|Tropical vacation - Friend or Foe?|
It is much worse to be feeling awful in a gorgeous tropical paradise where everyone else is deliriously happy than to be stuck on your own couch in your own home where you can be sick in peace. You just feel out of place and out of synch with your surroundings and everyone around you.
I KNOW that all of you will understand, but I still feel horribly guilty even mentioning - even here on my chronic illness blog - that I did not love this generous vacation.
Worst of all, I am still not sure WHY I felt bad the whole week. Granted, we left on December 27 at 5 am, barely 24 hours after Christmas, and I was already exhausted and overwhelmed from the holidays themselves. And, of course, the 12-hour travel day through cars, airports, planes, and shuttle buses totally wiped me out. Still, even with all that, I expected to feel better after a few days...and I didn't.
One of the upsetting things about this trip was that my mother treated us all to the exact same vacation 5 years ago. I was in worse shape back then, not yet on beta blockers so more prone to post-exertional crashes and with less physical stamina. Yet, I remembered feeling fairly well and being relaxed and enjoying myself once I recovered from the travel day. In fact, as soon as we got home this weekend, I went through my closet and found my 2010 journal, where I track how I feel, thinking I must be remembering it wrong. No, I really did feel pretty good and enjoyed that trip.
So, what was wrong this time? Well, that's the maddening thing, isn't it? This illness defies logic much of the time. I proposed one explanation after another to my ever-patient husband after we returned home: "Maybe it was because of the timing, just after the busy holiday season" (the last trip was Thanksgiving week), "Maybe it was more crowded this time because of the time of year," "Maybe the yeast overgrowth was still flared up, even though I thought I had it under control," and on and on, until he finally said, "Stop trying to figure it out! After 13 years, don't you know you just can't figure these things out!" Sigh...yes, I know that, but I hate it, so I never stop trying!
It was extra crowded this time and very noisy - our room was on the edge of the resort, right along the fence that separated our resort from the one next door - a Couples resort that had live music playing just over that fenceline every night until 10:30 pm! (and 12:30 am on New Year's Eve) One night, they had drummers featured, and it was so loud and so absurd that my husband and I just had to laugh. Another night, our 21-year old son came back to the room just as the band next door was playing Lionel Ritchie at 10:30 pm and he joined in with the chorus as he opened the door to our room: "All night long..." Sometimes, you just have to laugh.
|My husband & I at dinner|
|Kayaking with my husband|
Even though I wasn't feeling well, I did go on a short kayaking ride with my husband and on a snorkeling trip with the whole family the last day. Fun at the time, but again, I probably shouldn't have. Just walking from our room, on the far side of the resort, to meals or to the beach was probably too much exertion for how I was feeling.
I became very depressed on my second day there and realized it was that familiar biochemical depression that sometimes accompanies a crash. I switched from my dark, foreboding novel to a light, funny one, rested and read a lot, and waited for it to pass, reminding myself of my very own recent advice in my article, Riding the Chronic Illness Rollercoaster. Often, I was in a bad mood (that seems like such an inadequate unfair term when you feel so sick) by those late dinners, and I knew from my sister's eyerolls and snarky comments that she thought I was being negative. Healthy people just can't understand what it's like - like being on a resort vacation & trying to have fun when you have the flu. All the positive attitude in the world can't fix it, and sometimes it is just impossible to smile and pretend everything is OK.
My mother was incredibly supportive and kind to me the entire week. She was empathetic and caring, frequently checking to see how I was doing, encouraging me to take care of myself when I needed to, and just wanting me to relax and enjoy myself. So, I felt horribly guilty that I wasn't enjoying it more and that it wasn't relaxing for me.
The trip ended with a horrible crash. The combination of a late-day snorkeling trip (I usually only do active stuff in the morning because my heart rate is higher in the afternoons) and yet another formal, 2-hour, late-night dinner completely did me in. By the time I excused myself at 9pm (I never should have stayed so long, but the main dishes didn't come out until just before then), I was shaking and barely able to walk. I burst into tears as soon as I left the restaurant and was sobbing so hard as I shuffled back to our room, barely able to walk, that an alarmed employee stopped me to see if she could help me.
|An old friend was also in Jamaica!|
But I was incredibly relieved to finally get back home. I managed it and am grateful to my mother for being so generous and giving us all that time together. But it is so lovely to lie on my couch in the evenings!
Have you experienced these kinds of "vacations" that are more stressful than relaxing?
|The whole family on a snorkeling trip - me in stripes|