Welcome to the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge brought together by WEGO Health – a social network for all health activists. Again, I am participating in the annual Writer’s Month Challenge in which I will be writing about my health activism and health condition based upon given prompts.
Thursday April 9th: Challenger
Share with readers about a time you had to overcome a daunting challenge. What words of encouragement would you share with others who find themselves facing similar difficulties?
The last daunting challenge that I had to face, and one of the biggest challenges that I’ve faced for a long time, was our holiday in May of last year.
The holiday was a fifteen-night cruise around the Mediterranean Sea, visiting ports including Cadiz, Barcelona, Livorno (Florence) and Civitavecchia (Rome).
Not only was the first time that I was to go on a cruise, but it was also the first holiday I would have been on, since the deterioration of my symptoms such as the dizziness and weakness in my legs.
I mentioned in a recent post, about the anxiety provoked by going to new places or experiencing anything new can be for someone living with a chronic illness. Not only do visiting or experiencing anything new raises a lot of ‘what if’ questions (What will I be like? What if I become ill? for example) but as chronic health conditions often flare, we therefore do not know how our conditions are going to be around the time we are away.
Furthermore, as someone living with a chronic illness, familiarity is comforting. Being surrounded by everything that is familiar is comforting; they hold special memories, and know familiar places like the back of our hands and if we become ill we know exit strategies or places easily accessible to recuperate until we feel better.
Being out of our comfort zones, therefore is uncomfortable and scary. The fear of the unknown is overwhelming. And this is exactly how I felt for days leading up to the cruise, especially as I was also experiencing a bad time with my symptoms at the time. There were times, I admit that I really didn’t want to go, but looking back, I was so glad that I did. Here are some words of advice and encouragement that I would give for anyone in the same position:
- Talk through your fears and worries with somebody else, preferably someone going with you on the holiday (or whatever situation you are in). Our minds will very often catastrophise things, and these thoughts often become out of control when we bottle them up. So, talk through the worries and anxieties with another person and then talk through coping strategies and action plans for various possible scenarios
- Make an appointment with your GP and ask for some extra medication to see you through the holiday. I was so glad that I did, as because I was experiencing a sudden deterioration in symptoms, the doctor prescribed me some extra medication for the worsening pain which really helped during the cruise and helped with sleep
- Do not focus on what you cannot do, but enjoy and make the most of what you can and what you enjoy! On the cruise, as I was feeling so bad for the majority of the time, I found that I was unable to do things that I was looking forward to such as getting off the ship and visiting places like Rome and Florence. At the time, however, I spent so much time being upset and frustrated at not being able to do it, that I forgot to enjoy the little things that I was able to do, such as the relaxation and pampering in the solarium and using the wonderful facilities such as the jacuzzi, which really helped to ease some of the pain
- Relax and enjoy! Holidays are all about resting and relaxing (in my opinion), and everyone has different ideas on what this entails. If this means, lying on sun loungers all day, or reading by the pool then do it! Don’t compare your holiday experience with somebody else. Make the most of what you are able to do.
- Feel the fear and do it anyway! If there is anything that I learnt during the daunting challenge last year, it was definitely to worry less and enjoy it more. Going on holiday with a chronic illness is challenging, however, it is also very worth it. It allows not only a break from the ‘spoonie’ routine of doctor and hospital appointments but also allows a welcome respite from the confines of the four walls of our homes where we spend a lot of our time. So, just go and make wonderful and lasting memories to cherish for many years to come!