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.

Horror movies…are you a fan or a foe?

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This weekend I’ve been catching up on my horror movies. Last night I caught a flick that was obviously a SAW knock-off and another movie called “The Bunnyman”, which was about a killer who dressed in a bunny suit (yeah, it was about as scary as it sounds). Tonight, I am watching a movie about spoiled, ungrateful grandkids and their dead grandmother who wants to get revenge for being ignored all her life. Not sure how that one is going to turn out, but guessing that the airheaded girls the boys brought over to party are going to die pretty soon.

Anyhow, catching up on my scary quota has gotten me thinking about the debate around horror movies. Some people believe that horror movies are psychologically damaging and that the violence contained in them encourages violence in real life. Others, such as Stephen King (the master of scary himself) believe that horror movies are just for fun or good for letting off steam. Once I read an essay by King which explained that in his opinion, watching horror movies gives us a “safe” way to get out our baser emotions and instincts so that we don’t act on those feelings in real life.

My opinion is that horror movies are often good for a laugh (many of them are more funny than scary). I also think that horror movies can be a good way to feel better about your own life since (hopefully) you aren’t currently being tortured or murdered. I do think many horror movies are stupid and pointless which may be why I prefer psychological thrillers and supernatural scaryness to the predictable “slasher” flicks. I also prefer ones that have some kind of good triumphing against evil in the end. I don’t really enjoy movies where all the “good guys” die in the end because there seems to be no real resolution. Of course, those are personal preferences though.

So, how do you feel about horror movies?