If only you could take a vacation from chronic pain, then there’d be no problem…
At the time of writing, I’m hosting a takeover for @Kroniske.influencers on Instagram and Facebook. It’s a community created by a couple of women with chronic illness and pain for people with chronic illness and pain. A place the share stories, experiences and advice. And every now and again, meet up in real life and forge friendships. Oh, and it’s amazing.
I wrote this post for the takeover, but in case it could be helpful to you or someone you know, I’ll share it here in English (without having to worry about Instagram’s 2200 character limit).
If that’s not relevant to you – maybe just enjoy some pictures from my vacation? And have a nice day!
So recently I returned home after a week in Prague with my family and boyfriend. I wanted to share a few tips on how I prepared and handled the fact that I have a chronic pain condition.
💑 Understanding travel companions
I’m close to my family, and everyone knows what’s going on with me, and they understand and respect my limitations. When planning the trip (which usually is mainly my father’s job) he frequently checked in with me about whether the plan was okay. For some experiences it’s best to book in advance, so we spread those out throughout the week. Otherwise we tried to keep the schedule flexible, so I could adjust depending on how my body is feeling on the day.
When you yourself have a tendency to push yourself too much, it’s important they don’t make it even harder to say no when you know it’s best for your body.
I don’t know if this is also used in English aside from referring to the animal. Google Translate told me “packasses” is the right term, but I don’t trust them.
My pain is in the neck region, and flare ups are easily triggered by lifting and carrying stuff – even a small bag. So my family and boyfriend took turns carrying all my luggage.
Flashback to when the first bus on our journey Czech Republic didn’t stop at the right place and we had to run to catch it at the next stop (with help from a red light). My boyfriend was carrying his own big backpack, another backpack for the bus and my trolley, while I was holding my pillow.
At that moment, he was not happy. Otherwise he’s a pretty good sport!
👜 Bonus BAG tip
If you like me struggle with bags (even purses/handbags) and wear women’s clothes (WHERE’S THE POCKETS??), a solution can be getting a belt bag! I felt self-conscious about getting a fanny pack at first, but it’s nice being able to carry your own phone and keys without extra pain – and I did find some pretty cute ones!
🏙 Stay centrally
Or close to public transport (if that’s how you’re getting around).
Our vacation plans mostly involved visiting various points of interest in Prague. Staying (fairly) close to the city centre meant I was able to go home rest multiple times a day. It also meant transport didn’t take as much time and energy when we did go exploring.
💕 Remember what’s important
To me, what’s most important is to spend time with the people I love – and it can be fun to just stay inside and play cards.
Saying no to some things can mean I get enough recovery time to be better able to enjoy it when I do go.
❄ Bring an ice pack
Cooling helps calm the worst pain of my pain, so I bring one to keep in the fridge (or freezer, if there is one).
Heat doesn’t do much for me, but if a heating pad is your saviour, that might be worth bringing too.
💊 Extra painkillers.
Thought it’s not sustainable to take (some kinds of) painkillers every day, it can be okay for a short while – I chose to do so.
🎧 Headphones + calm
Calm is an app with mindfulness meditations. I use it to disconnect, relax and recharge among other things.
I can’t claim I found the perfect recipe for a good vacation with chronic pain.
I suppose the perfect recipe would involve getting rid of chronic pain completely, and if I knew how to do that? Well, then I wouldn’t have chronic pain.
On the contrary, as the days progressed, I increasingly fell into old habits. From back when all I did was “push through” pain, never daring to stop because when I do, I’ll crash – hard.
That’s a shortsighted strategy, as it means overspending your body’s resources. At the pain clinic they call it using the golden card. It’s similar to a payday loan, as it leads to a massive bill with high interest rate. That’s not sustainable in the long run.
And I’m feeling that now. We got home wednesday, and my brain and body is still struggling.
This is not a good way to live your day to day life… but once in a while it’s absolutely worth the price.
How do you prepare for a pain-free vacation? Let me know in the comments!