Everything Hurts

travel

Traveling Pains

Amanda VinciComment

I've been traveling a lot lately, and like most people, I love it. But unlike most people, traveling can actually cause me to be in more pain than I'm usually in. New and uncomfortable mattresses, long plane or car rides, extra physical activity and an unhealthy diet are all culprits in making some time away mean some time in a flare. I haven't let that threat stop me yet, and although I haven't been able to completely avoid being in pain for traveling, I've got some keys🔑 to being as comfortable as possible during your vacation.

🔑 GET AN AISLE SEAT
Flying on a plane? Make sure to get yourself an aisle seat ahead of time. Sometimes if they're not available the desk attendant can help you out before you board if you say it's for medical reasons! I've found that having an aisle seat means more room to stretch your leg and arm out when someone's not walking by, easier access to the bathrooms and less people touching you unexpectedly. If you're lucky you'll be able to get one that allows the side that hurts the most to get the most room.

🔑 CUSHION IT
Whether you're driving or flying, bringing at least one small cushion with you allows you to prop yourself in ways to avoid pain. Some years ago I purchased this memory foam pebble pillow from MUJI that I always sleep with and travel with. Sadly, I can't find it anywhere anymore, so my old one is one of my most treasured possessions. When I forget to pack it along, my whole trip is out of sync.

Kayaking on Eagle Lake, PA

Kayaking on Eagle Lake, PA

🔑 PLAN IT
I'm a self confessed over-planner. For every trip I go on, work or pleasure, I make myself a Google doc itinerary and save sights and restaurants on my Foursquare. Planning ahead assures me not only that I'm getting to all the spots I wouldn't want to miss, but that I'm not over doing it each day.

I beautiful Airbnb with good mattresses can make all the difference! Austin, TX

I beautiful Airbnb with good mattresses can make all the difference! Austin, TX

🔑 BUDDY UP
Traveling with your emotional support animal can make all the difference in having a comfortable vacation. Contact the airline, hotel or airbnb you will be visiting to make sure you're good to go with your buddy. If you're planning on taking them to restaurants also either make sure they have an outdoor space or are cool with the animal being inside of the establishment. I recently had the most wonderful experience bringing Sneaky Weasel to the Dancing Cat Saloon in the Catskills of NY! They gave him a big bowl of cool water, let him use the rest room and even interviewed him for their Facebook live! 

Sneaky Weasel hits the great outdoors in Eagle Lake, PA

Sneaky Weasel hits the great outdoors in Eagle Lake, PA

🔑 EAT UP
As soon as I touchdown in a new city, I can't wait to taste test the local eats. Planning which places I have to go to beforehand helps me to make healthier choices and assures I'm getting exactly what I want. Being a spoonie often means limited food choices, and can be hard to stick to your diet in uncharted territory. I'm pretty guilty of going way off path, but knowing where to go takes away the stress of finding something edible on the menu.

Delicious Pasta alla Checca (gluten free and vegan options available) at  Hillside Farmacy  in Austin, TX

Delicious Pasta alla Checca (gluten free and vegan options available) at Hillside Farmacy in Austin, TX

Insanely good Chilaquiles at  La Condesa  in Austin, TX

Insanely good Chilaquiles at La Condesa in Austin, TX

🔑GEAR UP
Take travel sizes of everything you use on a daily basis to fight pain in your cargo. Muscle rubs, extra meds, stretch straps and muscle tape always makes it's way into my bag. If you wouldn't go a day without it at home, don't think you can go a day without it on vacation.

My favorite bath bombs and essential oils made tub time at the  Glen Cove Mansion  a sweet escape.

My favorite bath bombs and essential oils made tub time at the Glen Cove Mansion a sweet escape.

🔑TAKE YOUR TIME
I'm a doer, not a relaxer. I'm the first one to get bored laying out by the water or hanging around the hotel room. Something I've been working on lately is enjoying the peace of freedom from the everyday. Your time away should be filled with beautiful sights, culture and adventure, but it should also be about you caring for yourself. Make sure to set aside time to heal mentally and physically and you'll notice the difference when you get back to reality.

Girls spa getaway in Montauk, LI

travel, spa, wellnessAmanda VinciComment

Autumn is long gone, and on these bitter January days I find myself thinking wistfully about the warm November weekend I spent with my mom and sister at Gurney's Montauk.

Gurney's is an iconic Hampton's resort located on a beautiful 2,000 ft private beach in Montauk, Long Island. My mother, sister and I are all hard working girls with packed schedules and little down time. We also all happen to suffer from some ailment or another, and decided the perfect way to spend Thanksgiving weekend would be floating in a warm saltwater pool overlooking the ocean. So to Gurneys we go!

We felt like we were in a different world from the moment we entered the resort. Recently renovated, the soothing interior design sets the tone for the relaxation you're about to encounter. We put down our bags and headed straight to the Seawater Spa.

The highlight of the spa is a beautiful saltwater pool filled with water from Montauk's coast - filtered of course! It's the only way to swim in actual Atlantic Ocean water in November without freezing your butt off. The best part is that the indoor pool is surrounded by floor to ceiling windows, allowing you to get a beautiful view of the beach while catching some rays in the comfort of indoor heating.

Next, we threw on our cozy Gurney's robes and slippers and headed down to the Finnish Rock Sauna. Spoonies, you have to try one of these out for your aches and pains. The high, dry temperatures settle in deep, relieving chronic pains, improving circulation and lowering your blood pressure. The aromatherapy water within the sauna is like inhaling a magic air, flowing through your lungs and helping you to let go off all the stress you hold inside.

We then went to sweat it out in the 120 degree 100% humidity Russian Steam Room (it's like a worldwide Spa in this place!) The moist heat in this room has been used for centuries to help release impurities through perspiration. We settled in and inhaled the sweet eucalyptus, opening our pores and soothing our respiratory tract. Be careful not to stay in for too long, and follow up with an aquatic massage in the Swiss shower right after!

The quiet Roman Bath deep within the spa was definitely a favorite way to end the day. We floated in hot salt water and rested our minds and bodies. The spa at Gurney's also offers massages, facials, skin treatments and more. We left feeling like our bodies had just been to the repair shop and came out shiny and new.

The rooms at Gurney's are gorgeous. Cozy, chic and just the right amount of beachy vibe! We stayed in a double bed room with a beautiful deck balcony facing the water. We had one of those global warming November weekends, and spent a lot of time out on the big couch sipping wine (juice for the sis!) and taking photos of the vibrant sunset.

We ended the day the only way three Italian girls know how — with some delicious homemade pasta, risotto and veggies at Scarpetta Beach, conveniently located right inside Gurney's. With food (almost) as good as my nonna's this Italian hotspot is the place to go for classics and seasonal dishes. No better way to wrap up a "treat yoself" day than with some good girl talk and a sweet treat from the pastry bar. 

If you're in the New York area, or even far away, a trip to Montauk is definitely worth the time and the money. Gurney's is open year round, enabling you to get those beach vibes no matter what the weather. While you're there hit up the breathtaking lighthouse at the end of the island, the adorable nostalgic town, and the high end shopping of the Hamptons. Definitely going to try and make our girls spa getaway a yearly tradition!

Cross Country with Chronic Pain

blog, chronic pain, holiday, self help, travelAmanda VinciComment
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Surprising yourself with your ability to do what you thought you couldn't is a great feeling. During the last week of December and first week of January, I surprised myself with that feeling every day. My boyfriend and I loaded up our car and drove cross country from New York City to Cupertino California. We made this 60 hour trip over a period of nine days. The fact that I sat through, and even drove a portion of 60 hours still blows my mind — I usually have increased pain after being in the car only a few hours.

So how did I do it? It's still a little bit of a mystery to me. I certainly prepared myself for the trip both mentally and physically, but I also learned a lot about my tolerance and my ability along the way. Here are my three keys 🔑🔑🔑 for surviving a spoonie road trip.

 
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🔑 I knew from the beginning that planning would be an essential part of getting us across the country. And not just planning which awesome sights to see, but planning hour by hour when was driving time, when was resting time, eating time... etc. I decided that the trip should begin with some of the longest driving days, and that the time spent in the car would gradually get shorter as the days went on. I knew I would have more pain and less tolerance for staying seated the further we got into the trip. 

The Joshua Tree House Airbnb, Joshua Tree CA

The Joshua Tree House Airbnb, Joshua Tree CA

 
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🔑 My greatest fear in life is being out there in the world and not having any of my pain relieving products with me. I'm not lying, that's the stuff of nightmares. If it was up to me, I would have packed a whole extra suitcase filled with everything that brings me comfort and joy, but alas, that is frowned upon by the TSA (I was flying home). So I sat down, had a heart to heart with my products, and picked the ones I knew would be the most helpful. When leaving home, even if it's for a day, it's so important to remember all your medications, even if they're not daily meds. You never know what you might end up needing, and as a former girl scout, I know it's always best to be prepared.

One of my favorite pain relieving lotions, along for the ride. Post about which it is, coming soon!

One of my favorite pain relieving lotions, along for the ride. Post about which it is, coming soon!

 
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🔑 While you may be listening to your killer road trip playlist, one must never forget to stop and listen to their body. Throughout the long car rides I would take time to focus on what it was that I was feeling, what parts were hurting, and how I would describe the pain. I often dismiss my pain as the same terrible pains without actually dedicating my attention to them. All the extra time I had now allowed me to focus on me. On my body. Doing that allowed me to know when I should get out of the car and stretch, or use a certain product, or even go to the bathroom. I find that the most effective way of treating my pain is to listen to my pain. It's saying something, so hear it — even if you may want to reply with "EFFFF YOUUU".

Marveling the monstrous cacti in Saguaro National Park, Tucson AZ

Marveling the monstrous cacti in Saguaro National Park, Tucson AZ

The amazing part of this trip was that it wasn't about my pain. It was about feeling good, and about time spent together, and about discovering what lies ahead. It's easier to forget your daily struggle when you leave part of it behind. Over two weeks of no work and responsibility did my mind and body a lot of good, even if I was pushing my body to the limit. I felt like I was able to free myself from myself. Letting go of my preconceived notions of what it meant to be a sick girl, and who I really am as a person – how I am much more than my illness.

We stayed in some beautiful places (and one not-so beautiful one), ate delicious food (although not always the healthiest choices), I even got a deep tissue massage (though still not as good as my PT's) and had great conversations (even a handful about my pain).

The little car that could — our VW GTI. Its heated seats got me through the back pain.

The little car that could — our VW GTI. Its heated seats got me through the back pain.

At the end, the trip was not only about unbridled adventure but signaled a change in my life. My boyfriend of almost six years would be staying in Cupertino for work until July. I knew the change wouldn't be easy, but it was necessary. I'm extremely proud of him, and also proud of myself — I've never lived alone, and that was mostly because of my chronic pain. These next six months will be new for me, and they may be scary — but I am choosing to use this time to improve my health and learn how to be independent in caring for my pain. 

Giant rocks of Joshua Tree National Park, CA

Giant rocks of Joshua Tree National Park, CA

When I think about the literal road I've traveled, I can't help but smile. This was something I never thought possible of myself, and there I was, doing it all. And I'll do it all again in July, when we pass through the northern states of America to go back home. During the trip we kept talking about how one hour drives will no longer feel like an eternity now that we've done ten hour trips. That also applies to my condition. If I could make it across the entire US, I can surely be alright if the subway is delayed when I'm in extra pain.

"Prada Marfa" permanent art installation — Marfa, Texas

"Prada Marfa" permanent art installation — Marfa, Texas

The trip had given me a new perspective on what I was able to do.
I knew I could now do what I thought I can't.