Taking a Spring Break vacation with chronic illness presents many challenges. Because my children are all on break this week, we planned a trip to visit them out-of-state. I’m learning the hard way, that when you suffer with chronic illness, much more planning is necessary to enjoy the trip.
Driving long distances in a small car is very difficult when you have Ehlers Danlos and my other health problems. I have all the symptoms of POTs or dysautonomia. I’m staying on my vegan diet, but have been feeling terrible most of the time. I’m sure if you deal with these illnesses, you’ve had a hard time with traveling, too.
When traveling many hours, the natural tendency is to limit fluids. Nobody wants to stop for a bathroom break every hour. It really slows down progress on the road. We broke up our trip with a hotel night, and that should help. When you have trouble sleeping in a new place with a bad mattress, then you just added lack-of-sleep to your health problems.
When you have many diet restrictions, eating on the road is a nightmare. Pulling through a fast-food drive-through lane, isn’t going to get you through the day. In fact, eating food that makes you feel worse can give you many sick days, afterward. I packed food, but I still didn’t have enough healthy food to make the entire trip.
As many of us suffer from temperature intolerances, this has been my biggest hardship. The car heat was unbearable to me, even though we were driving through snow and sleet. Arriving at our host’s home was the worst thing. Older relatives keep their home temperature set on 77 or higher. I packed clothes to stay cool in the house. But, I needed to bring even less warm clothes. I should have brought tank-tops and shorts. Spending all day dripping in sweat makes me miserable and I feel sicker from the heat.
It’s also hard to eat the right foods when visiting others, because I can’t totally control the meal schedule or menu. I’m doing the best I can, but feel worse every day. At least, I’m learning what to do differently next time.
- Pack clothes for every weather/temperature conditions
- Drink more fluids
- Eat more salt
- Bring more healthy snacks
- Bring all my pain-relieving gadgets from home
Even though I thought that I could live without certain things for 1 week, I was wrong. From now on, I’ll pack and prepare for the worst. Traveling can set off a flare and can that can ruin your trip. Being flexible is necessary, but hard.
@2017, copyright Lisa Ehrman