Saturday, July 4, 2015

trip to ocean city.

A little over a month ago, my boyfriend and I decided to take a vacation to Ocean City, Maryland.  We had both been there before and enjoyed it, and it's a short drive from where we live in New York, so the trip isn't too hard on my body.  Our one dog, Zoe, spent the week at a local doggy daycare/boarding facility, but our other dog, Hendrix, isn't always very good with other dogs and had never been to the beach before, so we decided to bring him with us.

Despite cooler weather and a few days with bad bladder flares, we had a pretty nice time.  It's always more difficult traveling now that I am sick, but I just make sure to plan ahead to ensure a seamless trip.  There are a few tips I have learned along the way that make traveling and vacationing a lot easier on me and the whole crew and make for a much happier, less "flared up" trip, and I thought I would share those with you!

the beginning of our adventure.

Even though I hate waking up early, I always make sure to set it early on traveling days.  This gives me plenty of time to get the car all packed and get on my way without having to rush.  Rushing leads to stress, which inevitably leads to some part of my body freaking out!  That is definitely not a good way to start out a vacation.  I try to set everything out the night before and double-check my packing list so that the morning of, I just have to pack the car, get the dog settled, and get gas on my way out of town.  Then it's just us and our tunes on the open road!

Like many roadtrippers, I used to rely on drive-thru windows for my food and drinks on the road without a second thought.  Now that I'm sick, doing that is a straight path to a cranky bladder and foggy head!  Instead of hoping for a gas station that carries somewhat healthy food, I bypass that completely and pack my own.  We have a small, hard sided zip-top cooler that is just big enough for about four drinks and some snacks to fit in.  Depending on how far the journey is, I will also bring along an insulated lunch bag with extra snacks.  This trip, I filled the cooler with waters, apple juice, string cheese, Gala apples, granola bars that aren't irritating for me to eat, a banana, and a few Graze snacks.  With the exception of having to buy a few extra water bottles along the way and some chicken nuggets for Hendrix, these snacks lasted me the trip down and I arrived without a bloated, horrible feeling stomach.

This was an easy thing to adhere to this trip because I had my little man with me, but even if I hadn't, I try to make this a rule on every trip.  Stopping every two hours or so is a giant pain in the butt, I know -- I used to take fourteen hour trips to Michigan and only stop twice! -- but they really help in the long run.  Especially for those of us with fibromyalgia, getting out to stretch our joints and muscles prevents them from getting knotted up and achey from being cramped up in the car.  Not to mention the fact that with all the water I drink to stay hydrated, two hours is the absolute maximum I can go before I will pee my pants (thanks, IC!), it's good for your eyeballs to get a change of scenery and not be focused on the same line after line for hours on end.

We use heat or lidocaine patches on our body at night when we are in pain from something... Why not use them beforehand to try and stop the pain from occuring?  (I know, I can see the lightbulb going off!)  I put a heat patch on the spot that always needs it the most, my lower back, and lidocaine patches on the spots that trouble me and get cramped up the most, my left hip and right knee.  I also cut a lidocaine patch in half and put them side by side on my pelvic area to cover my bladder.  By putting them on before I am even in pain, I stop it before it gets out of control and it makes for a much, much more comfortable ride.  I also like to keep some pillows handy to use behind my back, or under my driving knee, because I get a knot from having to flex it using the pedals so much.  I also keep ibuprofen handy, my migraine medicine, and my mouthpiece.

For the actual vacation portion, I always check beforehand that the hotel room we are staying in has a bathtub so that I can do my nightly soak.  I bring my bag of Epsom salts to use, which really help.  I also use all of the same things I utilized on the trip down, plus a heating pad, herbal tea, and pain relieving cream.

I don't know about you but while I'm on vacation, sometimes I can forget that I'm sick because I just want to see everything!  I make lists and plan out all of the things I want to see, and then by the second day, I crash majorly.  Duh.  This is where listening to your body is very important.  Only you know how much your body can take before it starts to shut down.  My maximum is about 6 hours, sometimes less if it's very hot or involves a lot of walking.  I know when I need to take a break to keep going, or if I just need to be done for the day.  I know when I wake up that morning if I need to go back to sleep for a few hours, or if I am set to get up and do whatever we have planned.  Nobody else can tell those things, so you need to speak up and let those around you know.

Being flexible is very important in this case -- there was one day we had planned to go kayaking but when I got up, I just felt completely wiped out, so I went back to bed for a few hours.  When I got up, it was raining.  So, we went shopping and came back with take-out to watch movies the rest of the night and it was great.  Having flexibility is essential when traveling as a sick person because it can be the difference between making the best out of your circumstances and having a wonderful trip and letting things get the best of you and moping around the whole time.

Often when out doing something on vacation, you're out for the day.  It's not uncommon to start out at the beach, and then go straight to the boardwalk, then to dinner, then to ice cream, then back to the boardwalk -- typically when you leave the hotel in the morning, you leave for the day.  For most people that's okay, but us chronically ill people just always have to be different, don't we?!  It can be a struggle when we have so many meds or other things to bring with us, which is why thinking ahead is key.

Luckily, a large beach tote looks stylish while you're catching rays or walking the boardwalk, so I grab one of those because they are big enough to fit anything I might possibly need in!  In goes my regular meds if I'm going to be out at the time I normally take them, plus any ones I might need (ie. ibuprofen, migraine, etc).  I also include medicine cabinet items that are specific to me and not easily picked up at a local store, or that a local store might not carry.  These include contacts, Prelief (lots of stores don't carry it, unfortunately!), feminine wipes, heat pads, lidocaine patches, dog antibiotic spray for cuts and burns, etc.  Plus the everyday stuff goes in, like my wallet (including my full medication list with allergies), chapstick, mini hairbrush, etc.

Since the status of my bladder can change at a moments notice, if I know I'm going to be out the whole day, one thing I do like to pack in my giant bag is an extra outfit.  I make sure it is something non-constricting on my bladder and that will cover any bloating (usually it's of the six months pregnant variety).  This typically means a pair of leggings and a flowy tank top or t shirt.  They are small and easy to roll up inside your bag, you can quickly change into them in a bathroom stall, and nothing feels better than changing from a tight pair of jeans to a loose pair of leggings when your bladder hurts!

Other things to help you think ahead include reading the menu online of the restaurant you're going to.  This helps you to really dig deep into the items and find something that you can eat that won't bother you without having to take a ridiculously long time at the restaurant and hold up your spouse or the other people you're with.

Most importantly, remember to rest and relax -- this is vacation after all!  We had a few bumpy patches with bladder freak-outs, and one night I had a terribly painful bladder flare, but the rest of the time was great.  We walked on the beach a lot which is so peaceful and restful.  We found a secret cove on Assateague Island that we got to spend time in with our pup, and we got to see the horses.  Overall, it was a great trip because I remembered some key tips to make things run more smoothly!  What tips do you use when you are traveling?  Are there some I forgot?  I would love to hear what you think of mine as well!  Don't forget to leave your comment down below!

I also took a ton of pictures while I was gone, so here are some from our trip.  Enjoy :)

Taking it all in at the beach :)

There's nothing more relaxing than a sunny day walking along the beach!

Such a cool shell I found - this crab was lodged so tightly in it, it was like he had been trying to use it as a home!

Some of the days were so foggy that you couldn't see more than 100 feet behind you and it was really spooky..

My best find the whole trip since I have never found a starfish in all my beach trips!

When we first rescued Hendrix, he had a terrible time being in the water.  He was really afraid of it and we had to convince him to even get his paws wet! This will be the third year we have had him and watching him walk right into the water up past his belly without any prodding from us brought tears to my eyes to see how much progress my little guy has made.  He has been such a blessing in my life!

All over were tons and tons of mussel beds!  We didn't dig for any but it was so cool seeing them.

I love going to see the ponies at Assateague Island.  I think it's great that they are still allowed to roam free while we humans can take advantage of the beautiful nature preserve they live on.  Hendrix did very well with them - he was startled at first but we taught him not to bark at them and then he just sat watching.

There's something so majestic about them!

Barely even made it off of the Beltway before he was snoozing away!

Do you have any travel tips that you swear by using?  I would love to hear them!  Feel free to leave any comments below! :)  

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