Welcome to my latest podcast episode! In this episode, we are diving headfirst into a world of magic, adventure, and the unique experience of managing multiple chronic illnesses during my Walt Disney World vacation. Join me, The Disabled Diva, as I take you on a journey through this enchanting destination, sharing my personal insights, rest days, and an important health update.
Additionally, we’ll explore the significance of Depression Awareness Month and offer tips for a pain-free Halloween celebration. Whether you’re a fellow chronic illness warrior, a Disney enthusiast, or simply curious about the power of adaptability and support, you’re in for a treat. So, grab your favorite cup of tea, find a comfy spot, and let’s embark on this magical adventure together.
Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I am an Amazon and Walmart affiliate. I may earn a small commission to fund my Disney obsession if you use these links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra and will keep me supplied with Pixie Dust and Mickey pretzels. It’s a win for everyone. I am not a medical professional, and nothing stated in this article should be mistaken for medical advice…
Chronic Pain Travel Products Mentioned
Transcript: S3 E22 What My Magical WDW Vacation With Multiple Chronic Illnesses Was Like
Hello, you incredible chronic pain warrior, and welcome back to another episode of “The Disabled Diva’s Podcast.” I’m your host, Cynthia, and today, I’m about to take you on a journey—one filled with magic, adventure, and a unique perspective on what it’s like to experience Walt Disney World (WDW) with multiple chronic illnesses.
But first, be sure to follow and hit the subscribe button so that you never miss a new episode.
Quick Health Update
Before we dive into today’s magical journey, I want to provide you with a quick health update.
Since September 11, 2023, I’ve been struggling with relentless intestinal pain. (See original ER post here.) Despite my conservative efforts to alleviate the discomfort, the pain persists. It’s become increasingly clear that something is amiss, and my regular doctor is referring me to a gastroenterologist for a more thorough evaluation.
The pain is a constant presence in my life, 24/7. It doesn’t discriminate based on my diet; even the softest foods trigger discomfort. It’s evident that there may be something either internally or externally obstructing the normal flow of waste in several areas.
I want to express my gratitude to all of you who have been sending your thoughts and prayers my way. Your kindness and support mean the world to me, and I truly appreciate it. I hope to have more informative updates to share with you in the near future, so stay tuned.
In other chronic news, I want to remind you that October is Depression Awareness Month. This topic has been buzzing in both my Facebook groups, “The Disabled Diva’s Chronic Pain Community” and “The Psoriatic Arthritis Community hosted by WebMD.” If you’re looking for a supportive community to connect with during this awareness month, please scan the QR code or find the links below.
And guess what, folks? Halloween is just around the corner! If you’re like me and get a bit anxious about the potential for a pain spike or flare that could put a damper on the fun, fear not. Check out my Halloween posts that offer tips and tricks to make your spooky celebration as pain-free as possible. Stay tuned for more valuable insights as we approach this ghoulishly good time of year.
Now, without further ado, let’s continue with our magical journey through Walt Disney World and the unique experience of vacationing with multiple chronic illnesses. Thank you for joining me, and let’s get started!
Day 1: Traveling with Chronic Illness
This trip proved that traveling solo will most likely never be an option for me. I need a caregiver to assist me at the airport and handle communication with airport and airline personnel when pain interferes with my ability to do so. Lucky for me, my husband and daughter are excellent traveling companions who often recognize the areas I need assistance with before I do.
I was incredibly thankful for their help after TSA at LAX separated us and left me alone with no way to see or communicate with them at the security checkpoint. We were lucky that we gave ourselves ample time to get through security because the TSA had me wait 40 minutes in my wheelchair against a wall before they even called an agent over.
Packing for a Chronic Illness-Friendly Vacation
Now, let’s talk about packing. Traveling with fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, adhesions, and an as-yet-undiscovered condition requires some unique packing skills. I brought along items that most people wouldn’t even consider for a vacation, like a hot water bottle, refillable ice pack, cervical pillow, cooling blanket, bedside fan, and a bag full of medications to address as many flare symptoms as possible. There are links above the transcript to help you learn more about the products I brought.
Additionally, my power wheelchair accessories took up most of my carry-on bag space. These included a cup holder, joystick, extra storage bags, and elevating foot extensions—each item vital for my comfort and mobility.
Day 2 and 3: Recovery Time After Flights
After arriving in Orlando, I needed time to recover from the flights. Two full days turned out to be just what I needed. It’s essential I allow my body time to adjust. I did go out to eat twice on day two and once on day three. I also did a little shopping on day two at the Disney Character Outlet Store on Vinyard. But that was it. And because my husband did all the driving, I was able to medicate for the pain my body was experiencing.
Day 4: Our First Walt Disney World Vacation Park Day – Epcot
Monday marked our first park day, and it was all about Epcot! We took advantage of the early morning entry and the after-hour perks that came with our vacation package. It was a LONG day. By the end, my hips, tailbone, and lower back were very angry, and I worried about making it through the next day.
Day 5: Exploring Animal Kingdom
Tuesday rolled in, and I peeled myself from the bed to explore Animal Kingdom. The first two hours were extremely rough on my body. It was at this point that my husband and daughter went off to ride something that my body couldn’t handle. While relaxing with an iced coffee, I remembered that I had a medication with me that I was going to try for the pain in my lower back. After an hour, I was in less pain and ready to explore the park. That night, I went to bed tired and sore but not in severe pain.
Day 6: Magic Kingdom Adventures
Wednesday arrived, and I just wanted to go back to bed. My body was exhausted. But we had breakfast reservations at Cinderella’s Castle, and nothing was going to keep me away from the home of my favorite princess. As soon as we were done, I took the boat back to our hotel and took a nap. I was unsure whether my body would allow me to make it back for our dinner reservations. But I also wanted to get back to enjoy the after-hours perk. Luckily, I woke up feeling pretty good and was able to meet the family before our dinner reservations. We all had a good laugh as my after-nap photos showed a completely different woman from the zombie who came to breakfast!
Day 7: Rest and Fireworks – No Guilt Allowed On This Walt Disney World Vacation
Thursday morning was another rough one, and I slept all day while my husband and daughter went to Disney Springs. Rest days were crucial on this trip. They allowed my body to recover and recharge. Notably, there was no guilt involved. My family understood my limitations, and I didn’t feel like I was ruining their fun by taking a break. This understanding was invaluable and allowed me to make the most of the days I could spend in the parks.
That evening, we had another meal reservation located at our resort. This made the trek less tiring and gave me the energy to interact with Snow White, the Evil Queen, Dopey, and Grumpy. Storybook Dining at Artist Point with Snow White was fabulous!!! I highly recommend it. After dinner, we watched Magic Kingdom’s fireworks from our balcony.
Day 8: Hollywood Studios and More Rest
Friday was our Hollywood Studios day. On this day, there were dark storm clouds, and every bone in my body was aching, and my neck muscles refused to hold my head up. Knowing that I didn’t want to risk missing our final Magic Kingdom day on Saturday and that Hollywood Studios didn’t have any rides that would allow me to remain in my wheelchair, I made the only decision my body would offer, and that was to stay behind and rest. Again, no guilt was involved. While I slept, my family continued to enjoy the park, and everyone understood that my health came first.
Day 9: A Magical End
Taking Friday off was a wise decision because I was up and ready to hit Magic Kingdom come Saturday morning. We had a fantastic day, complete with a fabulous dinner at Be Our Guest and a spectacular fireworks show.
But the best part was meeting Felicia, a long-time Insta friend and Disney World cast member! As we were making our way to the exit, I heard someone yell, OMG it’s the Disabled Diva!!! I turned my head and immediately recognized her. It was the most magical part of the vacation. We laughed, cried, hugged, and complained about the weather and our achy knees.
Day 10: The Journey Home From My Walt Disney World Vacation
Sunday marked the end of our adventure. Our flight wasn’t until later in the afternoon, allowing us to cross something off our bucket lists—starting our day at WDW’s Magic Kingdom and ending it at Disneyland in California. We had our photos taken in front of the train station, castle, and haunted mansion at both Disney Parks. We even rode each park’s version of the Haunted Mansion.
Dealing with the TSA at Orlando’s airport was a delightful experience. They didn’t separate me from my traveling companions, nor did I have to wait for an agent to inspect my chair; one was already there, happy to do their job.
Walt Disney World Rides
As far as rides went, I mostly went on ones that had a wheelchair-accessible vehicle. There were a few exceptions, but they were slow and not wild.
Wrapping Up My Walt Disney World Vacation
My WDW vacation with multiple chronic illnesses was nothing short of magical. It presented its challenges, but with careful planning, support, and a flexible attitude, I was able to create lasting memories. While I could never have anticipated having to go to the ER 24 hours after arriving home (see my Instagram feed to find out what happened), the trip turned out to be far better than what I could have ever imagined. My actual worry was that I would spend the majority of the vacation in bed. I was and still am pleased with everything I did. Everyone had a blast; we made some fantastic memories. My husband and I plan to return again someday.
Thank you for joining me on this remarkable journey, and remember, no matter where you are on your chronic illness journey, there’s always a little magic waiting to be discovered.
Would you like to know more about vacationing at Disney World or Disneyland with a disability or chronic illness and pain? Comment with your questions, and I will answer them in an upcoming podcast.
That’s it for today’s episode of “The Disabled Diva’s Podcast.” If you enjoyed this journey through my WDW adventure, please subscribe, follow, and leave a review. Your support means the world to me.
Until next time, this is the Disabled Diva, wishing you a GREAT BIG BEAUTIFUL tomorrow!
A great way to evaluate your vacation and find ways to improve your next adventure is to keep a chronic illness journal! Check out this one from my Etsy store here!
I appreciate your time and attention! Remember, you can catch this podcast on popular platforms like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, and Radio Public. Be sure to subscribe and tune in on your preferred listening platform. Until we meet again, take care.
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Keywords: Chronic Illness Vacation, Walt Disney World Journey, Managing Chronic Pain, Traveling with Chronic Illness, Disney World Adventure, Chronic Illness Support, Rest Days and Chronic Illness, Gastrointestinal Pain Update, Depression Awareness Month, Chronic Pain Communities, Halloween and Chronic Pain, Pain Spike Prevention, Magical Disney Experience, Adaptability with Chronic Illness, Pain Management Strategies, Family Support in Chronic Illness, Exploring Multiple Chronic Conditions, Gastroenterologist Referral, Community Engagement, Spooky Season Tips