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8 Ways to Prepare for a Day at a Theme Park If You're Chronically Ill

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This Sunday I went to a theme park for the day. I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and chronic pain, and these conditions can make going out and about difficult. Here is what I did to help:

1. Email the venue to check about queue jumping. I can’t stand for a long time so chose to queue jump for my health. This leads to the inevitable looks from people, questioning why you need to queue jump – but remember, your health comes first.

2. Check the parking. Sometimes disabled parking means accessible. I need close parking as I can’t walk too far. If a car park is further away but wheelchair accessible, it doesn’t help me and I need to make alternative arrangements!

3. Pack a lunch. there is no way to queue jump in a lunch line, so unless you have a kind friend or family member who is willing to queue for you, then take your own lunch and snacks. I took my own lunch and then my husband very kindly queued for my coffee.

4. Remember where the bathrooms are and gage queues. If you are like me and need the toilet within half an hour of drinking, you need to make sure the queues aren’t too long, as other people won’t understand that you may be more desperate than them – or that you can’t queue or wait. You need to make sure you are very prepared.

5. If you need to sit down, sit anywhere. I sat on curbs, bollards, the grass and in a little woodland. If you have an invisible illness, you likely won’t be offered a bench so you need to be dressed in a way that you can just sit when you need to! Don’t worry about being in the way of people if you need to sit down.

6. When you get home, stretch and have a warm bath. You might feel OK, but in the morning you might regret it!

7. If you go on rides, be sensible. You may have a queue jump, but stick to the trains and teacups. You may think a rollercoaster is OK as you don’t have to queue, but being bumped around when you have a chronic illness can be really bad for you. I went on one intense ride and definitely regret it as now, three days later, I still can’t open a bottle. My hands are useless and my husband is having to carry the baby up and downstairs today!

You know your body, so if you need a break, take a break.

8. Remember that it is great to go out and have fun, but you are important and so is your health. Don’t be afraid to call to ask for help from a venue or ask help from family and friends. I am so achey today, and although I am glad I went out three days ago and enjoyed myself, I had to make sure I was free the rest of the week. After visiting a theme park and then walking the baby in his pram two days later, I now have my mum over-caring for me and my baby as I physically have nothing left.

Thinking of all my chronic illness warriors as I write this, hoping that you stay strong, have fun and plan for adventure!

Getty Image by RossHelen

Originally published: June 20, 2018
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