Monday, 1 May 2017

Travelling (and Attending a Wedding) with Multiple Chronic Illnesses

This May day bank holiday weekend has been spent attending a wedding with my partner. The weekend has been filled with a vast array of activities, emotions and chronic illness symptoms.

I have to admit, I was incredibly nervous about being away from my home for several nights incase I experienced a really bad flare. In the past eleven months of my chronic illness rupture, the only nights away from home have been with family or very close friends. I began fearing if I would even make it to the venue itself, due to a rather long journey to get there - most of which consists of unavoidable public transport. I also feared the three days of socialising as chronic illness is unreliable and unpredictable in it's manner. I was worried my health would ruin the whole experience. I am aware I have lost a lot of weight the past eleven months, am on a huge collection of medications, and just generally my body is struggling with the battle of multiple chronic conditions and as such, I am easily fatigued. Obviously, weddings are events that are filled with food, drink, socialising and dancing. I feared I would not be able to keep up.
 The wedding venue 

Yet despite all of this, I decided to go. In the journey to the train station alone (which was due to take a mere twenty minutes -part walk to the flower shop in order to collect our corsages and then a taxi) I had already had to stop to be sick four times, which therefore delayed our journey and schedule for the day. I was filled with embarrassment, exhaustion, and mostly frustration.. yet I persevered.

The wedding itself was held in an old manor, which is now a beautiful countryside hotel. My partner and I made the decision last minute to cancel our booking at the local B&B and to stay at the hotel of the wedding venue. Although we could have stayed at the B&B a short walk down the road for less, this was not the occasion to hold back with our money. This made the whole process so much smoother, and relaxing. More so, as having arrived already exhausted, flustered, nauseous and all in all slightly fed up! I was comforted at the thought this would be my home for the next three days, and should there be a problem, throughout the weekend, I was only a couple of floors upstairs to the serenity of my suite.

The rest of the day I spent at the spa, and treated myself to a massage in the hope this would relieve some of my terrible aches and joint pains I'm increasingly getting with EDS. (I must say, on reflection, I asked the masseuse to increase the pressure, which a couple of hours, and indeed days later I still regret!) Nonetheless, we finished the day with a fine meal at the local pub.

Sunday was the day of the wedding, which, while it didn't go without hiccups on my chronic illness part... nausea, sickness, joint pain, migraines, and POTS symptoms all greeted me on the day, I regularly dipped in and out the event while sneakily going back up to my room to take a lie down. I'll even let you into a secret, since getting to grips with my colonic inertia, and expecting the cycle of symptoms every two/three weeks I always make sure I have a back-up outfit. More importantly, two back-up dresses were required for the wedding and rightly so. Before any alcohol had even been consumed, I had been sick over my first dress. I jumped into the bath, got changed, brushed my teeth and hair, redid my makeup and proceeded to the event. It was a fabulous day, and I wasn't going to let myself be held back in confidence due to my illness.

That being said, Monday, was a slightly different affair... I awoke to the most terrifying hangover! Dancing the night away and drinking an array of champagne, Jack Daniel's, and shots of jager seemed like such a good idea at the time, but bad idea now that I have to deal with the consequences! I truly had no idea how I would get myself up, packed and presentable in time to check out. Thank god, by some utter miracle, I somehow achieved it!i

I am well aware that since suffering with my array of chronic conditions, I have indeed become much more a lightweight-I go out less, drink less often and the cherry on top- my medications are not advised to be mixed with alcohol- and certainly not in large quantities! Truthfully, I had anticipated that I would be having a few drinks throughout the day, and therefore held back from taking some full dosages of medications- all within reason. I continued with my six anti sickness, but restricted my dosage on my laxatives and certain painkillers. I remained hopeful that everything would be ok because of this- which it was. In fact, I somehow managed to be the last one on the dance floor.

Having just arrived back home now, I am fine, but absolutely exhausted. Reminiscing on photos and memories with my partner since getting back home and settled I realise how proud I am of myself. I'm amazed - and so, so proud of myself for preserving through the pain. I look well, I look happy. It's hard to tell how much I had been through at that point, and I quite like that.

The truth of the matter is, travelling with a chronic illness is hard. Chronic illness influences so many factors of travelling and being away from home -you have to keep track of your medications, map out nearby hospitals in case of an emergency, come up with a game plan in case you get sick. I have to make sure those closest to me are understanding of my health.

With all that being said, I always try not to allow my illness to define me. I don't want to let my fear to determine my actions. I have tried very hard to continue chasing my dreams, and I am so happy with how much I have accomplished, it's easy to forget when you are not experiencing a flare  just how crap they really are. You feel restricted, ashamed, and humiliated. Nonetheless, I preserved.

You can never be "too" prepared for travelling with a chronic illness, and while I made sure I had a sick bowl, towels, backup medication and clothing, a hot water bottle, and special food packed in case of my dietary restrictions were not able to be adhered to. Despite this, I wish to send a message to all my readers - no matter whether you have an illness or not - whilst it is always better to be over prepared than underprepared, life will just inevitably get in the way and you can't always be ready for everything, and sometimes, while these moments can surprise you and teach you a lesson, they can also be some of the best moments in life if you work around them.

"The Hopeful Chronic"

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