Saturday, March 24, 2012

Responsible denial (aka: travel freak-out)

I always freak out about travel, whether it's twenty minutes away by car, or two hours away by plane. With the car situation, I'm always worried that I'm going to leave something at home that I'll need because of a symptom flare. Then, because I don't have it, I have to call the evening short, turn around and go home. If I can go home, depending on how bad the flare is... there's been more than once I've had to crash at a friend's house. I carry a dose of my morning meds with me at all times, for that reason. Plane travel. Wow. Not only do I not have the option of turning around, but the flight itself will likely cause a flare. And the humidity in Seattle will cause a flare, guaranteed (that's why I left!). Pain. Real, physical pain. And potentially an ER trip (if the last 4 times I've flown are to be trusted). This is my travel freak-out.

When I get in this state of panic, I will shut down completely, if I'm not careful. Not that I can't take care of myself, no... More that I'll lose hours just staring, my thoughts racing (or no thoughts at all), because the whole thing is just too scary. I'm going to talk to my doctor and see if I can't get some extra medication for that time. I can go back on the Relpax for the migraines. I have no idea how we're to address the neuropathy. Probably more Ultram so that I'm not bouncing around on higher, then lower, doses of narcotics. But I don't know it's going to be enough. I have to guess and hope I'm accurate. The worst the pain was in Seattle, it hurt to much to hold a pencil in my hands, let alone type. I nearly lost my mind, worrying I'd have pain like that forever. And now I'm volunteering to go back into that environment? I sure hope this works, that's all.

I'm trying to allow myself to feel the fear and do the right thing anyway, but feeling the fear at this point is not helping!! There's just one phrase, one sentence, that is in my way:


That's enough to stop me cold. At that level of pain? Absolutely. That's terrifying.

This is why I am not anti-denial. Sometime, denial is a heck of a useful tool. If I can just block out the part past me getting on the plane here in Denver, then I can still get done what I need to get done, without worrying about what comes after. All I have to do is make sure I am prepared to get on that plan, and be away for a week. I can imagine I'm going up to the cabin, where I routinely feel better, from the higher elevation. I'd need to take the same preparatory steps. I'd just feel better about it, and in that way, I'll actually be able to accomplish it.

I'm aware that I'm fooling myself. That's the intent! I have to do this. The likely reality is scaring me stiff! I have to give myself some carrot. And I can't hang my hopes on this trip working out as my motivation. I need to be able to handle the disappointment if it doesn't work out, and compounding it with, "I did all that suffering! For nothing!" is never a happy time. Also, I don't know what kind of time I'll need to recover once I get home again, so rewarding myself with something at home could need to be put off. That will only make me doubly disappointed. Nope. It's just easier to trick myself into a good mood. I'll probably have a full panic attack once I get on the plane, but my counselor and I have prepared for that.

This is what I call, Responsible Denial-- when my denial enables me to be more productive, more responsible (obviously), and more compassionate to those around me. I go into denial that I'm in pain all the time. Sometimes, it actually works! Then I'm able to use less medication, get more done, and just live more of a normal life. Now, I have to be very careful. I don't want to ignore symptoms that are new, or unusually severe. (The latter is pretty easy, though... massive distress is usually urgent.) New symptoms need to be referred to a doctor. They're the ones who can tell me what it's about, how to manage it, and whether or not I need to worry. Responsible denial is a great tool, but I must never use it selfishly. It's about enhancing my ability to be responsible, not about avoiding consequences.

So... it's off to "the cabin," and now I actually feel like I want to make sure I have a good time. Doing the steps to make sure that happens is going to be easier now. I've even got a smile on my face.

And who knows? Maybe it could all work out... Perhaps my adaptation to high altitude will help me cope at sea level for a short while, because I'm getting so much more oxygen. It could happen! And I won't know until I get there... In the meantime, there's work to be done!


  1. Oh my goodness I feel your pain! I suffer from travel anxiety too but in a different way. After a trip is over I forget how much I hate traveling and how poorly I cope with it. Then when it is time to plan the next trip I forget how hard it was and I make the plans. This year we made our annual two day drive from our home in central Ontario to Myrtle Beach, SC. It was the worst ever for me so that I am flying home. From now on I will not drive but fly. Long car rides are tough on me for reasons which really don't matter, they just are. May our upcoming trip be not as bad as you are expecting but better than you are expecting, and worth the effort. I am praying for you!

  2. Thank you! You're in my prayers as well :^D