Vacationing While Recovering
Honest question: how does anyone vacation?
So this post is waaaay waaaay off of something I could have ever dreamed about, in my wildest dreams when I was at my bottom. My idea of a vacation was being able to leave my bed, or the bathroom. (My husband carried me to the bathroom, I didn't even make it there alone for a long time.)
Being bedbound for months, I had extremely limited capacity to do literally anything at all.
And yet, something in my core made me pull and roll my way across my bed into the sunlight every single day and stay there as long as a I could.
That was my vacation, every single day. I'd lay in the sun and doze off, dreaming of better days ahead. Days when I knew what my mystery ailments all were and what they meant. Days when I could work toward fixing everything that was broken inside of me.
I'd research for hours, in the sun. I'd try to get any food down at all, in the sun. I'd stare at my children and my partner out the window as they played together outside in the sun; they'd leave me uplifting giant notes and pictures along the public sidewalk for me to see as I stayed in my bed....and I'd wish in every space of my heart that I could be out there with them instead.
It seems crazy that I have recovered so much; I still have a ways to go, but it's so important to remind yourself where you came from to get the full scope of your journey.
Now my family is gearing up for a abso-fucking-lutely WELL DESERVED vacation this summer! Holy Shit! I can't believe it myself.
I originally had big trepidations about leaving home to travel 12 hours away to OBX, N.C.
What if there is mold at the house? What if I get sick?
What if my kids get sick?
What if I leave something behind I need?
What if I have a shitty time due to my still lingering symptoms, will it be a waste of time and money?
What if my husband blames my for ruining our vacation?
What if I get worse there?
What if What if What if....
Because I have done an incredible amount of reframing and reflection over my lifetime I am so lucky to have the innate ability to pause myself right there.
Negative "What if"s are an absolute waste to dwell on.
Putting yourself into that mental space is not going to serve you in any way.
Check out this article on negative thinking and strategies to work around it.
I've written before on the brain/body connection, and those negative thoughts can certainly translate to your feelings, self-esteem, stress levels, and actual body functioning in negative ways.
We don't need that, we are up against enough as it is.
I decided to go ahead and take the idea of what if and reframe if in a more positive manner:
What if my family has the best trip ever?
What if my husband and I get the break we so desperately need?
What if my children learn new skills, or create new wonderful core memories from this trip?
What if I am totally physically capable?
What if our home actually has a wonderful environment and propels my healing?
What if this trip supports resting/digesting which is vital for recovery?
What if I am so glad I went for this?
I felt very uplifted by this point, and switched gears. I next moved onto the things I can affect or control on this trip to help ensure a safe and good time is had- (as far as I possibly can, things in life always change and for me to expect them not to is unrealistic.)
I could try to set myself and my family up for success though.
Vacationing While Recovering Considerations:
1) Let Go of Fear
I'm letting go of the fear that comes with exposures and trying to enjoy the fact that I actually can go somewhere because I am physically and mentally well enough now.
Having the right mindset is the springboard we need to jump off of to progress in life.
2- Focus on the Facts and Pack with Them in Mind
I'm focusing on the fact that I was in a much worse place than I am now and I have tools and knowledge that I can use should an exposure or reaction happen.
I know what type of symptoms present in different scenarios now. I know what has helped my body recover before.
I'm thinking about:
What healing or health items do I really need to have with me?
What are my core supports in case of exposure?
I am slowly trialing days at home now (months ahead) without some things I am used to, to see if I can let them go for a few days at a time and therefore won't have to bring them on vacation.
3- Check Out the Rentals like a Detective
When we looked online to reserve our home I made sure to go through all of the pictures and try to identify things in the home that might be causes of possible mold or water damage or issues that could lead to those things that would affect me.
For instance I looked around the outside of the house and saw if there was heavy amounts of trees or greenery that could be hanging over roofs or onto places which seasonally drop leaves or other organic material which eventually rot/mold and that aren't usually cleaned up by people who clean the homes. You can see discolored or warped roof shingles, window casings, or house sidings that are affected by seasonal organic rot and weather- leading to mold. Skip those houses.
I also looked to see if houses were in an area that is open, with low level or no plants around them, and houses spread out. I did this to ensure the sun can reach most if not all of the house's exterior. If the home is in an open sunny area, I know that the sun could dry out the areas of the house that were outside that often end up getting wet, & possibly moldy.
A further examination for me was (in our situation) the pool area , because I know obviously the pool is a wet environment and I made sure it was far enough away from the house so moisture and water have space in between to drip off or drain and not be tracked inside. I checked pictures to see if any outdoor showers, decks, porches/porch covers, or grilling set ups (basically anything organic between the pool in the house) wasn't moldy.
If these things looked discolored, warped, peeling, bubbly, or moldy - there was obviously water damage and that is a no go for those who have issues with mold.
Think about if the house has minimal furnishings/appliances/bathroom fixtures. The less water based appliances- the less chance for water leaks. Water leaks can be hidden and lead to mold. Look at each room, are they crammed with shelves of books, papers, board games and... just... stuff? you may want to skip these as paper goods hold mycotoxins well, and also having a lot of "stuff" leaves a lot of places for dust to settle. what loves dust? Mold spores. They hang out in it just waiting to get wet so they can grow.
Check out if:
-The house is up on a hill and has good drainage away from it.
-If the gutters are installed correctly and empty away from the house or correctly into ground drains.
-If the home general appears to be well maintained- clean, and not broken or worn furnishings/appliances.
-Pictures of any basements if possible. You can look for water damage and discoloration or mold there. Finished basements are generally a no-no as they cover up what you want to be examining.
-There is carpeting in the house. Carpet is NOTORIOUS for harboring mold spores, mycotoxins, bacteria, dust, dirt and lots of nasties that we don't want to deal with. Look for a place to stay that ideally has no carpet, or has low carpeting in only a couple rooms.
4- Find Local Resources
I search for areas with restaurants or organic food stores is nearby so that I know that I can continue on my nutrient dense and healthy way of eating while on my vacation so that I'm doing my body the best I can to give it what it needs to function well.
I am looking up what health or wellness stores are nearby our rental, and printing out directions to have on hand in case I do need something I didn't pack, and my husband needs to run out to grab something to help me if I have a reaction.
5- Traveler's Insurance
I made sure to include in our rental contract traveler's insurance. Sure, this protects you in the case of weather and accidents, etc BUT the part I knew we needed to have as a consideration was the ability to cancel our trip due to medical issues or illness. I didn't want our money to be all lost should something come up and we not be able to go on vacation- or- stay the whole time. We would get most of our money back in this situation.
If you are working with a doctor that is treating you, and you have a "labelable diagnosis" and ways to prove that you are actually ill from it and are affected by the environment I have heard of people reporting to the rental agency if there is mold, and having them replace you into a comparable empty property. Obviously, this would be a huge hassle, but it seems to be possible form what I've read.
6- Create the environment you know you do well in.
-Open windows often, keep a cross breeze going in the rental.
-Bring an air purifier (you'll need to disassemble and clean once you get home before using again.)
-Create a temporary purifier with a box fan and some filters. Instructions here:
-Create negative air flow by placing a box fan facing outward in a window in the room you want to keep air clean in.
-Use EC3 candles
-Clean with vinegar/borax/peroxide/oils/water as you desire.
-If there is a room or space in the rental you feel "off" in. Close the door and stay away from that space during your trip. Avoidance is a helpful and free.
-Pay for linens to be washed/exchanged -or- bring your own linens. Bring your own detergents/borax/vinegar to wash linens where you will be sleeping.
I know that can really support myself by having clean food, clean water, and clean air as those are really the cornerstones of our health, so I honestly feel like as long as I can figure all those things and try to make sure I don't see anything clearly wrong with the environment that I think our vacation will go just fine.
I'm embracing this as a wonderful new chapter of my family's life whereby we all can start adventuring together again and reveling in the joy and beauty of the world.
I hope you all are able to try and find a way to vacation - even at a family members home, even in your backyard, even somewhere creative- so that you can enjoy time together with those you love and give yourself the gift of living your life NOW, not waiting to be fully recovered before you begin embracing life again.
Here is the home we ended up settling on:
Does it have mostly everything I wanted, yes. Are there a couple of things that could be better? Probably, but I am very at peace with what I see as far as possible red flags. Nothing you are going to find is going to be perfect. There is no such thing as perfect, just find the best choice you can for what you want and what you can afford and go for it.
You deserve to celebrate milestones in recovery- take a vacation and treat yo' self.