The Day Before the Flight

In less than 24 hours I board a plane to Portland, Oregon, leaving the unusually mild Wisconsin winter for the first blush of rainy spring in the land of my birth. Time to pack my rain jacket and hiking boots!

The day before a trip is always nerve-racking – an adrenaline high of anticipation and trying vainly to push aside the annoying worries and “what-ifs” that pop up throughout the packing process. Do I really need this many shoes? Shirts? My entire library?

Fibromyalgia just adds to the anxiety. A flight from the Wisconsin heartland to the West Coast is an all-day endeavor. I rise well before any sane person has begun to dream, stumble out to the airport bleary-eyed and seeking caffeine, and submit my body to hours of tight tin-can seats, over-stimulation of the senses, and horrible processed food. By the time I arrive in Portland, it may be mid-afternoon courtesy of the convenient two-hour jump back in time, but I’ve already lived a full day. My body screams for bed, NOW!

Not exactly what my awaiting parents enjoy after a year of long-distance separation. Hi guys! Bye! I’ll see you in the morning!

I have my travel strategies, which I’ve written about before, to allay the fibro symptoms as much as possible. (See “A Fibromite’s Airline Travel Strategies“) But these strategies only go so far. How I handle this day, the day before I travel, is just as important. I try to wake up a few hours early, to trick my body into an early bedtime. Alas, already a failure. I savagely beat my alarm clock into snooze submission in pursuit of a few more hours and woke without feeling even a bit rested. Ah, the paradox of fibromyalgia. Full night’s sleep and still exhausted.

Those pesky serotonin levels….

Okay, so my sleep strategy has fallen apart. Not all is lost. I am eating as healthy as possible, staying hydrated, and avoiding the frenzied last-minute rush of packing. Instead, I will pack little by little throughout the day, as mini-breaks from my writing. Actually, I started packing a week ago, dumping clothes and items into my suitcase as I thought of them. Avoids the last-minute panic of forgetting something. My short-term memory is all screwed up anyways, courtesy of – you guessed it – fibromyalgia.

In other words, today is like any other day, or so I tell myself. I’ll just keep telling myself that. No stress, no stress, no stress…..


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.
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