In my Mission 2011 post today, I want to talk about my big special event this month and what I did to plan for it to make it a success.
Planning for Success
As you know from my posts earlier this week, last week I traveled to Scottsdale, Arizona for a neurology consultation at the Mayo Clinic. After making this appointment in January, the first step I took was to imagine what this experience would look like. That led me to the activities I needed to plan for: travel, packing and trip schedule.
My first consideration was traveling to and from Scottsdale. I talked it over with my husband and we decided to travel by car for this trip, with Robert acting as our designated driver. With the help of Google Maps I learned that the trip by car would take approximately 6 to 8 hours. Before we left, we decided that we would stop at the halfway point, Blythe, California, to have a late lunch/early dinner. Once we got on the road, we discovered that taking advantage of the rest stops every 100 miles or so was also a helpful strategy. I was amazed at how stiff and sore I got just from sitting still in the car for an hour and a half at a time.
I made sure to bring along a couple of assistive aids to make sitting in the car more comfortable. These included a travel neck pillow and a car seat cushion. On the trip to Scottsdale, I realized that I had forgotten something. Since I am so short I have problems resting my feet comfortably on the floor of the car when I'm in the passenger's seat. I improvised by using my backpack as a foot rest. On the trip home I acquired an old phone book to use in place of my backpack. That worked so well that when I got home I used duck tape to turn the phone book into a more sturdy foot rest alternative.
As for packing, I admit that I usually I wait until the very last minute to get my bags packed. Since waiting to the last minute doesn't work so well for me anymore now that I am dealing with chronic pain and chronic fatigue, I decided it was time to allocate a full week to this task. I broke the task of packing up into smaller projects that could be tackled one day at a time. So, for example, I spent one day packing up all my toiletries, another day packing up all my clothes, a third day gathering all my medical records for my appointment, etc. Overall, this strategy worked much better and is something that I will repeat the next time that we travel.
Since the purpose of this trip was to obtain medical care, Robert and I didn't expect to be doing much sightseeing. We knew our days would be planned around whatever medical tests and follow appointments that were scheduled after my initial consultation. Knowing that these activities would use up a lot of my energy, my main goal during the week was to use any free time we had resting and napping.
When Robert and I travel for fun, which we do about once every 18 months, we plan for one day of rest after each day of activity. For me, this is a big change from how I used to approach travel. Previously, I was the kind of person who filled every moment of a trip with all sorts of activities befitting the destination. With chronic illness, this simply isn't possible anymore. Ironically, Robert actually likes my new approach to travel activities much better.
The Week Before and After
The week before we left I made sure not to schedule any appointments or errands outside the house. When I wasn't packing I made sure that I was resting. I also made sure that I got plenty of sleep as I knew that my sleep schedule would be disrupted by both the travel to our destination and a schedule imposed upon me by all my anticipated medical appointments. I find that the night before we leave on a trip I tend to not sleep very well, probably because my body gets wired from anticipation which makes it difficult for me to fall and stay asleep.
Upon our return this past weekend I've been focused exclusively on getting extra rest and sleep to recover from our trip. Again, I have made sure not to schedule any appointments for this week and limited my errands to a trip to the grocery store where I purchased more ready-to-eat items to conserve energy on meal preparation. So far, this has worked very well for me.
The Big Pay-Off
I know my plans have paid off because I haven't flared up. Through planning, pacing and resting, I have learned to manage my symptoms despite travel, a change of schedule, unfamiliar surroundings and a different bed. Now that is my definition of successful special event planning.
Now that you know my secrets, I am confident you can do the same.
- Mission 2011: When Your Special Event Involves Travel (ohmyachesandpains.info)
- Mission 2011: Saying "Yes!" to Special Events (ohmyachesandpains.info)
- My Mayo Clinic Adventure - Day One (ohmyachesandpains.info)
- My Mayo Clinic Adventure - Autonomic Testing on Day 2 (ohmyachesandpains.info)