One thing seems to be consistent for Hubby and me: We always over pack! Maybe you are thinking that is not a big deal, but remember, the more you pack, the more you have to carry, load and unload several times, and the more you have to put up when you get home. I do not know about you, but none of that sounds much like vacationing. To me, it sounds like work! I am going to share with you my current, ever evolving notions on packing.
Check the weather before you start packing.
Today we are blessed in that forecasters predict the weather several weeks out. Granted, they are not always accurate, but there is a good chance they will be in the ball park regarding temperatures. Once I have an idea of the expected range of temperatures, I start planning accordingly. If it is the end of one season and the beginning of another, I do go ahead and pack one outfit that fits the possible variation. For example, this trip we are supposed to have temperatures in the 80's. I am taking capris and short sleeves, however I am including a pair of jeans in case we do have some unexpected cool temperatures, which is highly possible at the end of April.
Determine what type of clothing you need.
Once I know the expected weather, I then move on to what type of clothing I need to take. This trip, we have no formal plans that require dressing up, so packing was very easy. I am taking clothing that does not wrinkle, that I will be comfortable in, and that is machine washable. I do not have to be picky about how I put them in the suite case like I do when packing formal clothing that wrinkles easily. I always take a light jacket, usually my denim one, because it will go with about any casual wear and it is light to medium weight. I also keep a raincoat and umbrella in the car. Vacationing almost always involves a good bit of walking so I take practical, comfortable shoes and I take as few pairs as possible. They tend to take up a lot of room in the suite case and are quickly add to the weight of my bags. Luckily this time, again since we have no plans that require dressy shoes, I have determined I will only need the shoes I am going to be wearing when I leave for the trip.
More tips on packing next time!
Start packing early.
I cannot stress this enough. You wanted to be rested up for your trip and you do not want any last minute stress to tire you or throw you into a fibro flare. A couple of weeks before the trip, I do the first two steps of checking the weather and determining what type of clothing I will need, and then I actually start packing. I keep the size of suite case I will need on a bed in one of our guest rooms. As I do laundry and come across items or when I just decide on something I know I want to wear, I put it in the suite case right then. I check the weather the day before I leave and adjust what I have packed accordingly, as needed. When it is time to go, I make one last review of my suite case's contents, zip it up, and I am good to go.
Will you be able to do laundry while on your trip?
This is a major deal to me. We frequently use our condo which have a washer and dryer. Also, many hotels have them as well. If I know that washing clothing is a reasonable option, I do not stress nearly as much about possibly forgetting something. Nor do I over pack just in case I spill something or such. This decreases my stress wonderfully! Also, I usually wash everything the night before returning home. It does not take long, and the washer and dryer can be going while having dinner, going to a show, etc. It always comes as such a relief to know that when I walk in the door after being away, basically everything I have is clean and ready to put away.
Well, like all great plans, this one too got changed, making "flexibility" just as important when planning a vacation, whether you have Fibromyalgia (FMS) or not. I am glad this happened in a way because I do like to point out that while having FMS does make things more complicated, everyone has to plan, deal with issues, etc. We are not that much different from everyone else. In fact, I have found that when I discuss what it is like to travel with me, most people let their guard down and start admitting what it is like to travel with them, and it usually turns out that I am not that much different than others.
I have to stay hydrated or my pain greatly increases.
This means I have to stop to use the bathroom more than some people like to do. While there are those who get behind the wheel and do not want to stop until they get to their destination, once I speak up about this, I find most other people have to stop for this reason too. They do not feel comfortable admitting it sometimes and are actually glad when I bring it up.
I have to stop at least every two hours and stretch.
If I stay in a car, seated for over two hours, I can hardly walk once the car stops. In truth, everyone needs to stretch to prevent blood clots, so again, I am just bringing up what we all really need to do anyway. This also applies if you are on a plan, the train, etc. I have to walk up and down the isles a bit, do some stretching, etc. I do not worry about what others think. And yes, others usually follow once I start here too!
I am often unsafe to drive.
I know most of you can relate to this. If I become "fibro-foggy", I am not safe to be behind the wheel. This can happen to me just going seven miles to Walmart, but I am close enough to home manage it. An actual road trip, however, does not work that way. For that reason, I never do a road trip alone. Most the time I am with my husband and he does all of the driving. When he is not going, like this time, I make sure I have at least one other person with me who can drive. Sometimes, I just let them do all the driving, but if I do drive, I switch up with them when we stop. This works out very well when you stop at least every two hours.
I have heated seats and a neck pillow and consider them a necessity!
Having heated seats keeps my muscles loose, especially if it is colder weather. This is so important to me that I actually spend the extra money every time a buy a new car for this feature. Again, I am not that much different from others. My husband also benefits from the heated seats. A lot of people have discovered how much they help, so a lot people have them. Speak up! If you are with them, they will not mind if you turn the heat on. If they do not have heated seats, you can buy a heated seat cushion designed for cars. It is a great investment.
I also keep a "beanbag neck pillow" in the car. As long as I have it, I can actually get a bit of decent sleep in the car. I also use it though if I just start having some neck pain from just sitting.
I do have to eat!
I have medications I must take, plus if I do not eat regularly, my blood sugar plummets, and I become very weak, shaky, mentally foggy, etc. I do not have to have a big meal all the time, but I do need to have something every few hours. I pack protein bars, snack bars, etc. for this very reason. You know what is coming: most other people have to do the same thing! A lot of people have meds to take that required food or suffer with low blood sugar if they go too long without eating. Therefore, again, most people are glad when I speak up about this.
I need to remain calm because stress is on of my main triggers for fibro flares.
For this reason, I plan carefully, and try to anticipate every possible problem that could come up.
For example, I said earlier that our plans had to change this time. It turns out we cannot leave until tomorrow morning instead of leaving today, driving half way, then getting a hotel. To deal with it, we are leaving early enough that we can stop to use the restroom whenever needed as well as stop every two hours to stretch. It makes for an early start, but it is necessary if I am going to be able to enjoy the vacation once I actually arrive at my destination! Other than just altering our plans at the last minute, however, I had planned! I anticipated this could happen and had my contingency plan in mind. I was prepared for this rather than being taken by surprise and getting all worked up and stressed out over it.
Other than remaining flexible, adaptable, and having contingency plans in place, I also pick who I travel with carefully when it comes to temperament. Vacations are to enjoy, not fight, disagree, yell, or be ugly to each other in some other way. If at all avoidable, I simple will not travel with people like this. I understand that we all have our own ways, but when you are on a trip for three, four, seven or ten days, certainly all of us can just overlook some things others do that annoy us. If necessary, one can always just walk away and simmer down rather than causing a scene or making the trip stressful for everyone. This is one reason why my husband and I enjoy cruises. You can do things together with others as well as go off on your own at times to avoid getting on each other's nerves. It works very well for trips with extended family. But whether I am planning a cruise, a road trip, a train trip, whatever, I make it clear up front when I travel with someone that this is my expectation. No fussing, talking badly to one another, etc., creating a tense, uncomfortable situation. The stress ruins my vacation plus lingers after the vacation, totally defeating the point of the vacation.
It is a relief when you find that other people have similar needs when they travel. It even feels good when, by speaking up, you are the reason they enjoy their trip more. However, I try to not to just spring this information on people when we are actually loading up in the car to go. I tell everyone up front that traveling with someone who has FMS is slower paced. If this is not acceptable to them, I do not strain our relationships over this, I just plan my trips with those that also enjoy a slower pace. So whether you get to pick who you are traveling with or not, do not be shy about speaking up to others about your trip requirements. As you can see, more people than you expect will be in agreement with what you say and happy to accommodate you!
Having Fibromyalgia (FMS) certainly seems to rob us of many things. I purposely chose the word "seems" rather than "does" because, like with most things in LIFE, I believe we can find alternative ways to accomplish most goals. From experience, I know Vacationing fits this category. But before we get into the "how", I would like to discuss the "why" a bit.
The first reason why vacationing is important to us is the obvious: We all need to get away. You have to take care of yourself before you can be good for anyone else. When you have FMS, this is especially true. Do not think that because you cannot make the money you used to make or do as much as you used to do that you do not deserve getting away.
The second reason is a bit less obvious sometimes: Most of us share our fibroLIFE with others, and THEY NEED vacations too! Spouses still need romantic get-a-ways with us. Children still need family fun trips. Our parents and friends still want to go places, see things, and LIVE dreams with us in far away places, etc.
If you are thinking they "whys" make since but the "how" is not so easily managed, well you are correct. I am certainly not going to tell you that traveling is easy when you suffer from pain, fatigue, brain fog, and mood issues. I am going to tell you however that there are things you can do make travel doable! More than telling you, though, I am going to share my next week or so with you, as usual.
In the morning, about 9:30, Momma arrives at the Amtrak Station in Yazoo, Mississippi. ("If I'm lyin', I'm dyin'!" for those of old enough to know why I said that!) On Sunday, we are heading out to Gatlinburg, Tn. I am going to share how I manage such a trip. As always, I will honestly tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly!
I will not start preparing for the trip tomorrow or the next day, however. I started preparing weeks ago! This is the first point I want to make: Preparation is essential!
This trip has been pretty simple to pre-plan because I only have to pack for myself, it is relatively short, will involve only casual clothing, and is not on a strict schedule. All of the above steps are extremely crucial when Hubby and I are traveling. Good news! We will be in June, July, and August! Yes, I will share those trips with you as well! Before this summer is over, I will make fibro-Travel believers out of you!
Blessings this day and everyday!
Remember, LIVE your fibroLIFE!
Blogging Old School! Curious?
Yesterday Hubby and I were on the road several hours, giving me a good bit of time to think. Yes, I am going to share a lot of that with you.
What is blogging?
Wow, that is one of those questions that everyone thinks they know the answer to until you ask them! I was blogging before people we were using the term "blogging" on a regular basis. Seriously, I was writing frankly, as I do now, about LIVING with Fibromyalgia (FMS) online back in the 90's. Back then, most of us just shared whatever we were thinking that day, whatever we were going through, or we were giving a response to a question or post made by someone else. As time went on, that evolved into posting articles and explaining them, developing longer articles ourselves and breaking them up into a series, recommending other resources, etc.
Now, blogging is mostly the more "formal" aspects of all of those things we were doing. Yes, people are sharing their personal stories and experiences, but almost everything is written very professionally. There are resources on "how to" blog that recommend not posting until you have a "series" of articles "ready to go" so your blog "flows", building up to selling a book you have written, a program you have put together, an online class, or personal coaching, etc.
I want to say upfront that I see nothing wrong with that! In fact, it was a concept I saw the potential for from my first days of "blogging before we knew we were blogging". Writing articles that give information but also point to sources for more information that is not free is certainly savvy but that does not make it a bad thing. It is honest, fair, etc. People have the choice of just accepting what you share for free or spending money to get more and, by now, almost everyone knows to expect it to be this way.
Other options being taught are to make money from your blog by having ads associated with it. For every ad that is clicked on, you make a bit of money. Yes, it can make a page a bit busy looking but other than that this is also savvy and honest.
Why Am I Blogging...Again?
I know I have openly discussed this with you more than once. I suppose it is a throwback to my original days of blogging where we really did just share what we were thinking and feeling. I realize it does not fit with today's models. It is self-indulgent, and by now, frankly probably boring to most. But, it really reveals who I am to you--and those who know me in person know, I am "very real" with people. Other than that, however, it does fit with what fibroLIFE is: An example of the actual LIFE of someone who has FMS and is trying to LIVE it to the fullest, in spite of having FMS. So, I have decided to go ahead and share my thoughts, again: Why am I blogging...again?
Sometimes, y'all, I know, it is not professional of me, but it is how I would talk to you if you were here, so, y'all, SOMETIMES it is so clear to me. Other times, the fatigue, fibro fog, and self-doubt takes over and I find myself lost. Honestly, one minute the entire future of fibroLIFE is flowcharted out in my head, but in the blink of an eye, it is all lost. I keep telling myself I am going to get it all written out when it comes to me, just as I used to do and have taught so many others to do, but it always seems to come to me when I cannot just stop and do that. When finally I can, it is no longer clear. I have gone ahead and put down what I could remember, but I falter. I get things wrong, I get confused, I forget key aspects, and I forget that some things have to be done in a particular order--I even forget who my target audience actually is. The truth is, some days I have blogged in error. Not in the information I share with you. I make sure to always share from trusted resources, but I falter in my own plans-- in the direction I indicate that I am heading or what my "big picture" is.
Crying now. No, not to be dramatic, garner sympathy, or anything like that. Seriously, I am openly humiliating myself for all of cyber-word to read to OPENLY LIVE my fibroLIFE before you. I want you to see, you are not the only one. I want you to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that FMS puts others through the same daily trials that you are face.
If I was anything in my past life, it was an organized planner, with vision--big vision. Even a few years ago, I could map out comprehensive plans clearly. I failed to complete them because I did not have the energy--not because I was not able to come up with them. Keep in mind please, I know I have had FMS my whole life, so I am saying that EVEN with FMS, I was able to do this. Just a couple of years back, I still had days that I was "on"--that I was "me". I miss "me".
I hate FMS, and I really miss "ME". Despite so much of the research saying that FMS is not progressive--that it does not affect us in a progressive manner, that we do not "get worse"--I personally have experienced a decline. My fatigue is more frequent and harder to bounce back from. While I may not be totally foggy all the time, formulating comprehensive plans as I used to has become so very difficult for me. It is like the fog now clears away less completely than it used to. I falter far more often, not even realizing it, because the fog is not necessarily so "thick" that I cannot think, but it is there just enough to make me "less sharp".
Why Would Anyone Keep Reading When a Blogger Admits This?
Ah, why indeed!
Well, I assure you, I do not think you should continue to follow me because I am anything particularly special! Yes, I still know I am intelligent with a background and experience that will allow me to help others, but there are a LOT of others who are all of that and more. I read their works, I see what they are doing and realize that I am now struggling so very hard to produce anything close to the level of quality they are, the degree of importance, etc.
Crying...dear God, I miss ME! But...
In truth, I have never been one to blend in! Never! So, actually, I AM being ME, still! A different version--because we all change--but yet we stay the same. True to form, I am not like anyone else out there--and that is why I am not going away and I am bold enough to ask you to stick with me. No one else is "blogging old school" anymore. I am. I am openly sharing with all who want to read it just how a fibroLIFE looks, feels, fails--and succeeds, changes, etc. Whether you have FMS, you have friends or family with FMS, or you just want to know more about it, I have not found anyone else online who is providing this degree of insight into their fibroLIFE.
I am not the ME I used to be. I am mourning that--the new losses I am experiencing--in the open. I am sharing how, in spite of this latest loss, I am continuing to LIVE my fibroLIFE, CHOOSING to do so as a happy person, not as a defeated, bitter, miserable person, not taking my pain, loss, etc. out on others. I am "leading you by example" to stay positive and find new ways to be productive. And my tears have dried--I am smiling--because if ever I have been anything in life--anyone in life--this is what I have always done and who I have always been: Doing things a bit differently than others.
So, take that FMS--I am SILL "ME"!
I am not going anywhere folks. I am going to figure this out--my LIFE--day by day, right here for you all to see, failures, mis-turns, and all!
I am not the same, but I am still "me", in spite of Fibromyalgia. You are not the same, but, like me, you can still be "you", in spite of Fibromyalgia.
I am not just telling you that I am doing this, I am SHOWING you.
Blessings all! Have a great day!
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December 31st, 1969
Another blogger with chronic health issues recently posted about her friends saying she writes too much and too often about her health. Boy, have I ever heard that one! I have found that statement, and those like it, actually mean this:
They really do NOT understand WHY I write about Fibromyalgia and HOW Fibromyalgia makes ME feel.
One could suppose that I am arrogant to think that, with all the other people writing about Fibromyalgia, what I have to say is important enough for a blog, a facebook page, or a book, etc. In fact, several years back, a well-known person in the "Fibromyalgia World" asked me that question. Because of my daily limited energy and the need to set my priorities, I have actually stopped several times. Each time I made up my mind to stop doing this, I would come across people not finding the help they are looking for in the existing options available to them. I am not arrogant, but I am unique.
Full disclosure here:
I wrote a couple of those books myself. I expected others to read them, work through them, and apply it to their lives. It took me over ten years and a lot of help to write them. It took me less than one day of looking at the works with "fresh eyes" to realize I was being totally unreasonable and impractical! So, yes, I made the same mistake I see so many others making.
My goal now is to apply what I learned from my own former mistakes to help others who are facing what I have faced myself: Trying to find the best way possible to LIVE a fibroLIFE! That is why I have MesheaCrysup.com, fibroLIFE, and Fibromyalgia Made Simple.
fibroLIFE is dedicated to discussing anything and everything which will help others LIVE to their fullest potential in spite of having Fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia Made Simple is an offshoot of fibroLIFE dedicated to breaking down information about Fibromyalgia, getting diagnosed, tracking symptoms, etc. into small, simple blocks of information and actions that those with Fibromyalgia can actually face--can actually digest and work with.
MesheaCrysup.com is their common ground. It also provides a place for expansion.
Folks, I struggle like each of you. Today, I accomplished a fraction of what I wanted to do. For once my head is clear of the fog--I know what I want to say and do--but the energy just is not there. Like you, I know that it is a rare day when both the energy is present and the fog is not. I wanted to just cry. I wanted to just give up. I am so tired--so very drained.
But, I also remember when I was so very ill and no one
knew why. I remember feeling so alone, lost, helpless, and hopeless. I remember the ten years of struggling basically on my own figuring it all out. I remember the few people online that were actually helpful because they were REAL and they really understood.
So, I dried my eyes and dug in my heels.
I write about LIVING my fibroLIFE...
I am open and honest about LIVING my fibroLIFE...
because someone out there will benefit from it.
If I help just one person, then it is worth it all! However those who know me know I never think small! Join me. Comment. Share the posts. Tell others about us. Working together, we can help many others, all around the world!
Thank you for sharing some of your precious time with me today.
December 31st, 1969