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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PO Box Opening Fun! Cute Sloths, Favorite Anime Series, and New Books!

I recently received a wonderful assortment of goodies from a friend and blog reader named Brian via my PO Box! Most of the time when I receive mail via my PO Box it is either books or products that companies or authors would like me to consider reviewing, but once in a while I do get something just for fun and that is always awesome!

The first item in the box I received was this adorable Easter sloth dressed up in bunny ears! Isn’t he the most adorable thing? I love sloths in general, and Brian knew that since we had exchanged cute sloth videos on Facebook in the past.

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The second gift in the box was this awesome Death Note anime dvd set! It has the complete series, which is awesome since Death Note is my favorite anime series of all time (which is saying something since there are a number of other anime series I love as well)!

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Lastly, since he knows I love books, Brian sent me a cool Batman graphic novel and an art book. The graphic novel is called Hong Kong and starts out with a weird murder plot involving a snake which drew me into the story right away. The art book is called The World of Rubens 1577-1640 and is a compendium of works by the artist Peter Paul Rubens. I was familiar with some of Rubens’ work, but this visual guide definitely widened the scope of his work for me.

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I want to give a big “thank you” to Brian for sending all this neat stuff! I’ve really enjoyed it so far! If anyone else ever wants to send anything via PO Box for me to consider sharing on my blog (or to enjoy privately), here is the address:

Maranda Russell
PO Box 14
Englewood, OH 45322

I am always happy to feature children’s books, toys, candy, cute stuff, and anything related to subjects I blog about frequently, such as mental illness, autism, chronic pain conditions, etc.

A Chance to Support a New Children’s Book Publisher!

Hello everyone! Just a quick post today to share a new YouTube video from my toy & book channel. In this video I had the pleasure to support a new children’s book publisher who I am proud to even have an affiliate link with! “Grandpa and Me” is a fun family tale that teaches the value of hard work and persistence. Watch the video below to find out more!

Here is the affiliate link if you would like to check out the book further yourself or even order a copy: www.http://salutations365.com/affiliate-marandas-toys-and-books-036/.

Pony Gods

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Pony Gods
Written By: Maranda Russell

I pray to the Pony Gods.
I don’t know if they listen,
or even if they care,
but sometimes
they do seem to answer.

Why the Pony Gods?
Why not?

I figure the Pony Gods
have just as much a chance
of being good –
or being real
as the human ones.

On the Railway

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On the Railway
Written by: Maranda Russell

On the railway,
no one studies your face.
No grief is given,
but neither is grace.

The wheels are loud,
and the engine is hot,
bringing to mind
all things better forgot.

With the changing landscapes,
and nature’s colorful hue,
remember this thought
that will always ring true:

On the long ride back
from wherever you roam,
never return the same person
as when you left home.

Fighting Fear

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“Fighting Back from the Inside” drawing by Maranda Russell

Fighting Fear
Written by: Maranda Russell

I took fear by the hand
and shook him until I heard
the sound of his yellow bones
popping in and out of place.

I pushed him down the stairs,
his skull cracking
against the white, stone steps
on his way to the finale.

He hit the basement floor,
his form a worthless gray lump,
emitting the mocking voices
no muzzle can silence.

Still, I must close the door
at least one more time
and pretend not to hear.
So I do.

Depression & Suicidal Thoughts

I’ve been dealing with depression a lot lately, mostly due to unresolved childhood trauma I believe. Today I finally felt at least well enough to make a video talking about some of the things I am going through and wanted to share that in case it might help anyone else struggling. I am also going to share the written version of the poem I read in the video here:

Suicidal Ideations
Written by: Maranda Russell

If I only had a dollar
for every time
I have looked down
from a great height,
shook a full bottle of pills,
held my breath under water,
or inhaled exhaust fumes
while thinking

I could actually do it,
I could end it all –

I would have more
than enough
to pay for all the
therapy sessions
I obviously need.