As summer is approaching, I know that that a lot of people are probably planning for upcoming trips and vacations. Taking trips for most people is relaxing and fun. It’s a nice escape from reality and it helps blow off steam. Taking trips for people with MS, though, isn’t always the relaxing vacation you may have imagined.
Taking an unexpected solo trip
I recently had to take an unexpected trip by myself. It was for a funeral, so it wasn’t necessarily a fun trip. My husband had to stay behind to work and watch our son, so I traveled alone. The thought of traveling alone was kind of appealing at first. I knew that I would get some much needed 'me time' and be able to spend some good time with my family back home. My husband even encouraged it thinking it would be a nice break from everything we have going on. But what might have been a nice break for some wasn’t as relaxing as I hoped. A solo trip always starts out great. You get to drive alone and blast music as loud as you want, and you can stop as many times as you need without any complaints. Once you get there, you’re exhausted from driving but glad to be at your destination.
Having a wonderful time with family
I can’t lie, despite having to go for a funeral, I had a wonderful time with my family. The funeral was sad, but also a celebration of life. It was a nice break, too, until the driving and the constant activity caught up with me. At least when you arrive at your travel destination, you have the excitement of activity and plans to motivate you to keep going, but when you’re traveling back home, it's a different story. You wouldn’t think that sitting in a car for 6 hours would be that exhausting, but I can assure you, it is. Especially for someone with MS. The day after returning from my trip, I felt like I had been hit by a dump truck!
I love to travel, but traveling hates me
I call it my "travel hangover" because it’s so comparable to waking up after a long night of partying. The exhaustion washes over me in waves. And, I often feel so tired it makes me nauseous. My head pounds. Once you’ve experienced MS fatigue, you soon realize there’s nothing like it. There isn’t anything that is even close to comparable. The best thing I can think to compare it to is to imagine that your bones are not bones, but actually, weights weighing your body down. It makes even the simplest of movements feel complicated. What might have been a simple trip for some, was not easy on me. I always say I love to travel, but traveling hates me. Most of the time, I end up having to recover for at least a week afterward. It's like anything else with MS - once you overdo it, it takes time to get back to feeling well.
Traveling is worth it
While the recovery from traveling is difficult every time, at this time in my life, I am grateful to say that traveling is still very much worth it. I will take those memories made any day, even if it means recovering for a week afterward. I am determined to continue doing things I love while I still can. I don’t ever want to look back and allow feeling bad to hold me back. That’s not to say that it never will. I know my limits and when I need to stop, but I also know the importance of continuing to have fun with chronic illness. I can’t allow it to steal the things that bring me joy just yet. My biggest piece of advice for traveling is to try and rest as much as possible beforehand and plan ahead. But, if like in my case, that isn’t possible, give yourself grace when you return from your trip. Rest all that you can afterward, and accept help when needed!
Do you suffer from the travel hangover, too? What do you do to help your return from traveling easier?
Does listening to music help lower the severity of your stress or MS symptoms?