Fibromyalgia is a common condition characterized by long-term, body-wide pain and tender points in joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. Fibromyalgia has also been linked to fatigue, morning stiffness, sleep problems, headaches, numbness in hands and feet, depression, and anxiety.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tips for Traveling with Fibromyalgia

One of the reasons fibromyalgia is so difficult to diagnose is due to the wide variety of symptoms from one patient to the another, but nearly everyone who has it will probably tell you that they have a hard time when it comes to traveling. This could be anything from riding for long hours in a car to the uncomfortable beds in a hotel or guest room.

My husband and I love to travel and our favorite thing is cruising. One of the reasons we moved to Florida was because we could eliminate the long plane ride, not to mention the expense.

For me it's all about making the bed comfortable. If I don't have a good night's sleep then I won't get the most out of my vacation. Generally the beds are too hard for me and if I can get to sleep at all I usually wake up several times because I am aching all over or I can't sleep in much past 6a.m. because I just hurt too much to lie there.

My remedy was to purchase a twin size memory foam pad that I roll up and stick into the top part of my suitcase. It goes everywhere I go as well as at least one, if not both, of my bed pillows.
I have a special solid foam pillow for my head and a body pillow that takes the pressure off my spine when I lean against it.

Once you get used to remaking the bed every time you stay in a ship's cabin or hotel it's really not a big deal. I leave it on for the duration of my stay and the cleaning staff just works around it. Granted, I don't know what I would do if I had to use an airplane since they charge for every bag, but if mama ain't happy. . .

Another little tip I use is to carry around a little decorative pill holder with me all the time. I keep one in each of the everyday purses I use so as not to ever be without. It has my pain and allergy pills as well as some tylenol. If you find that you change your purse with different outfits on your travels it saves time to have this done in advance.

My sister-in-law has a severe case of fibromyalgia. She has neck pain that is so bad she can't turn her head to the left very well so I always sit to the right of her when we are together. She also has problems (unrelated to fibro) with her lower spine so she always carts around her pillows and back pads. We make quite a pair when the four of us travel together. Our husbands don't even bother to comment on all our gear.

Since I can't sit for long periods of time, my husband and I always check out the rest areas ahead of time for any car trips. Most of the cruise ports are in southern Florida so we have several hours in the car, but the stops along the way where I can walk around for 15 minutes or more is the only way I could survive it. When I start to really hurt I can barely wait to get up and out of the car and stopping at a gas station and just standing around for the few minutes it takes to gas up is not enough for me. Fortunately my husband is very good about stopping and not complaining and for that I am thankful.

As I mentioned before, fibromyalgia is a broad term for the various muscle aches and pains we experience so there is no list of do's and don't's. You may have to make some adjustments when you travel to get the most out of your experience.

If you have some travel tips you use, please leave a comment and let us know.


Michele Emrath said...

Wow! These are some great tips! Very informative for the newly diagnosed (me) and helpful for those still trying to make it work. I will link to this on my site!

Do Beautiful Things

Lori said...

travel tips? I always take my electric blanket. Always. I find I sleep so much better if my body doesn't get cold. And my own pillows. Yup, I have them propped all around me. A fan. The noise of a fan covers up all those different sounds that keep you awake. I travel with a warm afghan in the car to cover my lower body--my husband likes it cooler in the car while he drives, and I get really stiff if I get cold. And yes, getting out to walk every so often is important!