Sunday, April 12, 2015

When the Fibro Flares

"Inspiring you to Reinvent Yourself"

Dear Friends, 

I planned a month of driving, visiting, meeting strangers, eating out and on-the-go, and sleeping different homes: NY, NJ, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, GA, SC, NC, VA, MD, DE, PA, NJ, NY. I knew that Fibro fatigue would catch up with me and Fibro pain would strike. So I planned for broken plans, sprinkling several longer than necessary stops throughout the trip so that I could rest. 

I build in flexibility, knowing that my body would insist on taking control. 

(Fibro/chronic pain travel hint #1)

What happened was a quick onset, stress induced Flaming Fibro Flare just south of Orlando. 

Orlando was meant to be my three-night rest stop. 

When Couch Surfing, I request to stay where a bed in one's own room is offered. I can nap at will and groan in pain to my Fibro heart's content. (Fibro/chronic pain travel hint #2)

I made Couch Surfing plans that sounded great with a wonderfully reviewed host, who turns out to be a terrific and interesting man with a lovely girl friend to boot. And an artist and a man who has turned every room of his house into a renovation zone. I needed guidance to walk through. 

Belongings were piled everywhere. I snaked my arms past a wall of half filled paint-rinsing jars to wash my hands. While "my" bedroom was the neatest and the bed was nicely made, there were still things piled and leaning every which way.

Some of you know that I spent many years living with a hoarder. Not a fun experience; sometimes a horrible one. So, while I make no judgment on my host's relationship with things, I felt deeply uncomfortable in his home.

First, I took a brief nap. (Remember, my energy was already wearing thin; this was meant to be my recuperation stop.) When I awoke, I found myself lingering in bed. 

An inner dialogue began: I'll just stay in bed until tomorrow. That would be rude. Where would I sit out there? I can't stay here! Well, you can't insult them, they opened their home to you. I feel myself sinking. Stay the night and find another place tomorrow. 

A pause, and then a different inner voice. The health superego I've been trying to develop, the one who guards me against wantonly putting others before myself: 

You cannot stay the night. Your anxiety is rising and you will end up in a huge Fibro flare. You're already on the brink of one, which is why you're not thinking straight, but really, Rosenheck, you must leave now. Sit up. Good. Put your things back in your bag. Good. and now, go out to the living room and say something. You can do this.

"Hi," I began. "I need to share something. I lived with a hoarder for a long time and while I know that you're in the middle of renovations, the amount of clutter here is bringing on an anxiety attack. I'm sorry, I cannot stay with you. If not for my background, I'd be excited to learn about all the work you're doing on the house. But I have to go. I'm so sorry."

They understood. They wanted me to be comfortable. They asked where I'd stay. I threw out the name of a place nearby, though I'd not made plans. I grabbed my bags, slipped past mounds of things following my host to the door, and practically ran out. 

From the car, I booked a last minute hotel deal nearby. 

When using AirBNB and Couch Surfing to travel, have a just-in-case budget available for an inexpensive hotel room. Keep Priceline's app handy on your phone to book an immediately available room with express deals at 50-60% off their normal prices.

(Fibro/chronic pain travel hint #3)

I couldn't forestall the anxiety attack; it arrived full force just as I was driving away. I pulled into a gas station to let it safely work its way through my body. I cleaned every bit of rubbish out of the car, reorganized my snacks bag, and strove to slow my breathing. When I felt calmer, I drove to the hotel and spent three days and two nights in a blessedly clean room riding out a major Fibro flare.

I got myself out of an unhealthy situation and into a restorative one after only an hour or so of hesitation. This was huge!

I continued my trip the day I felt well again. Made one more stop before reaching my folks' place. Spent hours catching up on freelance work in the Co-Op Cafe, a fantastic natural foods place in Fort Pierce, FL, Watched pelicans swan dive for fish off a pier. Got another good night's sleep. Then, at last, I arrived in Boca and fell into my mom's compassionate arms, just in time to help with the Passover preparations. 

by Mary Theresa Streck, former nun, hopeful future Catholic priest

Hope you all had a terrific holiday. Mine was just right! 

Love, Rhonda