Saturday, September 12, 2009

Vacationing with fibro

This year we decided to take a vacation to Hawaii. I should have been really excited but as the trip got closer and closer, I got more and more stressed about it, to the point that I didn't really want to go. Crazy, huh? Who wouldn't want to go to Hawaii? As it turned out, most of my fears were ungrounded.

First and foremost, I felt so terrible the month prior to the trip that I was afraid I wouldn't feel up to doing anything while in Hawaii. I had migraines that lasted days and days and a fibro flare that lasted weeks. I was unable to do anything and I couldn't see being able to enjoy myself on vacation. I was afraid I would be in pain the whole time and be a total downer for my family. Thank goodness, that didn't happen. What I didn't take into account is how great I feel when I'm near the ocean. My body pains melted away the first day there and my headaches were gone by the second day. I felt fantastic the whole time. Even the nagging back pain that plagues me nearly every day of my life was just gone. I've talked to several people with fibro, and they all feel better by the ocean too. Somebody should research that phenomenon. It could offer valuable insight into fibro, if you ask me.

Anyway, the second thing I worried about was that I would be miserable sitting on a plane for six hours. I can't sit upright for long periods of time. It hurts my back and my hip. Recently, I attended a memorial service and sitting on the small, hard chair for two hours triggered a month's worth of hip pain. No matter how much stretching and massaging I did on my hip, the pain just wouldn't go away.  Riding in a car gets pretty uncomfortable after awhile too, and I have comfy, heated leather seats and can sprawl out in my car as much as I need to. I figured sitting upright on the plane would be painful, or very uncomfortable at the very least. Once again, I was wrong. The seat was surprisingly comfortable.

Another thing I worried about was being without all my comfort paraphernalia. I have two contoured pillows that have to be stacked in a certain way for my neck to be comfortable when I sleep. Plus, I can't sleep without my body pillow and even my super soft pillow top mattress can seem hard at times. I regularly use a shiatsu massage pillow, a heated wrap for my neck, a percussion massage tool on my hip and a myofascial trigger point release cylinder. I also use a variety of pain creams that I figured wouldn't be so comfortable in upper 80 degree temps. Again, I shouldn't have worried so much. My muscles loosened up so quickly I didn't need any of my massage/trigger point stuff or the pain creams. However, I really missed my contoured pillows and body pillow. And our bed in the condo?

While very pretty, it was as hard as a rock. Well, maybe not a rock, but it truly felt like sleeping on cardboard. I was so uncomfortable that I was up before 6:00 every morning. Luckily, my lack of sleep didn't catch up with me until we got home.

I also worried that I would get a migraine on the flight or while in Hawaii. It didn't happen. I think my last series of migraines was caused by stress and it felt really good to just get away from everything. Taking a break from daily life seemed to break the cycle of anxiety that I was in. I feel more serene now than I have in many, many months.

So, the lesson I learned from all of this is: Take vacation! Just do it near the ocean.

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