Some people tell us they come to our photo-remedy blog for the pictures, others for a little light-hearted humor, and still others for an occasional bit of wisdom from the people or research we quote. We also still hear from those that are attracted to our original concept – using photography and the creative process as a powerful tool to help them, when appropriate, better cope with whatever ails them. We know our readers include those who are fighting everything from arthritis and chronic pain to depression and even disabilities. Many are facing more than one of these challenges. This posting is primarily delivered for the original audience, but we think there is some ‘good stuff’ for almost everyone.
My most pressing issues are related to chronic pain that flows from a number of spinal issues and failed surgeries, psoriatic arthritis, and neuropathy. As long as I don’t try to do too much, photography almost always brings me significant pleasure and it frequently offers much-needed relief. I continue to maintain that photo-remedy is an outstanding alternative medicine. If it helps you get over a hump, I say that’s the right prescription.
One of the results of the lumbar and neck challenges I’m facing is declining dexterity in my hands and fingers. Those who knew me when I was younger probably think, “Weren’t you always clumsy?” Yes, that’s true, but I’ve taken it to a new level. I drop, fumble, and miss hand-guided targets on an all too regular basis. Plates, cat food, water, glasses, and even jars of pickles are almost daily visitors to the floors in our house.
There is an upside to this. When I drop or break a wine glass, I’m able to shout out, “Darn hands!”
Most of my professional career was spent in the travel industry. As a result, I still love to play tourist. I also REALLY love to take pictures when traveling. The problem is travel is extremely hard on my body, and we are a bit concerned that the current progression of my dexterity issues may eventually take away, or severely restrict, my ability to take pictures in the future. It is not a given, and we are fighting this, but decreasing dexterity has become a very real concern.
As a result, Mary and I have decided that this is the year we will finally attempt to travel to Ireland. The old adage ‘You better do it while you still can’ is a strong motivator. So, we will be planning to make a trip there later this year to attend a family friend’s wedding, and to hopefully spend some time with other family friends that will be in Dublin for the Emerald Isle Classic football game, which will feature the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and the Midshipman of Navy.
We just got back from the auction where items from Mary’s Mom’s estate were sold. Our journey helped me capture some great images from Colorado and Kansas that I’ll be sharing in greater detail in upcoming posts. The trip helped me further test some of the items and approaches that we hope will get us to Ireland and back as pain-free as possible. This travel quick tip list is not meant to be inclusive, but we hope it will help others facing similar challenges. And, if we are really lucky, perhaps some of you will leave comments that offer your own photo-remedy travel tips and advice.
1-3) Much of my pain management approach involves avoiding mind numbing prescription medications as much as possible. I’m not critical of those that have to take that approach on a daily basis, but I try to avoid it when possible. When it comes to natural methods, nothing works better for me than ice. I rarely go a day without ‘icing’ for a couple of significant periods. I also try to ice both my neck and lower back when traveling. It makes the unbearable more bearable. Number 1, pictured above is my ‘go to’ bag. Keep it dry, take it through security lines at the airport, fill it up at a soda fountain ice machine, and ask your flight attendant to refill as needed. You can take a similar approach when traveling by car. Numbers 2 and 3 are also awesome – they can be frozen or warmed up in a microwave for instant relief. Better to check these when flying.
4) Perhaps my greatest photo-remedy accessory invention. When traveling, I now take my camera mono-pod. When not using it to stabilize pictures, you can set it to the right length and use it as a walking stick. This helps replace the cumbersome canes that I inevitably drop nine or ten times a day. Using them this way is a bit hard on the devices, but you can easily replace them for $10-$20. I got mine at Walmart. At that price they are disposable, but I’ve been using mine for six months or so. Perhaps, I’ll ‘treat’ myself to a new one before going to Ireland.
5) You will not go back once you buy good, comfortable socks. Spend a little extra here and everything from your toes and feet up to your cranium will be grateful. Taking good care of your feet is especially important when traveling. Do not hesitate to invest in hiking socks from a sporting goods store or even diabetic socks (they are really quite comfortable, even for those who are not diabetic).
6) These specialty, easy to transport seat cushions offer great relief to those who have suffered low back trauma. They can be used in the car or carried on when traveling by airplane. If you don’t take care of your low back when traveling even on short trips, you may pay the price for a very long time. In my case, ignoring this issue played a role in my broken vertebrae and multiple degenerative discs.
7) If you can make space for them, hand massage units are great pain-reducing aids. I’ve had really good luck with a variety of Homedics products.
8) Photographers can’t leave home without their camera bags. A backpack has proven to be the best for me. It’s great for keeping all of your camera accessories, and there is often space left over for other items. I often take my iPad in my backpack. Oh, I almost forgot, don’t forget to pack your camera!
9) My Empi TENS is often one of my best friends when I just cannot get a handle on my pain. Since travel usually exasperates pain, I take the American Express ‘Don’t leave home without it’ approach with my TENS.
As I said, this is not meant to be an exhaustive list. I am extremely thankful that I have access to all of these items. I hope one or more of these tips helps you! In the meantime, I am hoping they will be helping me see green soon.
Note: Additional reader tips are always welcomed and encouraged. Photo-remedy is published as a labor of love. Please feel free to share the site, or any of our posts, with others. Our Home Page always features an option for our readers to sign up to immediately receive new material as an email. New readers are always encouraged to review our ‘Blog Background and Initial Post’ tab featured at the top of each page.