Spring break is around the corner and I’m planning a trip. It’s not going to be one that’s really far away at a tropical location, but it will be fun regardless (I'm going to the mountains for a few days). Now, I’m not a stranger to road trips. Last spring break I gave you tips on surviving a spring break road trip. In that article, I briefly talked about the infamous “spoonie bag”.
What is a spoonie?
I hear you asking yourself, “What the heck is a spoonie?” That’s easy. A spoonie is simply someone who suffers from a chronic or invisible illness. Any chronic illness can qualify; gastroparesis, MCAS, POTS, EDS, Crohn’s, IBS… you know, the alphabet soup of illnesses. You can read more about Spoon Theory here. A spoonie is someone like myself who has to decide on a daily basis how they will spend their energy for the day.
What is a spoonie bag?
The perfect spoonie bag will be different from illness to illness and person to person. A spoonie bag is one that holds all the important things that you need to be able to get through a day, a trip, or any kind of outing. When I’m traveling, my spoonie bag may look a little different than it would when I’m just heading out of the house for a couple hours. Think of the spoonie bag as your medical kit; the kit that contains all the things you may need for any kind of medical emergency. Instead of bandaids you’d find in a standard medical kit, I carry salt.
Salt and increased sodium intake is very important for my type of chronic illness. I have POTS, or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, and one of the ways my doctor has me manage symptoms is by increasing my intake of sodium. I will share with you the things that, in my opinion, all chronic illness sufferers should carry in their spoonie bag and the things that just make sense in my spoonie bag for POTS.
Spring Break as a Spoonie
It’s around the corner. Spring break. And, whether you’re college aged like myself or you have kids of your own, it’s inevitable that you’re talking about going somewhere, anywhere but staying home. Road trips of any length are difficult for your average person. Add chronic illness to the mix and shew!
But here’s the bottom line. Our life is up to us to live. Managing chronic illness somewhere other than home can give you the relaxation and peace of mind you deserve. So, grab your Spoonie Bag and let’s get to packing.
Here’s all my essentials:
Hand Sanitizer. Post covid, this is a no brainer. Any kind of illness can trigger a flare for me. So, I keep hand sanitizer around for times when I may not have easy access to a bathroom sink to wash my hands. It’s great on spring break trips for pit stops at gas stations.
Sick bags. I get nauseated easily and not only when I eat the sketchy gas station food. Personally, I love those compact blue vomit bags from the hospital. They aren’t the prettiest bags, but frankly they get the job done efficiently. They stay folded up nicely in my bag, and as a bonus you can get them in bulk on Amazon.
Ginger candies. These are GREAT for nausea. These are sweet hard candies you suck on like a cough drop (but better!). Get yourself some!
Medical grade electrolytes. If your electrolyte isn’t medical grade are you really getting the amount of sodium you need? Sports drinks have way too much sugar and not enough sodium. Some of the popular brands like Liquid IV or LMNT don’t contain any sugar. You have to find the balance. Some sugar is needed to properly absorb sodium through the sodium-glucose cotransport system. NormaLyte is a medical grade electrolyte that was made specifically for people with dysautonomia. Check out their free samples and see the difference it can make.
Emergency salts. Some people, especially those with POTS, carry little packets of salt with them wherever they go. You know, those little packets you can pick up at fast food places for your french fries. It can help if you find yourself in a mini flare after having overdone an activity. I keep my NormaLyte on hand. It’s in a powder form and can be mixed with water that I keep in my bag at all times so it’s very handy.
Phone chargers. I keep extras in my bag. My phone contains all my medical records and other emergency contact information. Speaking of medical records….
Medical records. I keep a one sided sheet of paper with my medical records in case of an emergency. If something were to happen to me and someone needs to know what medications I’m taking, who my doctors are, and who my emergency contacts are they will have access to it.
Extra medicines. I always pack my meds, but I keep a medicine organizer in there filled with other various meds just in case. This is especially important if you’re traveling by plane and checking your luggage - you need to have a day or two of medicines readily on hand.
Sunscreen. Aren’t sunburns the worst?
Salty snacks. I have been known to have actual pickles in my bag. You know those individually wrapped but ginormous pickles with all the world's sodium content? Those. And I will not apologize… want a pickle? I mean, I guess pretzels or popcorn would get the job done too… if you’re in a pinch. haha!
Water bottle. Hydration is important for everyone. Have you tried using one of those vacuum insulated stainless steel water bottles? Game changers.
Kindle/E-reader. For longer road trips, these are lifesavers.
Hand warmers. It’s not summer yet, and if you have Raynaud’s phenomenon where your extremities go numb and start to get cold and tingle then you’ll appreciate having a hand warmer. They make rechargeable warmers that can be used for longer than disposable ones. Raynaud’s phenomenon and POTS can go together according to this article.
Extra compression socks. If you have POTS, you know compression socks. I keep extras in case I sweat through mine or just need a change.
What do you keep in your spoonie bag? Did I miss anything really important?