I'm Not Tired: International CFS/SEID/ME Awareness Day
May 12, 2015
Tomorrow, my sister Michelle and I will embark on a ten-week health overhaul, a candida/digestive health program from www.thewholejourney.com. It add...
April 25, 2015
From this point, I am adding more structure to this blog. On Saturdays, I'll give a general update on Michelle's and my progress with our illnesses a...
Creative Time Management Series
June 7, 2015
Gluten-free at Busch Gardens Williamsburg: Conquering the SEID Roller Coaster through Nutrition and Pacing
July 16, 2015
This Independence Day, I faced a fear and volunteered to join my family for a day at Busch Gardens. At first, I was apprehensive because 1) my body did not handle my last theme park venture well, and 2) I'm on a strict diet and I worried how I could spend an entire day in a place where it's against the rules to bring your own lunch. But I took a few minutes the day before to plan out my nutrition and pacing strategies, and I was then able to enjoy a special day with my family.
First, if you have dietary restrictions and are stressing about how to sneak healthy food into Busch Gardens, don't worry. Their customer service and willingness to accomodate my needs was surprisingly excellent (sorry for doubting you, BG!). My family planned ahead to eat a picnic lunch just outside the park grounds, and then eat a nice dinner at Busch Gardens. That meant I had complete control over my lunch. For dinner, my family went to The Trapper's Smokehouse. Most dishes came with a roll and fries, so I explained that I can't eat wheat and asked one of the servers for a dish with just chicken. She called the cook who made me a separate meal free of cross-contamination, and they offered an AMAZING side of green beans in place of the other sides. They also serve plain strawberries for dessert. The server and cook were not only accomodating, but very friendly as well. For snacks, I brought my own pumpkin seeds and dried berries. The food/drink policy at Busch Gardens is very strict: none allowed into the park except baby formula. If you have specific dietary needs, you are supposed to talk to Guest Relations at the park entrance. I stopped there, showed them what I needed to bring in, and they said it was totally fine and I probably wouldn't even be stoppped at the entrance when my bags got checked. I walked right through, no problem.
I was also excited to noticed that, in the future when I'm not sticking to just low-sugar fruits, there's a smoothie restaurant in Italy that can make fresh fruit smoothies with no junk in them.
As far as stamina goes, I held up pretty well, especially since I set energy boundaries for myself beforehand. I have never been a roller coaster person, but I used to enjoy some of the rides in Italy like Tradewinds. This time, I avoided any exciting rides and stuck to relaxing ones like Roman Rapids. I enjoyed several of the shows, and I kept "busy" much of the day with baby-sitting duty, watching siblings run around the play areas and taking pictures of them on the rides.
We arrived late morning, and by the middle of the afternoon, I was "I-must-lay-down-on-the-floor" exhausted. That was a great excuse to take advantage of the French coffee shop. After a few minutes of rest and a strong cup of coffee, I was ready to get back in the game. I also experienced symptoms of heat exhaustion late in the day, but after drinking a ton of water and riding the train for a while, I felt a little better. I was finally physically exhuasted and flat-out done for the day soon after dinner, which worked out, because it started raining around that time, so we left. I was glad to blame the rain instead of my own weakness for leaving early. I was tired and sore and had a headache the next day, but I managed to avoid an all-out flare, probably because I had been resting and eating so clean (especially avoiding complex carbs) the entire week leading up to the 4th of July.
If you have health issues and are concerned about committing to an excursion with your friends or family, I'd encourage you to really try to make it work if at all possible. Last spring, I was much more ill than I am now, but during spring break, I had the opportunity to enjoy to a theme park for an evening. I had to rest briefly in the middle of the trip, and I fainted near the end of the evening, BUT for a few hours I enjoyed restaurants, shops, and just chilling out with friends, which, after a semester of school with an ever-decreasing energy envelope, was not something I normally allowed myself to spend energy doing. It doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing venture. You don't have to ride all the rides or visit every nook and cranny of the place you're visiting. Plan ahead, bring healthy food, find places out of the sun where you can rest, and bring a book or audiobook if you know you won't spend much time walking. But at least ONCE this summer, go somewhere. If it doesn't make you flare up for longer than two weeks, it's worth it. If you're severely ill and can't leave the house that often, even spending a relaxing hour or two at a theme park or botanical gardens may be too hard. Try to go to a quiet coffee shop close by with a friend. Spend energy at least once going somewhere to do SOMETHING you wouldn't normally do. It's summer! This is the time to take chances, test our limits, and invest in ourselves.