This weekend lurks the beast I have not yet conquered in almost 3 years of learning to live with fibromyalgia – the out-of-state weekend road trip. Friday we pile into my in-law’s car and putter off into the sunset to distant and exotic Minneapolis.
Okay, so it is not exactly the road trips of yore, when Dad would guide us on 16 hour journeys to California with stop-offs in the national parks that make road trips so enticing in the West. This will not be a mythic marathon, weaving along rocky coves of the Pacific Ocean and stopping for a handful of saltwater taffy, or the hours of boredom induced by the never-ending flatness of I-5 as I slipped on my Walkman, dug into a pile of books and occasionally glanced out the window at the strobe-light effect of passing rows of corn. There will be no magical geological or natural wonders punctuating the journey, rest stops of wonder as I gaze up at impossibly tall redwoods caressing the heavens or clamor around the dripping limestone and eerie incandescent lights dancing in the farther reaches of the Oregon Caves.
But it is still a 6 hour drive, and that is far longer than any I have subjected myself to since my diagnosis. The reward at the end of the journey will by my beaming nephew, excited for his fourth birthday.
Driving in a vehicle, for some unknown reason, seems to be harder on my body than other forms of travel. My preferred method of locomotion is the train, the most comfortable of all options available. I rarely feel fatigued and achy at the end of a train journey, even after the longer hauls or night trains of Europe. The seats are bigger, the leg room expansive, with the ability to get up and walk around, and gliding on rails is almost soft as velvet. While flying tends to be much more uncomfortable, the movement itself is usually smooth. But in a car, especially with the ridges of slabs of concrete that make up the majority of Midwestern highways, even an hour begins to wear on me. The shaking, rattling, rumbling of the machinery along the highway, a buzz of the road and friction on the tires. All of it slowly seeping into my bones and muscles. The result – fatigue, achy muscles, and the tensing of my joints and trigger points of pain. Especially in my lower back, feet and neck.
The longest road trip I’ve endured lately has been to Chicago just last month. After three hours on the road, I was relieved to sink into the hotel bed. This time I will be arriving to an expectant nephew who wants me to play with him. It will be an interesting test of endurance and patience. So here’s to a week of pre-emptive rest and eating healthy – I am determined to master the road trip beast.