Vacations: A Harsh Reality of Chronic Illness

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Over the weekend my husband and I took a short vacation to Louisville, KY to celebrate our 15th anniversary and spend some quality time together. I did have a good time, but I must admit that I dread and sometimes even regret vacations just as much as I look forward to them.

Why? Simple. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Vacationing when you have CFS sucks. Big time. Planning the vacation wears you out. Packing wears you out. The travel wears you out. Even though I don’t do the driving, I am still exhausted by the time we even get to our destination. Often, as soon as we get to our hotel I immediately have to lay down for at least a couple hours to recuperate, even if it is only a 2 or 3 hour drive as this one was.

The main excursion we planned was to the Louisville zoo. We had never been there before and both my husband and I love animals. Luckily, it wasn’t a huge zoo, but by the time we had toured about half of it, I was in really poor shape. I had to sit on each bench we came by and rest. I even had to make do with the floor a few times and just collapsed. I was nauseated, felt like passing out, developed a migraine-like headache, and felt extremely overheated, even though it wasn’t that hot out and I stayed hydrated. Heck, most of the buildings were even air conditioned. THIS is what living with CFS is like.

I didn’t get to see much of the rest of the zoo. I was too busy looking for places to rest and recuperate for the trek back to the car. My legs ached so badly and felt so weak that I feared they would give out on me multiple times. My entire body felt like I had been run over or slammed into by something big and heavy. Somehow I did make it back to the car (after resting many, many times on the way there), and then we went directly to our hotel so I could recuperate for the rest of the day. I didn’t even have the stamina to go out for dinner a few hours later, so we ate at the hotel.

I went to bed early, hoping I would feel better in the morning, which didn’t really happen. The next day we visited a cool indie bookstore I had wanted to go to, but I was almost too tired to even enjoy that. We went and found a place by the Ohio River to sit and watch barges pass by, which was peaceful and relaxing. During the drive times to our locations, I curled up with a pillow and laid my seat back to doze.

By the time we headed back for home, I was too exhausted to care about much of anything. When we arrived home, I went almost straight to bed, even though it was only 5pm. The next day (Labor Day), my hip and back were so sore (with a pinched nerve thrown in), that I spent most of the day laying in bed watching a Lake Placid marathon on the Syfy Channel. Any form of movement was excruciating.

All of this makes me wonder if vacations are really worth the trouble. It also makes me wonder if maybe sometime soon I will need to get a motorized chair to even survive simple outings like this. I hate to give in and do that, but my worsening symptoms make it an almost certain possibility eventually.

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7 thoughts on “Vacations: A Harsh Reality of Chronic Illness

  1. Boy do I relate! We have a cabin and invited a family to spend the weekend up there with us. Even with the family’s father cooking most of the meals and my husband making the breakfasts AND even with my not even washing dishes or cleaning the kitchen AND even with my not going canoeing or hiking, I had to spend most of the time downstairs in my bedroom, just lying on the bed.
    Vacations are similar. I will tell you about my family’s trip to Japan sometime. We do what we can and try not to torture ourselves!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maranda, I have a feeling a lot of us who have mental illnesses can relate. I also can.

    A little over a week ago, my husband and I got back from a two week vacation to Portugal to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. By the way, happy 15th! We had had Portugal in mind for years, because the other time we went it was our very best vacation ever. That was about 15 years ago. This time was just terrible. I haven’t (and won’t) write about it because I don’t want my readers (many of whom are family and friends) to read about its failure. Other than my sister, everyone thinks we had a great time.

    Three days before our vacation I started having headaches and vomiting. I think from nerves. The nausea went away and I tried to be a strong good sport, but it became difficult. Over the vacation, I became manic with mixed features. It started with my husband and I arguing a lot, which is odd for us, then it built up. We walked about 10 times more than we have in many years. My mania allowed me to manage, but it took its toll. I sprained my ankle, but walked miles each day despite. At the end of the day I had a major anxiety attack that the hotel staff witnessed. It came to a head during our flights back.

    In London Heathrow airport I started having a mental breakdown. Everyone was staring at me. I was just ranting very loudly about all kinds of things. Then I thought I came in contact with anthrax. Hubby didn’t think they would let me on the plane, but after loads of extra Ativan and Seroquel I calmed. Hubby started crying loudly on the plan during the flight home. Then in our home airport my ranting began again. Then once home my headaches and nausea came back. Horrible!

    In past vacations, I sometimes stayed in the hotel room a lot.

    With me on disability, we hardly have the money for vacations, but hubby insists. I feel bad.

    I’m sorry your vacation didn’t turn out as well as you hoped. I hope you can celebrate your anniversary again now that you are home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for sharing, and I am truly sorry your vacation and anniversary celebration went so horribly. I do agree that mental illness definitely can ruin vacations too. For this particular vacation, I do think it was more the CFS than my bipolar, although any change in routine always causes a lot of anxiety beforehand and during, which often at least kicks up my IBS symptoms and migraines. Perhaps because of my autism, I also have a hard time staying anywhere else but home and end up taking most of my bedroom with me lol. No joke. I bring all my own blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, etc. to sleep with.

      Liked by 1 person

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