Feeling Like a Burden on Vacation

Ah…family vacation. A time for fun, excitement, rest…and if I am being completely honest, burdensome feelings. At least, that is the way I felt when vacationing with migraine with my family.

A relaxing vacation on the beach?

Recently, I took a family trip in the southern US where I stayed in a hotel right on the beach. It was a trip that my family and I were all looking forward to for weeks, and I was especially looking forward to the prospect of resting in a quiet hotel room, watching waves on the beach, and getting some much needed relaxation. As trips tend to go, though, things did not go quite to plan.

Prior to relaxing, I had to actually get to the beach. That meant a seven hour of car ride in the hot southern heat.

Packing to be prepared

I had taken consideration of how I might feel in an extended car ride, and was sure to pack for nausea and dizziness. I also brought a cooler full of water bottles, an ice pack, and a silk cover (a life saver) for my eyes. Of course I had all of my medications and sunglasses for the duration of the trip.

The road trip

The first few hours went okay, and I didn’t feel too bad at all. My brother (the driver) kept the AC on full blast and it felt actually pretty good in the car. I kept drinking lots of water because I was paranoid about the heat, but I drank so much water that we had to stop almost every hour —and that meant the journey took even longer than it should have.

Despite the gift of cold AC, by the time we got to the beach I was exhausted, my head was throbbing, and I felt nauseous. When we arrived, all I wanted to do was was go lay down in a hotel room and sleep. I hoped that the migraine symptoms would cede some after some medication and rest.

Logistical hotel nightmares

Unfortunately, the kind of rest I wanted and needed was not available to me when we got to the hotel: our reservation had been messed up, and so the two rooms we were supposed to have with two queen beds and a sleeper sofa in each turned out to be only one. We were told that the hotel was overbooked by two rooms, and that we would need to check back again after 6 pm (which turned into check back the next afternoon…ugh). That meant six people in a hotel room, and four of those folks were my active, rowdy brothers.

The chaos begins

When we got checked in and into the room, it was already chaos. My youngest brothers were excited to be out of the car, and they wanted to immediately let out all the energy they’d pent up on the car ride. They plugged in their PlayStation and turned the TV way up. I was in pain, but I also understood that they were kids who were excited to be on vacation before school let back in. Not wanting to take away from their excitement, I quietly curled up onto the sleeper sofa in a corner of the room and laid my head down. I didn’t want to step on their fun, but I was feeling bad and we’d just arrived.

My brothers were being loud and having fun, and I really wanted to hang out and play with them, but my body just couldn’t. Being in a room with a bunch of pre-teen boys wasn’t exactly migraine-friendly. It became clear that the hotel could not correct our reservation or accommodate us for the night, so I would have to figure something out. My caretaker stayed by my side and tried to help me constantly, but we were both kind of in a tight spot. We couldn’t do anything about the room.

Limited options

My caretaker suggested that food might help me feel a little better. I felt nauseous but hungry at the same time, and I agreed that food might make a difference. I continued to lay down while everyone else researched dinner options. My diet is limited by others illnesses besides migraine, and I am vegetarian. The readily available options to us were neither vegetarian nor nausea-friendly.

After about an hour of searching around for food, we finally found a pizza spot that offered a low-carb cauliflower crust, with lots of veggies and I thought it’d be perfect. It was located inside of a Hard Rock cafe’ and casino though, so I thought it best if I stayed behind. And at least if everyone else went out for food, I’d have a quiet room to myself.

Nothing was falling into place

While waiting for food, I got a call that the pizza spot was closed to do more prep, but that they’d be open in another hour again after re-stocking. After an hour, I was told that the pizza place put up a new sign that’d it’d be another hour and a half before they’d be open. Okay, at this point, I let at an audible UGH. Nothing was going as planned. I did eventually get the pizza, but it took a very long time and I felt as though I was seesawing between feeling awfully nauseous and incredibly hungry while waiting. After eating, I passed out immediately. The first night was wasted it seemed.

Starting fresh

The next day, I was able to secure the second hotel room, but it wasn’t until late in the afternoon. I woke up with a painstaking migraine on day two, and wasn’t sure I’d be able to participate in any of that day’s activities. I took my medication, and really just waited around in the original hotel room until the other room became available. When I finally was able to check into the other room, I showered and massaged my temples for what seemed like ages. It did help, and I just went back to sleep.

It felt so good to be in a completely silent, empty, and cold room finally. By the time I woke up, my family was texting me, ready to engage in beach activities. Since I had already spent all of the previous night and most of the second day in bed, I decided I would partake. I went out to the beach with my youngest brothers to enjoy some sunshine and waves. I brought a big hat and my sunglasses and we set up camp in a nice, empty spot.

Not exactly fun in the sun

It only took about fifteen minutes for an overwhelming feeling to set in. The sun was blaring, and even though I put on sunscreen, my sun allergy was already apparent. It was the opposite of relaxing. One of my brothers gave me a shirt but the damage was done, and I had to go inside. My head was also screaming. It must have been over one hundred degrees out there. I felt really bummed out, but I headed back up to the hotel room, and showered again. My caretaker comforted me and tried to help by getting me ice and water. It looked like I might need to stay in the room and try to recover, again.

Missing out because of yet another migraine

My caretaker and I ended up  just laying down while my brothers met up with cousins their age who were also vacationing. Ugh I thought. Was my whole vacation going to be running away from migraine and other pain?

The rest of my second day was honestly really boring. I spent it in bed. I felt guilty because my caretaker was extra attentive to me, and had spent a lot of time taking care of me instead of enjoying them-self. I asked them to go out and hang with the other adults, as I’d be fine in the hotel by myself. By the time it became evening, though, I did I feel left out.

A whole vacation gone

Throughout the trip, I felt like I was missing out and creating a ‘downer’ atmosphere. I spent so much time just laying around, and before I knew it, the trip was over. I know a few days went by, but It felt like a sickly blur of trying to find the right moment to jump into the festivities, with there never being an optimal moment to do so. Going to big events or attending family events can be difficult with chronic pain, because there are so many well-intentioned expectations for fun and spending quality time, that conflicts with the needs of tending to health. I am glad I had a few moments with family that were special, but it was exhausting trying to balance feelings of guilt, of pain, and of responsibility for taking away from others’ fun while there.

Have you ever been on a trip for relaxation that felt anything but, because of migraine? Let’s discuss in the comments!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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