As I am sitting here writing this at 4am it is currently the FIRST morning of the FIRST vacation I have gone on since my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.
The day before we left I was terrified. I had 2 major manic attacks that day, one of them lasting over 3 hours until I finally passed out for the night. I was quite literally shaking in fear. My husband sat with me patiently, listening to me rattle off every possible thing that could go wrong on the trip and how it would most certainly lead to my death. He held my hands to keep me from digging my nails into my skin so deep that I bled. He counted slowly with me to make sure I kept breathing. He is my superman.
I used to be great at traveling. I moved to Chicago, by myself, when I was only 18. I used to dream of traveling the world and seeing every inch of it! I used to fly back to Minnesota to visit my family and didn’t think twice about getting on an airplane.
I am not sure when that all changed. I think it was about 3-4 years ago, around the time my anxiety became very intense and I was diagnosed with Panic Attack Disorder and PTSD.
Now, even thinking about getting on a plane leaves me scrambling for the bathroom with nausea. Now, staying overnight in unfamiliar places can trigger a panic attack before I even get there. Now, I have to take oodles of medication just to relax enough to be able to go to the place that I am SUPPOSED TO BE RELAXING AT!
Multiple Sclerosis added a whole other level of anxiety to traveling. There are so many “what if’s” and unpredictability when it comes to MS. You can go to bed fine one night and wake up the next morning unable to feel your entire left side, or see, or speak. The thought of having a major attack when I am far away from home, my doctors, and the familiarity of my routine is extremely scary for me. What if something happens to my meds.
I’m going to have to give myself my shots ‘on the go’ for the first time. Woohoo, nothing like injecting yourself with disease modifying drugs and flaunting all of your injection sites in that hot new bikini you bought!
Two nights ago, I did not think I would make it on this trip. Hell, I didn’t even think I would make it out to the car. Even though the massive panic attack was telling me that:
“It’s not safe, it’s an Island for God’s sake!”
“You’ll get sick, you’ll be miserable, you won’t have the things you have at home to help you feel better”
“You are going to freak out. You won’t be able to sleep there at all. You’ll get so stressed out you’ll give yourself a relapse”
All of those things kept swirling through my head like a corndog in a nauseated kid’s stomach on a roller coaster.
I thought about canceling. But I didn’t.
I told myself that this disease and this anxiety has taken so much from me already. It can’t control my life. I WANT to see this beautiful island and waterfalls! I want to go on this trip!!! So, I mustered up all the courage that I could, packed my bags and we made it here!
I am so happy that I looked a scary thing in the eye and told it to fuck off. I am still having a little bit of anxiety, of course. But it is not stopping me from enjoying this time with my family.
This morning I am going to sit and watch the sunrise on a beautiful island, breathe in fresh air, connect with nature and most of all be grateful. Be grateful that I can still go on trips like this. Grateful that I can conquer some of my fears, one step at a time. Grateful that my family loves me and supports me the way they do. Grateful I found a husband who will always have my back and be my shoulder to cry on, bicep to snuggle, and hand to hold. Grateful for this new day. Grateful for this beautiful life.