Going on Vacation with Rheumatoid Arthritis
On July 18, I was off for a four day trip with my mom and my five siblings. This is the first trip we have all taken together since we were kids. Our immediate families are not joining us. It is just the seven of us. We are meeting up in the Boston area to celebrate my older sister’s 50th birthday. I am excited, yet experiencing a little anxiety.
First of all, this is the first time I will be taking a trip without my husband. The only other trip I have taken without him was to Seattle. I was 27 years old and I flew without him because he was in Seattle working for two weeks. I flew there to meet up with him. I like traveling with him. I feel safe. He generally takes care of things and I like that. This trip will be completely up to me. Second, this is my first trip ever away from my kids. I know by the time kids are 13 and 15 many couples have had already had multiple trips away from their kids. Not us. It has never been our style. The kids do lots of one night sleepovers at friend’s houses, but that is it. I know they will be okay, but it is still a little weird leaving them for four days.
This is also my first trip alone with rheumatoid arthritis. I bought a new carry-on suitcase that arrived yesterday. As my son opened the box and took out the suitcase, I felt anxiety enter my body and immediately say, “How are you going to lift that into the cargo area?” After the kids had checked out the new suitcase and left the room, I decided to face my anxiety. I lifted the suitcase up high pretending I was putting it in the cargo area. “Okay, if it is empty, I won’t have a problem,” I told myself which was not very reassuring. By the time my husband got home, my anxiety level was a little higher. I said, “What if I can’t lift my suitcase up myself?” My husband and daughter immediately said, “You ask for help.” Oh, yeah, help. I can ask for help.
I am not really sure why I am even scared about lifting up my suitcase. My rheumatoid arthritis is in a really good place right now and if it was a heavy box I needed moved in our laundry room or garage, I wouldn’t even think twice about moving it myself. I think my problem is that I still have “flare minded mentality” even after feeling good for a year. I worry that I “might” have a flare while I am gone and the suitcase will be a symbol to everyone that I have rheumatoid arthritis or worse yet, they won’t figure out I have rheumatoid arthritis and will just think I am not strong, which I am. I don’t like having to explain my rheumatoid arthritis to strangers but I also don’t like to be considered wimpy.
The last day of my trip is on a Thursday. Thursdays are Enbrel day. I keep having this back and forth discussion in my head about taking Enbrel with me. By taking it with me I am secure that if anything happens where my trip is delayed, I have it with me. However, I don’t want to be responsible for keeping my Enbrel cold the entire time I am gone, especially when I can easily take it that evening when I get home. Problem solved, right? Right. So, why does my brain even continue to think about it?
My last concern has to do with food. I don’t eat out at restaurants often because I eat a pretty clean, non processed food diet that eliminates things like grains, sugar, dairy and legumes. Eating this way provides me with an overall good feeling of health. I worry that four days of eating out will spur a flare up which I definitely don’t want during a vacation. Do I take a supply of prednisone with me just in case or hope for the best? Most likely I will hope for the best because one of my least favorite things about rheumatoid arthritis is getting back on prednisone. Besides that, most likely I will be completely fine.
Although my anxiety level seems high about this trip, I am actually really excited. My siblings and mom all live in different states than me and I don’t get near enough time with them. I am excited to be going someplace I have never been before and in my heart, I know all will work out fine. I think a lot of it for me is that I depend on my immediate family a lot. They not only help me when I ask, but they sense when I need help without asking. This trip is completely up to me. My rheumatoid arthritis is in a good place right now and I just need to let “flare minded mentality” take a rest so that I can enjoy this vacation to its fullest. I think the problem is that once you have experienced flares for many years, you know the havoc it can play in your plans. You know that you have no choice in when and how intense the flare will be. It seems that letting go of that way of thinking takes a while.