For years, I avoided travel because of painful past experiences. I concluded that it wasn’t a good thing for fibromyalgia sufferers like me. I recently changed my thinking after a short visit to my son, who lives an hour’s flight away.
I’d been anxious about the trip, anticipating the stress of travel, my inevitable lack of sleep, and accompanying increase in pain while away from home. However, the outcome was the opposite of what I’d expected.
My journey proceeded without a hitch: no flight delays, no overcrowded planes, no long waits for my luggage or a Lyft. My packing left room for improvement, however, as anticipating the clothing needs for my temperature-sensitive body is always a challenge. And my experience is often different than the weatherman’s predictions.
Poor sleep was my other primary concern. As a true insomniac, my home is equipped with a large assortment of sleep aids. In addition to my beloved organic latex mattress, I rely on an ocean sounds machine, a library full of bedtime reading that’s not too stimulating, room-darkening shades, and many pillow variations ranging from very firm to very soft in various shapes for my neck, knees, and shoulder. How could I possibly sleep without all of my “stuff”?
Surprisingly, I slept better there than I usually do at home. I was so busy from morning till night that at the end of each day, I fell into bed and slept like a baby.
Don’t be fooled into concluding that physical exertion is the answer to my sleep problems. My downfall is a lack of endurance. It wouldn’t be long before the uniqueness of the situation and my delight at being with my family would begin to wear off. Fatigue would set in.
At that point, constant demands on my energy would become draining rather than energizing. Though my role was strictly as an observer, I would become exhausted at the continual management and chauffeuring of three athletic children to and from their sports activities while ensuring that they eat healthy meals, attend scheduled play dates, complete homework assignments, and sleep the required number of hours.
I’d begin to decline to attend an outing here and there, opting for much-needed rest instead. That downtime would get me through the day but would result in less exhaustion at bedtime. Sleep issues would reemerge, accompanied by poor-quality sleep. Pain levels would increase. I’d be back to pacing rather than sleeping at night.
Fortunately, my recent visit ended before that point was reached.
The lesson I’ve learned is that different and busy are both good things for me — in moderation. Changes in activity levels and surroundings are excellent distractions from my fibromyalgia symptoms, up to a point. They allow me to do more than I’m capable of doing at home. And doing more promotes better sleep, thus less pain. The key is to quit while the leaving is still good — before the novelty wears off and my symptoms return to front and center.
I’ll miss my busy family until I’m motivated to take another short trip. Next time, I’ll be less anxious. I’ll know how therapeutic distraction can be. I’ll remember that less is more when measuring time away from home. I’ll be sure to leave while I still cherish the thought of the next visit.
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.
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