Traveling has been difficult for me the past few years. However, I finally managed to take a trip this week. Until I did, I hadn’t realized how high maintenance I’d become.
I actually giggled as I packed my suitcase chock full of the items I would need to maintain a minimal level of comfort. I cannot tolerate being cold, nor can I tolerate being too warm. Because the temperatures at my destination had been so variable lately, it meant packing for either extreme. This included long pants as well as shorts, short-sleeved shirts, and also sweaters. For sleeping, both a short nightie and a long-sleeved, long-length gown. Crazy, right?
My worst recent pain is from occipital neuralgia, which is commonly precipitated by a stiff, painful neck. Prevention is easier than treatment. It requires heat and my special pillow to stave it off. I considered bringing my heating pad, but changed my mind in order to close the suitcase. I opted for Tiger Balm and a soft cervical pillow instead.
Anxiety (as can occur with flight delays, lost luggage, and the many horrors modern-day airports inflict) can cause my back and neck muscles to tighten, pulling a cervical vertebrae close enough to the nerve below it to cause excruciating pain. In order to be prepared for this result, I packed my palm urchin to relax a possible muscle spasm, along with the necessary pain medication to keep me functional in the event that it occurred.
Being gluten- and lactose-intolerant is yet another travel challenge. Knowing I would be traveling a minimum of five hours each way, I had to consider that I might not find appropriate food en route. To prevent GI distress or the weakness that comes from low blood sugar, I also packed fresh fruit, granola bars, goat cheese, and gluten-free crackers. In the event the stress of the trip caused my irritable bowel syndrome to flare, I carried a change of clothing in my purse at all times.
My sensitive skin requires a special face soap that cleans without leaving me looking sunburned. That, along with the soft washcloth used to apply it, were also necessities. Speaking of being sunburned, all but one sunscreen leaves my face stiff and sore. That item was included as well.
And then there’s the matter of shoes. I discovered long ago that the best prevention to ankle, knee, and hip pain is to wear very comfortable, well-padded shoes (think Brooks running shoes). However, given that I was scheduled to attend an evening event that required dressing up a bit, runners alone wouldn’t do. I needed a substitute for that occasion.
In the end, I packed enough for my two-night stay to suffice a seasoned traveler for a month in Europe. I wondered whether I’d become a prima donna (a quality I don’t consider attractive). After careful consideration, I chose to accept that I have fibromyalgia – a central nervous system disorder characterized by supersensitivity. In the words of my old friend, Popeye, “I yam what I yam!”
Oh, and did I mention? I’m delighted to be back home.
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