Travelling With Trigeminal Neuralgia: A Guide To Pompeii
At the start of the month, at stupid o’clock on a cold Tuesday morning, I set off to the airport for a journey to Pompeii, Italy..
This was the first holiday abroad I’d been on with Trigeminal Neuralgia (if we don’t count that I experienced the first attack of TN in Rome two years ago), so I was very nervous about travelling with medication and with the constant fear of an attack if pain! I made lists, I stressed to my GP about flying with medication and what if something was wrong with the amount of drugs I need at security at the airport, what if my face hurt too badly on holiday to cope, what if I needed medical attention? I need not have worried so much – I had a fantastic holiday and I’ve only come home dying to explore Italy even more!
The holiday actually began with a very rude lady at Manchester Airport security. A few days before flying, I had bought clear plastic bags that zipped sealed and popped my liquids (shampoo, make up, sun cream) inside and picked out just enough medication – and then some more – to last me a week away from my drug drawer at home. I made sure everything was labelled with my prescription away and even packed a new, sealed box of Salivix.
The lady at security, before we even reached the scanners, exclaimed that my clear plastic bag far too large and did I not know that it needed to be sealed? Ignoring the huge zipper at the top! She provided me with a more flimsy bag that was the same size as the one I’d brought, but much to flimsy to be holding my heavy medication..
Aside from this, airport security was no problem with my drugs – however my actual handbag did get swabbed!
I was prepared for every eventuality on this holiday and I was aware of every possible thing that could set my pain off: air-conditioning at the airport, air-conditioning on the plane, pressure on the plane, the change in temperature landing in Naples, the breeze on the train, the sun, air-conditioning in the villa, ice cold bottles of water, ice cold drinks in general, cool restaurants, sitting in the sun.. But I didn’t account for one thing – time difference and flying at the time I usually take my tablets!
Leaving home at 3am, I popped a Pregabalin on my way out of the door, the same way I would every morning, although this is usually around 6am, so I was already 3 hours too early with my tablet. No problem.. until we landed in Italy, the time zone changed by one hour (which did favour my medication time taking), but I didn’t get around to taking my evening Pregabalin until after dinner at about 10pm (9pm UK time), so I was around 4 hours out of my usual medication routine.. and BOY, did I pay!
A glass of wine, or two, probably didn’t help either. I felt like I’d been punched in the eye socket. I couldn’t move, I managed to snuggle up in bed and sleep, but was still struggling until I took my morning Pregabalin before breakfast. Within about two hours, I was back to feeling like myself and I was very careful about timings for the rest of our trip!
I am proud to say that we walked every step of the Pompeii ruins, and without a guide! We did trains by ourselves, we managed to take ourselves from Naples to Pompeii to Sorrento, to Pompeii again and back to Naples. We had the most amazing time celebrating our engagement and I would encourage everyone to visit.. particularly anyone who thinks they might struggle due to medical condition but really wants to go, because you never know, you just might amaze yourself!
Here are my tips for a happy trip to Pompeii:
Take care with the timings of your medication. Don’t let it slip like I did!
Don’t take the angry lady at the security to heart. She really needs to learn how to speak to people and that’s not your problem. You can only do your best and hope that people will try to help you, not hinder you, especially when they can see you’re holding a huge bag full of medication!
See Sorrento! You can walk the whole of Sorrento in a day, including time to stop for cocktails on the beach and a cheeky pizza at the harbour!
Take something warm to wear on the plane, preferably something with a hood. It’s nice to shelter your face from the air-conditioning, or even if you don’t have TN, it’s nice to stay warm in the sky.
Try the trains in Italy, because they’re not airs scary as you think. Public transport in Italy is actually quite easy and there’s no risk of a taxi ripping you off if you avoid taxis altogether! Naples to Pompeii would have cost us 50 euro in a taxi, but cost us 5 euro between us for a train.
Try to learn a little Italian. I am crap with languages and it would have been so much easier if I could say more than ‘wine please’ in Italian, because no one in Pompeii spoke English!
Take your hosts recommendations for food, or eat with them! We had dinner with our hosts, at their villa, twice and it was absolutely amazing to have real Italian food. None of that tourist rubbish!
Buy your tickets for the Pompeii ruins within the entrance to the actual ruins, not outside. You can get tickets for the ruins for €12 and an audio guide for £8, meaning you can explore the whole ruins and have access to all the information a guide does, without a time limit. The guides selling tickets outside the train station look like the real deal, but they’re not the official tickets and it is definitely do-able on your own!
Enjoy yourself and don’t let TN stop you from doing the things you want to!
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