The Tricks That Made Air Travel Easier for My Daughter

Lori Dunham avatar

by Lori Dunham |

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Most lives have been interrupted by the events of the past two years. People across the globe have had to cancel plans, miss family reunions and weddings, curb travel, and limit contact with others. Our family has been no exception. Most notably, during the pandemic, our eldest son moved to the West Coast after graduating from college and then got married.

The wedding ceremony looked very different from what we had anticipated, including the fact that we were unable to attend. So, when the opportunity arose for us to make the journey out to California and celebrate a vow renewal with our son and daughter-in-law, we jumped at the chance.

This meant traveling by air with our 16-year-old daughter, Grace, for the first time since her diagnosis of Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS).

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I had a few concerns, including keeping track of Grace’s medicine, taking a red-eye flight, and maneuvering the airport.

Following are a few things I did to help alleviate those concerns and make air travel as easy as possible for Grace.

Take an ample supply of medicine

We all know that plans can change, especially when dealing with air travel. Our biggest concern was having enough medicine for Grace should our flights change and delay our arrival home. I brought enough medicine to cover four extra days of travel in case of an emergency.

We also packed the medicine in a way that allowed us to always have it on hand. We kept the extra meds in a separate location, so if a bag went missing, we would still have a supply.

Grace relies heavily on her medicine, and I knew it was essential that we keep her on a normal schedule.

Request wheelchair assistance

The airlines were great at fulfilling our request for wheelchair assistance at the airports. They did require their employees to push the wheelchair at all times. This was cumbersome when our gate changed three times. But overall, it was a great experience, and Grace welcomed the help.

Additionally, another LEMS friend suggested I give Grace tip money so she could feel empowered by tipping those who helped her. This got a bit pricey, because we needed multiple wheelchairs during each leg of our trip, but it was money well spent.

Build in extra time

Building in a margin for error was helpful on all legs of our trip. We made sure we left for the airport with plenty of time. We had to wait more than most, but we were stress-free knowing we had plenty of time to take bathroom breaks or wait for assistance.

Get plenty of rest after traveling

The key to making this trip work for Grace was squeezing in some rest days for her. Dealing with jet lag after a red-eye flight was our biggest concern. There was simply no way around it. We decided that once we reached our destination, we would allow Grace to opt out of activities if she felt tired or needed rest. After both travel days, we made sure Grace was able to sleep in and rest the majority of the time. This gave her the energy she needed to make great use of her time the rest of the trip.

Overall, the trip was a success. It was so important for Grace to see that she can still travel, see new places, and experience exciting things. She was able to take a boat ride under the Golden Gate Bridge and play games with her brother and his friends. Grace was able to be in her brother’s official wedding ceremony and eat some of our favorite foods.

Although it was exhausting and pushed Grace out of her comfort zone, we feel like Grace conquered air travel.


Note: Lambert-Eaton News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lambert-Eaton News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Lambert-Eaton myasthenia.


Joyce Crawford avatar

Joyce Crawford

You have some great information here. I hope to travel back to Australia to see my son & his family when Covid allows. I am very bad about pushing myself too much, though. I can't seem to remember that my body will fight back when I do so. Reading your & Grace's experiences really helps me to accept that I must conserve my energy as much as possible, to be able to then do other activities. I am so glad that your trip went well for you both and as you said, you can now see other possibilities, in spite of the LEMS. Keep up the articles. Joyce

Lori Dunham avatar

Lori Dunham

Thank you so much Joyce. It was so encouraging to know that, with a little planning and extra time, our family can still travel and keep Grace healthy. I sure hope you can one day travel back to Australia and see your son and his family. I sure enjoy hearing from you!


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