Spring Break

Dana Point Sunset 2
Sunset View from our Dana Point, CA Beach Cottage Rental

No, I didn’t quit my blog. It was Spring Break last week and I am not at a point yet where I have had enough time to backlog and schedule posts for when I’m not at home. ūüôā

Everyone who has ever attended school in America knows that Spring Break is the time of year that you look forward to. The new has worn off the school year, your friends are starting to get on your nerves, and the promise of summer vacation is just around the corner. You want to get away. You¬†need to let go of some stress. As parents, we remember this feeling, and many of us feel the same types of yearning to get away from work at this time of the year. I’m no different. Even though I am currently off work with my disabilities, I had planned a vacation from work for Spring Break. So, we went ahead with it. I’m going to share with you what I learned about traveling with chronic pain.

As I have been sharing on my blog, this time away from work has been about improving my health. My primary focus has been on myself, and finding out exactly what helps me feel better and improves my overall wellness. So, I had BIG plans for this vacation. I have found that sun and warm weather help my symptoms, and I have always had a yearning to be near water, so going to Southern California seemed like a brilliant plan. It’s not too far from home, so the travel time shouldn’t be too hard on my body (I thought). I have spent several vacations there, so I know the area and figured it would be less stressful to try to get around and find what I need. There are gorgeous beaches, sunny weather, and lots of restorative qualities to be found from the ocean and the amazing views. I brought my¬†essential oils, I had my meditation and yoga spot picked out on the deck of the cottage ¬†we were staying at, I even packed apple cider vinegar and local honey to use in the daily morning “tea” I make for myself. All sounds like it should have been a relaxing time, right? Not so much.

What I found was that traveling is just as stressful on my body as work. Being confined to sitting in one space and position for more than about 30 minutes at a time (without being able to get up and stretch or shift to elevating my legs) hurts. So, traveling at all begins the pain cycle. Also, since sleep is an issue for me (in regard to being comfortable enough to not hurt), sleeping in a bed that isn’t the right firmness is also an issue. Although the beach cottage we stayed in was great, the bed in it was not great – for me at least. Now add exhaustion from lack of sleep to the pain. Next, my very fair skinned daughter spent a bit too much time in the sun (the first full day we got there – and the only sunny day) and got a terrible sunburn, which caused her to be dehydrated. Okay, now emotional/mental stress is added to exhaustion and pain, from worrying about her. Should I continue? I also wasn’t able to find great choices of gluten free food that were also free of my other food sensitivities, so I was eating things that caused inflammation to worsen in my body. Finally, with the rain we had there was no way to use the fabulous deck for yoga or meditation, and we were 3 adult sized people and a dog in a 4o0 square foot cottage, so you can imagine there was no space to be found inside to practice either.

What’s the good news in all of this? First, my daughter is fine. We were able to get fluids into her, I used coconut oil and lavender oil to cool and soothe the burn, and she is recovering nicely. Also, I did get to spend time with people I love and see some great Southern California scenery. Lastly, I learned a valuable lesson. I can’t plan for chronic pain. It is what it is. I can do my best to ¬†prepare for it and manage it, but it’s still always there. Does this mean I can never travel again? Of course not. But it does mean that I have to be more aware of what the pitfalls are and how it might affect me. Also, that I may need recovery time after doing so. This is day three after returning home and I am still so exhausted I can barely make it up and down the stairs. I am back on track with my self care, and am hoping to experience some improvement from the pain soon. The main thing is, my attitude is still positive. I know I have the ability to choose my perception of life, and I am choosing to embrace and enjoy every moment as it comes.

Do you have any insights on traveling with chronic pain or Fibromyalgia? Please share!

In love and light, Bobbie

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Take Your Medicine!…or not?

Last Friday I visited what was probably the 10th “specialist” that I have been referred to through my primary care provider, in hopes of finding a better way to deal with my Fibromyalgia, Arthralgia, Chronic Fatigue, Migraines, IBS, and other general malaise. Previously I’ve either seen or been referred to a ¬†Hematologist, a Rheumatologist, ¬†an OBGYN, an Acupuncturist, a Physical Therapist, a Pain Diversion Clinic, a Doctor of Naturopathy, a Chiropractor, Massage Therapy, and a Certified Nutrition Specialist practicing Contact Reflex Analysis. There may be more, but these are the ones I specifically remember. Friday’s¬†Doctor only deals with pain management. I was told this was a newly opened clinic that seemed to be having “good results” with their¬†Fibro¬†patients. Okay, why not try again, right? So, off I go. The conversation went something like this:

Doctor: “What brings you in today?”

Me: “I think my Primary Care Provider doesn’t know what else to do for my Fibromyalgia, so we’re trying this. I do prefer a holistic approach and not to be on tons of medications.”

Doctor: “I practice Western Medicine…EVIDENCE¬†based medicine. You should see a Naturopath.”

As you can imagine I wasn’t thrilled with that response, but I think he quickly realized how abrasive it had sounded and spent the next ten minutes trying to explain why his way is right. Telling me things like the forums where I had read posts regarding negative patient experiences with drugs like Duloxetine¬†and Pregabalin, along with their long list of side effects, are nothing to worry about – the medications are safe, and he “does this for a living.” I’m sorry, I realize I should use proper grammar and not make this look like a text message, but…ROFL! I did manage to keep myself from launching into the science (and evidence) behind more holistic therapies, as I’m sure he couldn’t have cared less.

He continued to make assumptions about my lack of knowledge and understanding of Fibromyalgia and even physical activity, at one point telling me that beginning an athletic regimen would cause me some discomfort. Are you serious? I had no idea! I mean, after all being a Portland Marathon finisher and multiple other distance races, certainly isn’t athletic or require any training of any sort. Please! Plus, there is not a single person I know that has dealt with a chronic or autoimmune illness for any length of time, that hasn’t done some research or learned quite a lot of the specifics of their condition. It’s a must – it impacts every moment of your life!

I’m sure this is not a unique experience for those of us that have pain or chronic illnesses, or potentially even just more standard visits. What I tried to do was take away any nuggets of wisdom that I could from this visit, and there were two. One, he shared with me that one of the things they find lacking in Fibro patients is dopamine, which is why they want to use nerve related medications (I’ve been prescribed Nortriptyline, Gabapentin,¬†Venlafaxine, Pregabalin, etc). Secondly,¬†he shared that¬†studies have come out as recently as last month saying that moderate activity is extremely important, which is what led to his insulting comments about my current lack of fitness. I mean, he’s not wrong about it, but his assumption that I never been an athlete wasn’t cool.

So in summary, it’s worth it to keep going and keep listening to the Doctors, even when I don’t necessarily agree, or find great results with, their treatment plans. It keeps me connected to all types of medicine and research (because I firmly believe all information is valuable), and that some of the things they prescribe can be helpful. I walked out of the office with a prescription for yet another medication, but also aquatic therapy (good stuff) and some more knowledge in my arsenal to fight Fibro. Come back and read Thursday’s post, where I am going to explain how I am upping my dopamine levels naturally, and the positive results I am already getting!

In Warmth – Bobbie