Wednesday, August 10, 2011

To Travel or Not to Travel

Last week my husband and I enjoyed a great mini-vacation together.  The lakeside resort we chose for our holiday included a great view, a spa ... and a 5-hour car ride.  In my opinion, the words 'travelling with fibro' are 3 words that shouldn't be in the same sentence.  Like champagne served with hot dogs, they just don't belong together. I certainly don't relish the idea of packing, laundry-wrangling and doing it all over again.

In the 4 years that I've had fibromyalgia, I've travelled by plane. I've travelled by sea. But I've steered away from the annual summer road trip. I'm not at all enthusiastic about riding shotgun on sweaty leather for 200 miles.  It's a necessary evil however and something that needs to be endured if you want to get from Point A to Holiday B. With a wave to the Diva Dog and house-sitter, we set off for a rare holiday without kids.

Three hours into the journey, I felt restless, antsy and too uncomfortable to sit any longer.  I had cleverly remembered to bring a blanket and pillow, in case I wanted to camp out in the back seat. When we pulled over,  I scrambled into the back and made a bed for myself.   The seat belt cut me in half at the waist and it was difficult to get into a comfortable position.  So I did something bad.  I unbuckled and stretched out on the seat. Ahhh, sweet bliss.  I watched the clouds pass by mile after mile. It reminded me of childhood - before mandatory seat belt laws - when we layed down guilt-free on the backseat with a sleeping bag and pillow.  Back then everyone did it and we did it without the fear of imminent death. 

The hours passed by uneventfully until we got off the highway and made a wide turn onto the exit ramp. Groggy with sleep, I slid from the rear seat and pitched forward.  Instinctively, I thrust out my arm to prevent a face plant into the driver's seat.  Sharp pain crept up my arm, lodging in my shoulder. I got the message loud and clear;  nap time was over. I sat up and buckled up.

The hotel was big and lively.  Our time was our own - we stayed out late and got up whenever we wanted.  We stayed too long at the casino.  I think the machines were definitely rigged.  No one seemed to be winning much of anything.  Did that stop us?  What do you think?  *sly grin*.  We walked around the promenade in the sunshine, enjoying the view of the lake.  I treated myself to a wonderfully relaxing pedicure.  We did a tad of shopping and took in some local art.  We napped in the afternoon and practically inhaled the turn-down service chocolates.  We ordered room service whenever we felt like it, indulging in hotel hookey, truant from real life.  The Fibro Bully was thoughtful enough to back off and allow me the luxury of four (relatively) pain-free days. Then, the clock struck twelve and it was time to leave the ball.

All good things must come to an end.  (Why do the rotten things last forver?)  I dreaded the claustraphobic passenger seat for the long drive home.  To pass time, I distracted myself with scenery watching. You can only look at trees for so long before you either fall asleep or start talking to your husband. I fell asleep.  My head bobbed and rolled for the next 100 miles. With home only an hour away, I decided to forego the back seat even though I was mad with the need to stretch out my legs.

After the second day at home it came as no surprise when exhaustion took me down. Waiting to be unpacked, only the suitcases had the strength to stand.  I went to bed for a nap and stayed there for the better part of 48 hours. I eventually emerged from the fibro-coma and stood up. My right knee was puffy and inflamed. Well, isn't that just swell, I thought.

I couldn't bear weight on it, so I wrapped it with a tensor bandage while hubby dug out the 'emergency' cane from the back of the closet.  My knee has pulled this stunt before - having 3 surgeries on it will do that.  I've learned from past experience that all it needs is rest, some ice and a few Advil. Soooo, this meant a return to bed just as my energy had re-emerged. (I guess it's asking too much for good health to occur simultaneously.)  Because of my stupid stupid knee I missed out on a cool Blueberry Festival that I wanted to go to.  I deliberately stayed home to rest my leg so I could attend an annual family tradition later that evening: fireworks on the beach but I didn't go to that either.  I felt it was too risky to be stumbling around on sand, in the dark with a bum knee.  If I fell, it would be a diaster, so I stayed home and sulked.  Missing out on family get-togethers is part of the package deal called Fibromyalgia.  As if pain and fatigue are not bad enough, the Fibro Bully stomps the shit outta your social life.  My knee is better but fibro pain has now gripped my neck and shoulders like a pit-bull, refusing to let go. 

Tomorrow I will get another chance.  It's my daughter's 16th birthday and we'll go back to the same beach.  There will be no fireworks but I'll settle for the blaze of candles on her cake.  As much as I stress about packing and the things that need to be done before a holiday, I thoroughly enjoy myself once I'm there. Long car journeys are difficult for me but I'll ride it out. It's a short-term exchange for the chance to make unforgettable memories ...  another opportunity for family fun will come around again and pain or no pain, I will thumb my nose at the obnoxious Fibro Bully.

So, I ask you:

To travel or not to travel? That is the question, 
Whether is nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of fibromyalgia ...
To die; to sleep. To sleep: perchance to dream ... (We wish!)
Ay, there's the rub.... 
(And believe me, we're going to need it.)

Have fibro will travel!


  1. The irony is not lost on me that most people get to go on vacations to RELAX. If I go on one, I can expect a severe flare lasting twice as long as the vacation did. It had better be a damned good vacation to make me go through the agony that comes later.

    The last time I traveled was September of last year. It wasn't purely for fun; my father was having cancer surgery, and my husband and I drove 600 miles to see him. Took us two days to get there because I had to stay overnight after the first 300 miles. I was sooo sick by the time I got home that I vowed never to leave town again. But now my husband's grandfather is in hospice in Florida (I'm in South Dakota), and I know I'm gonna have to endure a full day each way of flying with multiple connecting flights at some point.

    But there is one thing I always say: earned pain is always preferable to unearned. Hope your trip was worthwhile to you.

  2. I'm sorry to hear you're having to travel so far and for such a sad occasion. I especially like your last paragraph - ain't it the truth? You write well. Do you have a blog? I sincerely wish you the best during your travels and hope it isn't too difficult for you. We really do need to stop and get our rest, stretch our legs. Thanks for your comment.

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  4. Cathy, I am so glad you introduced me to your blog. I only had time to read about your traveling but I love your tongue in cheek humor. I can so relate to the travel aspect with Fibromyalgia and I think your keeping your sense of humor is a blessing. I look forward to reading past posts and following your blog. I hope others will share their blogs as well.
    Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ❀Gentle Hugs❀Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

  5. Hi Marti,

    I'm happy that you liked my 'silly lil blog.' I've done a bit more travelling since this last post and it looks like more is in store for me. However, upcoming trips will be of the weekend variety once a month, or so. So, I'd better keep the zippers oiled on my suitcase. Too bad that doesn't work with creaky knees!

  6. What a good topic! I've never seen it addressed, & believe there's merit in the idea that HSP can be part and parcel to PTSD. Thinking back-I had highly critical parents - my mother was a mean person, and her name-calling still stings. Even my ears hurt when she was criticizing me. Ever had your own mother tell you you were ugly? Too sensitive?? She, & others I've encountered through the years like to insult others, and when they show offense, love to say, " You're too sensitive. I was just joking". In the past, I've wished I was more 'thick-skinned', but I can see the blessing in it too - I try to be tactful and carful of the feelings of others, apologize when I'm not. Wouldn't trade it.

  7. A message to the original cowardly anonymous who HAS just got to be a raging chauvanist pig, you obviously feel threatened by Cathy's blog! and maybe somewhat jealous!, that's the only reason I can see for your childish rantings - whether your male or female you must be an awful person to be with,you may actually not be human at all, so bitter and twisted, at leat have the guts to display your name instead of scurrying off to hide. Keep up the great work Cathy life does tend to vomit up the dregs of society who enevitably invade the good others do, have comfort in the fact you have cherished friends and family who love you and your blog xx

  8. Touche Anne!

    I pray that commenting here does not just ignite the previous or any other coward to comment about something they are so obvious ignorant about.

    I just would like add a comment about road trips & Fibro. They are a definite "Do Not Mix With..."

    After 4 really good years of symptoms being managed well I took a long awaited and drooled over road trip. 8 hours. Some of this time was because of the need for many stretching stops.
    A week later 8 hours back home.

    Two days later after arriving home. A major flare.
    One year later almost to the day. The flare is still rearing it''s ugly head.

    Fast forward to net month, another road trip planned.
    While flaring..hmmmm....just don;t know.

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