Ten things to make vacations possible with Chronic illness

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Ten things to make vacations possible with Chronic illness

I can’t go on vacation. I could never keep up. I can’t slow my family down. It would take weeks to recover.

I hear this all the time when I tell other chronically sick people I went on vacation. I am here to tell you it is possible. It takes planning. It takes determination but it is possible. The last three years we have been doing a camping trip to Disney, here is what I have learned.

  1. Plan it out

 I am not talking about the little things. I am talking about generalizations here. We leave on one day, set up camp. We go to the park the next day. We hang around camp/pool the next day. The last day we pack up and go home. I am not slowing anyone down this way. We all need time to recover and relax after the park. This also includes increasing exercise. I started this about three weeks before we left. THREE. WEEKS. Planning helped me plan in rest/recovery time. I planned out what I was bringing with me to help my body hold up. I planned out where the jacuzzi’s were to help my muscles recover a bit. I started cutting back on soda and increasing water three weeks prior to leaving as well. Taking your body on vacation it needs to be well hydrated before you even start.

2.Eat anti-inflamatory foods before leaving

Before we left I made sure to stock up on anti-inflamatory foods. Cucumbers, celery, pineapple, and ginger. I cut back on pasta and white rice. I made sure I was eating foods high in Omega three’s.This is not far from what I normally eat but, I tried to be extra vigilant about these things. I severely limited my sugar intake as well. Sugar causes inflamation on so many levels.

3.Sleep

I would say the three days prior to leaving I was super protective of sleep time. I tried to fall asleep close to the same time every night. I get that sleep is hard. Good sleep is even harder. This is where I pulled out all my tricks. Melatonin, cherry juice and magnesium.

4.Supplements

So if you follow me pretty regular you probably know what I am going to say here. Ultracur. Yes, I took it on my vacation. I did not take aspirin, aleve, or any other nsaid. It was not however the only supplement I took. I was also taking a flaxseed oil supplement three times a day. I took the ultracur four times a day. I took L-lysine two times a day. I use a Stomach enzyme and probiotic mix that I took twice a day. I also took a ginger supplement twice a day. It has taken me at least three years to figure out which supplements give me the most help. I can’t afford to take them all the time, plus I already take enough pills. I also highly believe that you should space these out.They should not be something you take daily all the time. I have found it to be more effective that way. I know others have not. This is where you have to really know your body and really take the time to find out what works for you. Briefly I will explain why I take each of theses. Ultracur which is Curcumin the helpful property in Turmeric is basically a coverall. There is hardly an area it doesn’t help. It is anti-inflamatory, anti-microbial and anti-fungal,works for the skin, the brain and the digestive tract.  I use the ginger mostly for help with muscle pain although it is good for many other issues as well. Flaxseed for joint lube. L-lysine is for membrane health. Originally I started taking it for coldsores but found my muscles really really like it when I take that. I kind of think the stomach enzymes and probiotics are self explanatory. They make my stomach and gut muscles happy. I am all about making my muscles and joints as happy as possible. I have tried glucosamin condroitin and really could not decern a noticable difference. I know some swear by it.

5. Spread it out

This somewhat goes in with planning, but not exclusively. For me I don’t mind not getting to all of the park, for others that might be an issue. There are two ways around this, plan more than one trip, or more than one park day. FOr me that would require extending our stay and I know my body and it is not up to that. I am pretty determined to camp because I love it so much. I used to hike and camp. That is really hard and I know I can’t do that. I can’t carry a sixty pound backpack and hike. This is my compromise with myself, that also allows me to give my daughter the experience of camping. Perhaps it is not important to you and you are good with a hotel. DO what your body can handle.

6.Eat to keep up

Protein protein protein. We all know that you need protein for your muscles after you exercises. Sometimes it is easy to not think of walking around a park as actual exercise. It is essentially what you are doing though. Eat high protein and low sugar while at the park as much as possible. However, that being said, you are on vacation so indulgences are allowed. Disney made it pretty easy to eat a balanced meal at every meal. Breakfast even had veggies available. This is where paying attention to serving size mattered most to me. Protein was the main part of my plate with room for fruit and veggies and a small space for carbs and sweets.  Don’t forget to keep hydrating. Drink a lot of water, when you think you have drank enough ,drink a bit more. By eleven am I had already drank sixty ounces of water. It sounds like a lot. Sure it made me go to the bathroom a lot. A lot. Factor in it is also summer in Florida. Sweat was dripping off us when it wasn’t raining. This is where I would also say powerade or gatorade are acceptable choices of hydration. I personally can’t stand coconut water but it is also an excellent hydrator. Don’t swear off all sugar and caffiene. They can be helpful tools to help you last all day. I tried to make sure the water I drank was twice as much as any amount of caffiene/sugar I had at each meal. Use the sugar/caffiene high to your advantage.

7.Rest frequently

Sit where and when you can. Sometimes it hurts worse to even try to sit down. I know I get that way too. However, your body needs it. Try to remember to stretch when you sit. I will be honest here and say I didn’t always remember that. There where times that sitting felt a lot like what the tin man most look like trying to sit. Keeping an eye out for oppurtunities for me to sit down really helped though. Even though I was tired, I made sure we got jacuzzi time in. There was one day I used it twice for the full fifteen minutes each time.

8.Allow indulgences

Normally I try to keep desserts and treats to a minimum. I know it doesn’t always seem like that and I am not always good at it. Remember though, this is vacation. Aside from knowingly consuming corn(an allergen for me) I let myself have desserts and other things, High carbs, I normally wouldn’t.  I had bread with breakfast and lunch and dinner most of the time. We had sweets and I sure did drink a lot of juice.

9.Keep hydrating

The last two years the week after hit me pretty hard. It took me a while to realize I had slacked off on hydrating. I wasn’t outside sweating any more. It is easy to forget to hydrate. Just like it is going to take more out of us to do the vacation, it takes a lot to recover. Hydrating is going to make that easier. Your muscles will thank you.

10. Allow for rest afterwards

This year I did not allow for full days of rest. I have found that to actually bring on a flare worse. Instead I planned short small activites with lots of rest afterwards. The first full day back I did my cleaning job and then we rested. A friend and I took my daughter to the beach. Which was perfect because I could rest knowing my friend had an eye on the kid. The salt water also really does help. If you are not near a beach plan on epsom salt baths. I still used those on top of the beach. Be gentle with yourself. I know this is a hard one for me too. I was starting to get discouraged I wasn’t back to normal by friday which was a week after we left. Pushing at it though is not going to help. I don’t really feel like I am fully recovered even now. I don’t expect to start that rise back to my “normal” level of everything until Tuesday night or even possibly Wednesday.

Remember this is after three years of almost the same exact trip to learn this for my body. After the first year I put in the extra day to relax before coming home because I paid for not having it the first year.  The only other thing that changed was which park we went to.

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