Growler and I are off to the East coast of England for a week to get some rest and relaxation. We’ve rented a little cottage (with no stairs – yeah!) 6 miles from the Norfolk coastline so we can hang out together (like we love to do) and have a change of scene.
I’m so looking forward to the break from routine. It’s weird because you’d think being at home all day long, week in week out, isn’t something you need a holiday from. It’s a bit different when you’re actually living it though.
It’s also very important to me for Growler to have a break too. To be away from work, daily chores and the day in day out routine. He still needs to care for me and in fact being away from home can offer more challenges in this regard. But I know we can have a treat or two and go out to eat meals which gives a little break from the shopping, cooking, thinking and washing up for him!
We also get to be distracted by visiting some places and hopefully just spending time together watching the world go by and not thinking about anything very much.
A holiday, even a short break not too far from home, is not an easy option when you have CFS/ME or care for someone with it. It takes a lot of planning for us to make a holiday practical, as stress free as possible and to not make my condition worse. We plan weeks, even months in advance.
It starts with finding practical destinations and making sure travelling isn’t too long or too challenging – breaking it into chunks with stop overs if necessary. Also considering the best accomodation – self catering is harder work for Growler but means there’s no pressure for me to up by a certain time. Also we have the choice of going out to eat or being able to eat at “home” if I am too poorly. Is there comfortable places to spend indoors if I am ill or the weather isn’t good? Are there places we can drive for pleasure if I am too ill to do anymore than that? Is there a restaraunt or even take away close to the accomodation? Is the accomodation practical for moving around in? Are there a lot of stairs?
Weeks in advance I am planning my energy conservation for the holiday. We carefully schedule appointments, visits, even baths so that I have the best chance of making the journey with the least impact on my health. I conciously conserve some energy in the week or two running up to the break in the hope I can have a little in reserve to go out places while we are away. We ensure I am not coming back to any demands in the first few days to a week after our return in case the break and return journey have triggered a worsening of my condition.
Up to a week before we go I start planning what clothes and other things I would like to take on the trip, making a list over the course of several days and getting advice from Growler about appropriate clothing (going out, weather, etc).
Two weeks before with Growlers help we try and calculate if I have (or will have by then) enough medication and suppliments for the break – and order repeat prescriptions or extra suppliments if needed. I can’t just nip out and get things last minute so I need to plan everything and I need to allow plenty of time as I can only do so much organising in one day. Plus if I have a poorly spell anything like this is often impossible, so I have to allow for that.
When it comes to packing we are very experienced. Before I got ill we travelled a lot. Well, I should say that Growler is experienced, as I have forgotten (thanks to CFS/ME) how easy it is. I tend to get a bit stressed about packing nowadays. I think I worry about being away from home and familiar surroundings and finding I am missing something important. (We went to France this year and I miscounted my medication and didn’t take enough with me. We couldn’t get more without seeing a doctor even though in the UK you can buy it over the counter.)
So when it comes to actually packing Growler does all the work. This is where my list is invaluable – because I know I’ve spent days going over it so it’s as complete as it can be. I sit on the bed and read off my list directing Growler to where things might be, and he runs about scooping things up and settling them into the bag. He gathers up medication, suppliments, chargers for phones and things, art supplies, clothes, shoes, coats, scarves, snacks and all those essential comforts.
When we reach our destination he also unpacks the car and all the stuff from the bag – making sure I can get to things and re-assuring me. The last thing I am able to do after a long journey is figure stuff out. Gone are my days of running around a new room opening every drawer to see if any secrets or goodies where held therein!
This trip will be a car journey – in our own car. It makes things much easier. We’re comfortable and we can throw as much stuff in the back of the car as it can take. Including wheelchair, hot water bottle, a snuggley blanket and golf clubs this trip! I find a snuggley blanket can be useful for the car at this time of year as often my legs start to get quite cold sitting for a long while. I also have sunglasses in the car as brightness even on autumn/winter days can be very trying and sometimes triggers a migraine. So also having my eye mask (in case of emergency) is good. I use Sea Bands for travel sickness – the elastic bands you put around your wrists with a dimple that hits an accupressure point for nausea. They don’t look cool but neither does throwing up.
I find sometimes the noise of the car and the roads can be very trying – worse in wet weather as the sound of the whooshing wheels on the road. So I have earplugs with me as a last resort. Usually I can find some music to distract me.
I can’t help but get excited in the car at all the sights and views. When you spend so much of your life in the same four walls the world suddenly seems a huge, amazing, beautiful place when you are let out! When Growler took me out some months I ago to his parents, I even got excited about sitting in a traffic jam! It can mean I chatter on a lot, especially at the start of the journey or when I start to get tired to keep myself going. But talking a lot wears me out so sometimes Growelr has to remind me to shush for a bit. I always have a bottle of water with me as I get dehydrated and when I talk I get a dry mouth really quickly.
It’s very important for Growler, and for me – that I can just plop myself in the car without having run myself ragged first. So we try to arrange it so we don’t have to leave too early giving me time to wake normally and get ready without a rush.
That’s what’s happening this time around. I’m having a leisurely morning, saving my energy for the car journey later on. Aside from writing this epic post of course! 😉
Overall a break is brilliant. I have come back exhausted before now, but on other trips I’ve actually felt a lot better. I’m hoping this time, especially now we’re getting so good at planning, it will be the latter.
So for now friends I’ll sign off and rest up for the trip. Give the cat a fuss and tell him to be good for my brother this week 🙂 and I’ll catch up with you all in a week or so.