This past weekend, I got to go to Manhattan.
New York, New York- some people love it, some people hate it.
I’m somewhere in the middle.
I used to go all the time when I was younger. I have relatives who live in Brooklyn and Long Island (Hey cousins!) and we went every Easter and Thanksgiving to spend the holiday with them. Often this meant a special trip into the city. My mom is the epitome of a City Girl. Traffic, blaringly loud noise, and concrete are like oxygen to her.
Total unicorn, right? #CityUnicorn
Those things are not oxygen to me. In fact, they are much more like Kryptonite. Throw in a lack of public restrooms (though there is always the Ladies’ Lounge at Saks! Highly recommended, haha) and I am 1 liter of SmartWater away from a meltdown.
But the city is so fun once you get there! There’s so much to do, so much to see! Plus, we were there for a very important reason- my great-aunt’s 75th birthday party, held at the Café in the American Girl doll store. This was, of course, the greatest place ever to have a 75th birthday party luncheon, and of course, I had to be there.
So here it is, my POTSie Girl in the City Guide:
~Pick your hotel carefully…but remain adaptable.
We scoured the internet for weeks trying to find a hotel in Manhattan that had a mini-fridge and a microwave so that I could make my own food and not starve to death. (I eat small meals throughout the day on account of #POTSproblems #BrokenDigestiveSystem) We finally found one, and all was wonderful. Then we got there and they had a massive malfunction of their computer system. Computers are kind of important to hotels that have key-cards. We weren’t able to check into our room for an additional 2 hours after traveling 7-ish hours to get there (15 hellish minutes of which were spent NOT MOVING in the Lincoln Tunnel). I’d like to say I was super cool and handled this well. I did not and so will gloss over my actual reaction to the situation by telling you what I wish I had done… Remain adaptable. The hotel offered to hold our luggage and get us drinks at the bar. Do that. Listen to the friendly hotel manager who looks like Adonis and smells like a Gucci male model (that’s a good thing, by the way, a very good thing) when he tells you he wants to take care of you. Do not hole up in your car and have a panic attack while blocking the hotel unloading zone. No one likes this and all the horns honking at you will make you feel worse. Listen to Adonis-Hotelier. He’ll keep your gluten-free toaster safe while you decompress with a Shirley Temple on the terrace.
No one is kidding about that whole “City that Never Sleeps” thing. Trust me. If you want to break tradition so as not to be a zombie the next day, pack some earplugs.
~ If you have special dietary needs, look up restaurants in advance. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your waiter for help.
There is a wonderful app called “Find Me Gluten-Free” that uses your location or a zipcode to find you places that serve gluten-free options. It is so, so helpful. I was able to figure out that there was a restaurant just a few blocks from our hotel where I could safely eat…Sadly due to the above chaos, we didn’t actually go there, and I had a plain hamburger from room service which was not as fun.
However, this was made up for (Thanks, Karma!) on Sunday at the party because when I asked our waiter if I could get my meal bunless at the Birthday Lunch, he informed me that everything on the menu could be made gluten-free. Bless you, American Girl! I was flipping starving. I also got to have special gluten-free, dairy-free dessert because our waiter was looking out for me from then on, and he even threw in a free not-on-the-menu muffin in exchange for a wink and a smile. (It’s important to have a good wink and a smile in your friendliness arsenal, Chronics!)
This was my spectacular food, because I went all hipster (we weren’t even near Williamsburg!) and took a photo of it before I ate:
~ Pack good shoes.
Ok, so when I say, “The restaurant is 3 blocks from the hotel,” that seems like super doable to most, right? Like, “Wow, convenient walking distance!” But those are city blocks y’all, and they didn’t count walking through Rockefeller Center in the directions. Toeless compression stockings + uber-cute sandals = blisters. Ouchy.
~ Skyscrapers are helpful when you are trying to hide from the sun.
Usually I wear long sleeves when I go outside for any length of time (see my previous posts with pictures of my running outfits. I don’t mess around) so that I can hide from the sun and avoid a Polymorphous Light Eruption. Except it was 102 degrees outside, in the city, which means it was like walking on the sun. I don’t know what it is about concrete and steel, but that <stuff> does not breathe. However, an excessive amount of tall buildings means an excessive amount of shade. Another reason better shoes would have been helpful: I was the weirdo dashing about under awnings and in shadows trying to not get burned in my pretty little sleeveless top. I probably added an additional ½ block to my walk time in order to be properly shaded.
~ A well stocked purse is a lifesaver, but make sure you can handle its weight.
I kid you not, in my purse I had enough food to last me 3+ hours (the approximate time I would be away from my personal stash at the hotel) and then some. I also had a sweater, 1 liter of water, a full Gatorade, plus all my usual purse-stuff. It wasn’t even a tote, just a well made Mary Poppins-esque number. I was totally good carrying it. Then I asked my mom to hold it for a second and she nearly fell over. We concluded that if anyone tried to steal it, they would be the victim in that scenario.
~ Incentive, incentive, incentive.
Reward yourself for all the Chronic obstacles you are overcoming. The concrete jungle is not very Chronic friendly, so you should expect overwhelming exhaustion and flare-ups no matter how well prepared you are. So be good to your self- buy that hot pink tank top at the Radio City Music Hall giftshop that says Rockettes in shiny silver letters! Eat every bite of that special allergen-free dessert! And don’t forget to take a selfie with Prometheus. You’ve earned it!