Ableism, Travel, and the Realities of Living with Neurofibromatosis

To begin, this post is not directed at any individual. I have numerous friends who regularly travel, and that’s great. I always enjoy hearing about places around the world. However, as I have recently mentioned, May is Neurofibromatosis month (read more here), and I wanted to make a few more comments about ableism and travel.

For people with numerous medical problems, long travel is much more complicated than it is for the “average” person. In some cases, it might be near impossible. These problems are seldom acknowledged and few “accommodations” are possible or even available.

In my case, any kind of travel requires gathering enough of all 13 medications. These medications come in several different forms, and some require special treatment. One of my medications is not allowed on airplanes (in part because it is very flammable and in part because it can be dangerous), so that limits by ability to travel greatly. Physical problems and my permanent leg brace also make traveling (and walking) much more complicated. 

In addition, several of my medications are for my stomach. For most of my life, I have had to be extra careful with what I eat. Traveling, for someone like me who is not able-bodied, is also made complicated because I have to worry about what I will eat and how my body will react.

Travel typically involves extra physical and mental energy for all kinds of reasons. For someone who already gets tired and sick easily, this extra energy can really take a toll.

So, the overall point here is that some of us would like to really travel, but doing so seems  and often is almost impossible. People who travel regularly, easily benefit from ableism and able-bodied privilege. 

Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda