Doug Fugate has a love for traveling. However, reaching different destinations often requires a lot of walking and sitting for extended periods of time – in cars, trains, or airplanes. This can be challenging for Fugate, who suffers from peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAOD), which restricts blood flow to his legs and arms due to narrowed arteries.
Fugate, who lives in Austin, Texas, has undergone two thigh-popliteal bypass surgeries to open up blocked arteries in his legs. He is determined to keep these bypasses open. When traveling, Fugate makes a point to move frequently, even while sitting on a plane. He says, „Walking is often the best medicine for PAOD.“
Many people with PAOD can safely travel. However, if walking is painful due to PAOD, smart preparations can help make your travels smoother.
Know your limits. For example, if you think you might need them on the way to the airport or train station, inquire in advance about the availability of wheelchairs or other assistive devices. Since his surgery to open blood flow to his legs, Fugate’s leg pain has been minimal, allowing him to go without a wheelchair at airports.
However, „walking from terminal to terminal sometimes puts a lot of strain on my right foot,“ he says. „I’m fine if I’m not carrying anything, but I usually have my laptop bag and carry-on, so the additional weight puts pressure on my PAOD foot.“ When this happens, Fugate stops and shakes his foot for about 15 seconds, then continues when it feels better.
A few years ago, Fugate started a Facebook group, the PAD Support Group (PAD/PVD), which now has more than 2,400 members. With so many people in the group, it has become an invaluable source of advice for living with PAOD, including travel tips.
It’s helpful to take a few extra walks before being stuck in your airplane or train seat. Fugate tries to arrive earlier than necessary so he has time to walk slowly and rest along the way.
When booking a hotel, inquire about the availability of an elevator or request a lower floor. Fugate also suggests asking for an accessible room with barrier-free amenities.
When flying, Fugate often tries to move his legs. This is not always easy due to the limited space in airplanes, but even a simple movement like taking off his shoes and putting his feet up can help. He also stands up about every 30 minutes to walk down the aisle to maintain his blood flow.
Steve Hamburger, a semi-retired marketing professional in Westlake Village, California, agrees that legroom can be an issue. „If you can afford it, try to have more legroom when flying,“ he says.