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.