the motto can help save lives.

We must prepare and prevent, not repair and repent.

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