Emerging from Flare

I have spent the past week emerging from a grueling and frustrating fibro flare. There is nothing so debilitating for me than a “flare”, in which all the systems within my body are affected, from my foggy brain all the way down to my painfully cramping feet. Within one week’s time, I experienced it all: dizziness, over-sensitivity in all 5 senses which made sleep all but impossible, painfully tender muscles, severe cramps in my feet and hands that send pain shooting up my legs and arms, an unhappy digestive system, and a brain I couldn’t trust to remember why I walked 5 steps in one direction.

Needless to say, I didn’t leave my house, except to water my neglected garden in the middle of a summer drought, and even that was a risky endeavor.

A fibromyalgia flare is usually sparked by some sort of stressor on the body, whether physical or emotional. In this case, I came down with a run-of-the-mill virus. While most people would spend a couple days in misery on the couch and then be back on their feet, my body was stressed enough fighting the virus that it pushed me into a flare.

This has been the worst flare I’ve experienced in a few months, and my time on the couch got me thinking about my approaching trip to Europe. I have planned this trip carefully, with my health needs getting top priority without sacrificing my experience. Yet when I look at my plans, I realize I haven’t thought about what I should do in the case of a truly severe and debilitating flare. When my family and friends ask me how I’ll be able to travel and stay healthy, I mention all my strategies, such as pacing myself, allowing myself to rest, prioritizing, etc. But I never answer the larger “what if”. Positive thinking has it’s place, but in this case, I’m allowing it to blind me to a critical piece of planning. It’s time to prepare myself for the worst scenario, beyond having medical insurance for the trip.

It’s a simple solution, actually. I can cancel almost all of my reservations up to 48 hours in advance without penalty. If I am experiencing a particularly bad flare, I will be honest with myself about my physical capabilities and make the decision to cancel a leg of the trip and stay put until the worst of the flare is over. If I have to spend a few extra days in Dubrovnik or Krakow resting, it’s not the end of the world.

And here’s where the positive thinking comes in – I may get a better feel for the pulse of the neighborhood in a longer stay than a couple of days allows for, even if it is just napping to the sounds of the world passing outside my window.

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About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
This entry was posted in travel tips, travel with fibromyalgia and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Emerging from Flare

  1. Darla says:

    I hear ya! I have a trip to MX coming up in February. I need to get honest with myself before then.

    • chronictraveler says:

      Exactly – if we’re not honest with ourselves, we’ll push ourselves too far, at least I know I will! Where in Mexico are you going?

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