In a world of push-push-push, sometimes I need to slow down
With an EDS pain flare and travel-induced ailments, my body cried out for relief
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. A couple of weeks ago, for instance, I went out of town for a funeral and then flew directly from there to a conference, where I spent a few days before returning home. The result from that travel? Exhaustion, a cold, and a pain flare from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). I just want a nap!
When I was away, I wound up sleeping on three mattresses in four nights, and while they weren’t bad, they weren’t mine. My bed at home is the perfect firmness for me. A soft mattress gives me back pain, but a firm one with just a little bit of give provides me with the best support and pain relief. Those other mattresses were an adjustment, and when you add the emotional stress of travel — which for me can trigger physical pain — I was in the perfect storm for a flare.
Except when my body is pretending it’s opposite day, my right side usually flares up first. My right shoulder is usually my litmus test; if that’s sore, I know my body is thinking it’s game on for a full-fledged flare. That’s exactly what happened over the past few weeks.
When my right shoulder hurts, my body goes into protection mode without me even realizing it. When that happens, my right arm doesn’t swing or move when I walk; it just hangs limply at my side. It might swing a little bit from the elbow, but not from the shoulder at all. Though it may look bad, it mostly feels kind of numb. I know that it actually hurts, but for the most part, I don’t consciously recognize the pain. That’s one of the ways I cope.
At home, recovery is a priority
After being home for about 48 hours, I started to feel not so great. I’m always tired because of my EDS, but the cold I picked up has apparently added another layer of discomfort. I don’t feel that bad, other than a sore throat and extra fatigue, but that’s plenty given my pain flare.
I’m bad at slowing down, but I’m trying to do it to help my body recover. I’m reminding myself that I don’t have to go full speed all the time, that it’s OK to take a break. The other day, I spent an afternoon just relaxing on the couch, which I almost never do. In fact, my way of managing EDS is mostly through movement. But like anyone else, sometimes I need to press the pause button.
While the past few weeks haven’t been the most fun, they’ve served as an important reminder that sometimes it’s not just OK, but necessary to show myself grace. The world will keep turning, and everything I need to handle will still be there, waiting for me tomorrow.
Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.