For far too long, fibromyalgia, and the accompanying pain, has dominated every aspect of my life. Not only did it force me to stop doing one of the things that I loved, that is, being a trial lawyer, but it also led me to take an involuntary hiatus from my life. In the last 1-1/2 weeks, I realize that I am eager to retake the life that I am meant to live.
When I stopped practicing law, and took disability, I never knew how I would feel from one day to the next. For that reason, I stopped accepting invitations from family or friends, for fear of disappointing them with my all too often declinations or cancellations. After a while, people stopped asking me, and I didn’t blame them for it. I mean, if I had a quarter for every invitation that I’ve declined since I dropped out of life, we would be wealthy, by any standard.
Although I didn’t intend to, I made myself a prisoner in my own life, and it became the norm. I also stopped traveling, even short distances. With the exception of trips to California to visit my daughter and her family, I declined most trips that were less than a few days in duration. Over time, I learned that if I were to travel, it required careful planning.
The main question to consider is the mode of travel: ground or air. I’ve learned that it is most important to chose the one that will get me to my destination with the least amount of stress and pain to my body, mind and spirit. In general, air travel is preferable because I can reach my destination faster, and I can get up and walk around much easier. Car trips lasting no more than 45-90 minutes are also doable, while I must avoid longer ones.
I’ve learned that the longer and more rigorous the travel schedule and mode, the longer the time that my body needs to recover from the effects of the trip. Although it does not eliminate my need to recover, air travel has less of a negative impact on me overall.
In recent weeks, I’ve also discovered that no matter how inexpensive Megabus, and others like it, may be, bus travel over long distances does not agree with fibromyalgia and chronic pain condition. My elderly Mom and I wanted to celebrate a pivotal birthday with one of my sisters. My Mom is at an age that she refuses to endure the added stress and demands that TSA, and other security concerns, places on air travel. So, in order to allow her to make the trip, I agreed to a bus trip from Austin, Texas to New Orleans, Louisiana.
Well, I am here to tell you, I can say that I’ve been there, done that, and I never will do it again. I would still consider it for trips of no longer than a few hours. Less than a day after we returned from New Orleans, my husband and I joined friends for a three day trip to Sante Fe, New Mexico.
The very fact that I agreed to either trip is out of the norm for me. As I mentioned earlier, with the exception of trips to my daughter in California, I rarely accept invitations to travel long distances. In fact, when my husband asked if I wanted to accept the invitation to Sante Fe, my initial inclination was to say, “No!” Nevertheless, I hesitated, and before I could stop myself, I agreed.
I surprised myself, and the look of astonishment on my husband’s face was priceless. My only regret came when the date of the trip had to be rescheduled to take place within days of returning from New Orleans. My concern was that there was little to no time for my body to recover between trips. Nevertheless, I was determined that, for once, I was not going to back out of the trip, no regrets allowed, and fibromyalgia and pain be damned.
As I write this post, both trips are behind me. During the trips, my pain did not magically disappear, nor did I expect it to. The lack of sufficient recovery time between trips, and insufficient recovery time post-travel was definitely a problem, though not an insurmountable one. Also, I think that it led me to catch a bad cold from my poor husband who spent the ENTIRE trip in bed with the flu.
Although all did not go as planned, I managed to hang out with our friends, Julie and Jeff, and to enjoy the beautiful adobe family home in which we stayed. It was within walking distance of the main cultural arts district, which I loved. I also enjoyed a couple of local restaurants, and to experience a little bit of the Sante Fe vibe. I look forward to going back.
In hindsight, both trips leave me feeling as though I am on a journey towards beginning my life anew. Post-trip, I must acknowledge that fibromyalgia definitely impacts what and how much I do. My pain level is inarguably much higher than it would be had I remained home. Yet, I was out experiencing and living my life instead of viewing it from the sidelines.
For once, fibromyalgia forced me to become a spectator in this thing called life. Life is to be experienced interactively, and it is my intention to do so. I am not saying that I will accept every invitation or opportunity that comes my way. However, I am going to engage in as much of life as I can taking my physical limitations into account. I have already agreed to a trip to Paris and Florence with my daughter early next year.
I like the following quote by Zachary Scott: “As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do.” Over the years, fibromyalgia and pain has caused me to regret having missed out on so many things, but no more. I’d rather create memories borne of the magic and beauty that this life offers.
What about you? Do you have an illness, condition or something else that keeps you from living your life to the fullest? If so, please join me in regaining your power, and all that you are. As they say, life is meant for living, so let’s do it.