For most people the prospect of travelling fills them with excitement. New adventures in a different city or culture is one of life’s great pleasures. The experiences stay with us forever.
There are things that we want to do when travelling that we don’t do when we’re at home. We walk vast distances just to experience the vibrancy, architecture, street culture and personality of a city. Each day we push ourselves to make sure that we’re drawing everything we can from the experience.
But if you suffer from fibromyalgia or chronic pain, many of those experiences are simply too much to cope with no matter how much you would like to do it. It’s not that you don’t want to have those experiences it’s just that the physical demands are too great.
If you have fibromyalgia you may try to do things because you think you should or to make somebody else happy. You might push ahead and reach a destination that you’ve dreamed of visiting and then when you arrive you can’t get yourself out of bed. The queues at airports, the long flight or a long drive might be tiring to others but for sufferers of fibromyalgia they are exhausting. It’s similar to chronic fatigue syndrome; sometimes activities that seem normal to others are gruelling for sufferers of fibromyalgia.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t travel. Quite the opposite in fact. Travelling with fibromyalgia is more a case of getting a perspective of what you can and can’t handle, doing as much as you can to get yourself in the best shape possible given your circumstances and having a great time. Your fibromyalgia specialist isn’t a travel agent but he or she can certainly help you to plan around your limitations.
Winter travel isn’t a great idea unless it’s to a warm destination. Then again, excessive heat isn’t ideal either so trekking in the tropics is probably out. Fibromyalgia is exacerbated by cold or damp weather. It’s a great idea to take holidays that are not going to exhaust you – places where you can rest and not engage excessively in activities that are going to drain all of your energy.
That still leaves a multitude of great travel and holiday options that you can thrive in. If you are travelling with a partner or friends it’s not essential that you do everything together. If they are non sufferers then they can be as active as they like and you can rest when they’re are off doing something different.
The point is that just because you have fibromyalgia doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy life. Knowing how to ease fibromyalgia pain is a key to enjoyment. Be conscious and honest about how you feel. If you need to rest for a period or a day then do so. Get massages, gentle ones that are soothing and use moist, warm cloths on painful areas.
Take things slowly and get plenty of sleep. Avoid stress which might mean allowing others to take the lead. All of those things should be doable, especially when you are on holiday.
Dr Peter Dobie is a GP with a particular interest in CFS and fibromyalgia. Dr Peter Dobie takes a holistic approach to treating chronic illness, as well as providing preventive medical care. Dr Dobie has clinics in Bondi and Pymble and he treats a variety of complex and chronic illnesses.