Living with multiple chronic conditions has changed many things in my life, including what I expect from a vacation. Psoriatic arthritis, fibromyalgia, and endometriosis often create havoc before, during, and after each trip. I may not be able to escape my conditions for a week, but I can still have a fabulous getaway by having realistic expectations. Here are five unrealistic vacation expectations and how I turned them around.
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1. Being able to participate in daily activities or outings.
I struggle to leave the house more than a few days in a row. When I am able to those outings are usually short in duration. I am also cautious about how much I am pushing myself physically in order to lessen the amount of recovery time. Expecting my body to do something on vacation that it can’t do at home is ridiculous. Accepting that I may end up spending one or all of my vacation in bed makes getting out of the hotel room that much more gratifying.
2. Having to do everything planned
Unless the others in my party want to schedule a day of rest, I plan activities for each day of our trip. I don’t do this expecting to be able to partake in them myself, instead, I do it for them. By filling our calendar I ensure that they are going to experience new and exciting things and I increase my odds of being able to join them for at least one. No matter how little I am able to do, the memories made from what I could do comforts me when I have to stay behind.
3. Being able to go wherever I want, when I want
Not all vacation destinations are a realistic option. Instead of choosing a destination based on an emotional desire, I try to choose climates that won’t aggravate my conditions. For example: Choosing to go somewhere that has extreme heat and humidity guarantees that I will be miserable. The chance of my doing anything with my traveling companions if I book a vacation where my pain level will be worse than it is at home is next to none. A trip to Florida in the summer would be disastrous. However, I don’t have to let that keep me from Disney World, instead, I will plan my visit during a cooler season.
4. Thinking that nothing will go wrong
I used to assume that my pre-vacation pain level is what I would have to deal with while away. Having a flare-up wasn’t something that I planned for. The reality is, especially with chronic illnesses, is that our conditions can turn on us for no reason. In the past, my husband and I had to scramble to find items when a flare hit. Once I began packing with my worst physical possibilities in mind I was able to have a better vacation experience. Being prepared reduces my stress. I may or may not need everything I bring, but when I do need it I don’t have to suffer more than necessary.
5. Expecting to return home with little or no increase of pain
When everything you do is painful, it is unrealistic to think you can go on vacation and return without an elevated pain level. Instead of being able to jump back into my daily life I need to recover from my trip. This used to frustrate and depress me. So much so that I found any reason possible to not travel. By changing my post-vacation expectations I was finally able to look forward to getting away. Expecting my pain level to be off the chart, I schedule one or two weeks off after returning home.
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