This week I was lucky enough to celebrate another birthday, and every year on my birthday I like to have an adventure day to celebrate the fact that I'm not dead yet, and there is still lots of life out there to live and experiences to enjoy. It's a day that I take for myself to celebrate having made it this far as well as to celebrate the possibilities that the future holds.
As I'm sure you can tell from my dedication to an annual adventure day, I'm a person who likes to explore and see new things and have adventures, but my body, especially as time goes on, is making the ability to do those things more and more elusive. Living with a chronic illness like Fibromyalgia means adjusting to the changes that inevitably come with it, and for me, my love of adventure is one of those things that has needed some adjustment. For me, having Fibromyalgia (along with a few other health concerns) means I don't have as many adventures or experiences as I used to, or as many as I would like, but one thing it doesn't mean is that those experiences can't be had- it just means that they need more planning than they used to.
One thing that I've had to adjust to is that fact that in most cases, even a single day of successful adventuring requires the planning of before and after the adventure/experience as well as the adventure itself. My days of waking up, leaving the house, finding adventure, then going home without a thought or a plan in my mind are long gone.
First, there is the preparation that takes place in the days and hours before an outing or adventure would begin- drinking lots of water, getting enough rest, implementing ice/heat treatments and medication if necessary to make sure my odds are as good as possible for it to be a low-symptom day on the day that said adventure is scheduled to happen to make sure I can enjoy it as much as possible. Unplanned adventures are incredibly few and far between, because even if I do have a good day where I can go out and have fun, there are still the days that follow to think about, because usually going out and living life leads to a need for recovery, and that is not something to take likely, so planned adventures are a must these days.
Then there is the preparation for the adventure/outing itself. How long will I be out? Will it be indoors or outdoors? What is the weather like? Do I need a change of clothes? Is it a high-energy activity or low-energy activity? Is there plenty of seating/places to rest throughout the day? What medications should I bring? Do I need on-the-go snap-activated ice packs, snacks, extra water bottles- do I have a purse big enough to fit all the things I need (and that matches my outfit)? Do I have a safe place to keep an extra bag of supplies so I don't waste precious energy carrying a heavy bag? There are a lot of contingencies that need to be planned for these days and lists are a must so nothing gets forgotten.
And let's not forget the preparation for recovery from said adventure/outing. Do I have enough food in the house for the hours or days said recovery will take? Enough medication? Is take-out an option if I don't have the energy to cook or are there left-overs I can eat? Do I have enough clean laundry to get me through my recovery period? Are there any obligations that cannot be put off and need to be planned for if recovery takes longer than I think it will? The list goes on and on.
Despite all of this, I'm so thankful that I am still able to go out and do things- even if it takes a lot of planning, even if I'm not able to go out or do as many things as I would like, even though I have to recover from going out in the first place- taking the time on my birthday to specifically celebrate my life where I am in this moment- including the lists, plans and contingencies- is really important to me. It is critical for my mental health to remind myself that just because I have Fibromyalgia doesn't mean my life has stopped and there is still a way to enjoy my life and show up for myself in a way that makes me happy. It reminds me that I am still me.
A lot changes when you are diagnosed with something like Fibromyalgia, but that doesn't mean that you can't continue to live a life you love and are proud of. Even if you have to make a few adjustments to get there, you can get there. If I can do it, you can do it- I believe in you.
- Heather, Fabulous Fibro-Fighter and FSC Founder