Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fibromyalgia and Traveling (A Few Hints and Tips)

Hello Everyone!

Recently my family went through our summer routine and brought my step-children back home to Nebraska after their visit. (P.S. - I MISS THEM SO MUCH!! AUUUUUGH!!)  We spent almost two weeks back home visiting family and up to our necks in activities, hustle, and bustle. A family reunion, a yard renovation, family games, the zoo, a day at the lake with tubing and boating.... wow! We did A LOT!

Of course, because of my "little friend" the Fibromonster and it's "buddy" Allodynia, I needed to take special precautions and measures to ensure that I could A.) keep up  B.) avoid a flair C.) avoid a major case of pain and fatigue on the drive to and from home across country.  It's no easy task and it takes planning and care to manage.

I want to share some of my little "doodads", tips and tricks for managing a busy vacation. Now of course all of us are unique and our diseases are different in the way they manifest in each of our bodies so this is general information that you can tailor to meet your own individual needs. I'm all about easy, "just in case", and the least amount of stress possible.

1.) MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH OF YOUR MEDICATION ON HAND. Plan ahead and be sure that you even take a little extra "just in case". You never know if weather or transportation will be a problem and cause a delay in your travel plans. ALWAYS TAKE EXTRA. I usually take an extra 3 days worth of medication with me.

Also, I NEVER take whole bottles of prescription medications with me. I transfer what I need to a secondary prescription bottle (saved when I refilled my prescription) and leave the rest at home. That way if there is a situation where I lose my meds, I always have immediate backup at home that can be sent to me. You may find this extreme, but just take a look at the weather patterns across the U.S. in the past year and you may think twice. Even in other countries there seems to be unusual weather patterns and disasters (in my opinion). It's not worth taking the risk of having your disease flair up and debilitate you in an unplanned situation if there is a way to have backup.

2.) Take extra comfort measures. What do I mean? Well, for instance I use ThermaCare Heat Wraps to keep my muscles warmed up and loose when I feel over tight or especially painful. There are a variety of wraps for different areas of the body and the heating mechanisms last for a good 8 hours. I've tried other heat wraps and I just don't like them as much as ThermaCare because they don't last as long. I swear by this product. (I get nothing to endorse this product, I just happen to love them and don't mind promoting them at all.)

Another comfort measure I take is a really good and comfortable pillow that I use at home. (Or purchase an extra one like the one you use at home) For me, this saves A LOT of headache, neck ache and frustration. Having the "right" pillow on vacation can make things go much, much smoother for you and really, it only takes up a little extra space. (*Now, if you are flying and you don't want to carry on or pack your pillow in a suitcase, plan to send your pillow(and even extra items) ahead or make sure there is a store that carries the one you need to purchase when you get there. Trust me... it makes all the difference.)

Take along extra over the counter medications that will help you feel better on your trip. Who wants the hastle of the ever present overactive stomach, bladder, headaches, muscle tension...etc without an immediate and reachable "buddy" to help you out? I personally take (and don't laugh here because I've saved myself a heck of a lot of trouble. OK, laugh a little, but still take the stuff with you!) 

Here's a few essentials that are on my list:
A.) chewable Pepto-Bismol tablets (or generic version)
B.) Dulcolax stool softener (or generic version)
C.) Excedrine Migraine (or generic version)
D.) chewable vitamin C.
E.)Arnica for muscle pain. (You can find it in most health food stores such as Sprouts)
F.) chewable Junior Tylenol for the kids. (or generic version)
G.) Uristat or a similar remedy for a urinary tract infections (*or take cranberry supplements with you for a daily dose to maintain a natural balance in the body)
H.) Band-aids of all sizes AND Friction Block stick by Band-aid. (This product is AWESOME for your feet! I keep mine in my purse to keep my feet from blistering.)

Some other "buddies" to consider are: anti-nausea medication, motion sickness help, ear plugs, a sleep mask, anti-snoring helps, contact lens cleaners/re-wetting drops, sinus medications, allergy medications, etc...

Keep your "buddies" in an accessible place/bag that is near to you either on the plane or in the vehicle. It takes a lot of stress away when you know help & comfort is an arms length away. You may think I'm being overly dramatic, but try it and see. It's worth it to have things on hand that you don't have to worry about going out and finding later or when you're in a bind. Get travel sizes and minis perhaps so that you're not stuck with tons of bottles and boxes taking up huge amounts of space or putting a dent in your wallet. There are all kinds of inexpensive organizers out there that can easily accommodate a nice little portable way to keep everything easily accessible and manageable.

Keep your clothing and shoe choices realistic with your activity level and body pain management. If you know you're going to need more comfy clothes rather than dressy restrictive clothing, then find stylish but comfortable clothing and shoes to take with you. You know yourself best. I personally take 2 outfits that are super comfy and stretchy because there are days when I need to wear soft and stretchy clothing that allows my muscles to relax. You know what I mean. Sometimes a pair of sweats and a soft cotton T-shirt paired with tennis-shoes is just right. The key is to dress in a way that works for pain management but still makes you feel good about yourself so that you can relax and make the most each day and activity. Remember one of my favorite sayings: "Fight for your quality of life!"...

3.) Don't allow yourself to rush, push too hard, or take on more that you can handle at one time.  Look, fibromyalgia and/or allodynia, or CFS is hard enough to deal with. You have it/them, period. If other's don't want to accept it, deal with it, or make a few accommodations to help you, then you have to stand up for yourself and protect yourself as much as possible. (*this applies to daily life as well.) You may have to sit out of an activity, or you may have to make a few extra stops if you're traveling by vehicle. Maybe an extra nap or two will be in order. Who knows? The point is..... TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF so you can enjoy your time and be able to participate as much as possible.

So what about you? What travel tips and hints do you have to share? Post some of them here for all of us to read and take advantage of. I'm always looking for good ideas and suggestions to make fighting for my quality of life a little easier. PLUS I want to share with my readers too!

Remember what I said earlier... you ARE NOT alone. Don't suffer in silence. Find ways to reach out and connect with others who are going through what you are going through. There is strength to be found in the understanding of another who shares your situation.  (((HUG)))

Have a blessed day today : )
Sherri