I would be lying if I told you that Venice was awful. Just by being Venice itself it is magnificent. However, on a recent trip there I was blown away and not in a good way. Sure, it is breathtaking, almost too much so. At times, it was hard to even take it all in. The breath of the views from everywhere are magical. Then there is the cuisine which in and of itself is divine not to mention the never-ending flow of wine from the tap. And least I forget the Gondolier. Not only was he handsome but toured us through the windy canals with expert guidance and information. What else could one desire?
In traveling around the globe with Chronic Lyme Disease I find it to be a gentle dance between wanting to see and have it all to listening to my body and its needs. When traveling even if I am doing a day trip I must allow time for rest and relaxation, the quite time needed to recharge. Venice for me, seemed to have none of that. My eyes were exploding from all the beauty that I was surrounded by and my senses were firing off on all guns. For most people that’s just what they want, especially while in a place like Venice. When traveling with Chronic Lyme Disease this can be a dangerous and often a scary place to be.
For me in my Lyme journey, traveling brings me the most joy yet can also bring the most angst and I must be prepared for both. Venice brought about challenges because of the beautiful, never ending windy streets throughout the city. It was like I was in a never-ending maze and being map reading challenged, at times it was maddening and frightening.
The city or island of Venice is broken up into six districts or neighborhoods. Each of these districts are beautiful and breath taking onto themselves. The shopping, food, drinks were everywhere but nowhere was there a patch of grass or a tree to slumber under. I call it my wall. It’s the time when everything seems to go dark and my legs can no longer move, I can’t think and sometimes am unable to even ask for help. Those that know me (my husband for instance), see this darkness coming on me before I even feel it. This wall, as I call it, is the time I need to hibernate and it must be done quickly. So, the beautiful, windy streets of Venice served to be problematic for me.
Self-care is the utmost of importance, especially when traveling. I use these tips to help guide me to insure a great time filled with memories that will last a lifetime:
- Sleep and rest – make sure to find a hotel, Airbnb, or bed and breakfast that is off the beaten path to better ensure peace and quiet. Sleep is the best way for the adrenal glands to recharge and for your body to recuperate. I always pack lavender room spray for my pillow, a lightly scented travel candle and some chamomile tea to drink before going to sleep.
- Drink water – staying hydrated will help your organs to keep up with you. Eight 8 ounce glasses a day is a minimum and when traveling I find the more the better works best. Finding a bathroom can sometimes be a challenge but if all else fails I will just take a break and hop into a restaurant or bar for a sparkling water with lemon and a quick pee. Make sure to have change in your pocket at all times as some countries and in some places, there is a small fee. Those are actually the ones I prefer as it usually means they are cleaned more regularly.
- Diet – why does this word bring up such ugly thoughts? Diet and Chronic Lyme Disease go hand in hand. It’s a lifestyle not a diet, well at least that is what I like to tell myself. With Chronic Lyme Disease we need to lighten the burden that our body goes through to process food so it is best to be gluten free (even if you don’t have a gluten intolerance), sugar free (really hard to do in places like Venice), yeast free (what no bread or pizza?), and least I mention…alcohol free (ok, so this is my cheat). This type of diet in a place like Venice is difficult to do, I will admit. And I must say, this is where I went wrong. I cheated way too much on everything.
- Meditation – This is a daily must do whether you have ever meditated or not. Meditation and deep breathing brings the ever need oxygen to the tainted blood stream and brain of the Chronic Lyme Disease sufferer. Closing your eyes allows us to quite the mind, giving the body a break and a time to recharge. By emptying the mind of thought you give the body time to shift back and strength or rejuvenate to be able to continue its journey. If you are new to meditation grab my e-book Beginners Guide to Meditation here for women and for men (it’s free) and will help to guide you.
- Planning – I can’t stress this enough. I love, love, love to wing it but that act no longer serves me. My days are planned in four hour increments. For me, this four-hour guide insures that I can function, communicate, think, enjoy and participate in activities (I call it my new normal) before my hibernation period. It is best to let everyone know of your plans and to let them in on what you need to do to remain active and alert throughout the trip. By not telling those that you are traveling with about your Lyme Disease is doing everyone a dis-service. It’s like lying to your best friend. All of the sudden you stop talking because you can’t think any more or you stop walking and everyone goes into panic or judgement. If they know ahead of time, then plans can be made and everyone gets to enjoy and you get to see and visit the places that really matter to you.
Chronic Lyme Disease is a life long journey. It is important to see the opportunities for personal growth even in the darkest of times. I believe my Chronic Lyme Disease has made me a better person. It has made me “stop and smell the roses” and to be present. Being present is a gift that I can give to everyone and it is a gift that will be remembered long after I am gone.
Travel well and often my friends. Let self-care be your guide and enjoy all that the world has to offer.