Even Summer Fun Needs Recovery Time
Summer is finally here, which means it’s time for outdoor events, fun trips, and visits from family and friends. I look forward to each and every one of these memory-filled activities, especially now that I live with ALS. But even just a few days of travel or entertaining, combined with my ALS symptoms, can leave me feeling exhausted.
Now when I find myself struggling to get back to my daily routine, I follow a simple three-part plan to manage my recovery. By doing this, I’m able to regain my energy and rebound with ease.
Why the big post-event slump?
I knew my ALS symptoms were contributing to my low energy, muscle stiffness, and foggy thinking. Heck, car trips are fun, but spending four hours in a seated position can leave me feeling stiff as a rusty metal paperclip!
Sure, gentle stretching helped, but I quickly discovered that my mind needed attention, too. I was tangled in an ALS patient’s worst fear: that my tired, stiff body was a sign that my ALS was progressing. This led to all sorts of negative mental chatter. Exercise? Why bother? Plan for the future? Why bother?
Fortunately, a part of me didn’t want to give in, so I thought about how great athletes come back after injuries and created a plan for my own situation. Within three or four days I began to move and feel better, and soon I was back in the swing of things.
I realized I had wasted a lot of time and energy stuck in a mode of gloom and doom, and I vowed to follow my new plan whenever the need arose.
My recovery plan
1. Planning and expectations: Put as much effort into planning my recovery period as I put toward planning the trip or event. Begin by giving myself empty time — or even a few empty days — before building up to my normal activities. Be flexible in my expectations as to how fast my body responds.
2. Practice self-care: Sleep and nap a lot. Drink fluids, eat healthy foods, and follow my normal eating schedule. Try short bouts of gentle exercise and counter the over-exposure to noise, people, and excitement with quiet “me time” activities.
3. Focus forward: Give myself something to look forward to in order to get over the emotional slump. Anticipate returning to my projects and activities. Research points to the many ways having a sense of purpose benefits our physical health. We make better lifestyle choices such as getting daily exercise and eating healthy foods. We choose more effective coping strategies, and when we feel that our lives matter, we take better care of ourselves.
Sometimes, post-event recovery goes a little easier if I’ve practiced self-care during the event or trip. In an earlier column, I shared how I use the C.H.A.R.M. list to prepare.
Let’s create a summer filled with joy and good memories! When disruptions happen, try using my plan. It is among the many ways I live well while living with ALS.
Note: ALS News Today 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 other 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 ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.
Hey thank you for the nice write ups. My boyfriend has an ALS diagnosis. And he gets down about things.But we forget on and try to be positive about what we do and what's going on Staying in touch with this site is one good way
Thank you Mariam!
Thank you for your good advice, Dagmar. I'm re-reading your column today after returning yesterday from my visit to the Cleveland Clinic, a four hour drive from my home city. I am a patient at the ALS Clinic in my home city and also a patient of the Cleveland Clinic. Yesterday was my first ALS Clinic at the CC. We drove up to Cleveland on July 9, and I tried to get some sleep but had to be up by 5:00am to be ready to leave by 7:00am for the clinic.
The clinic marathon began at 8:00am and lasted until 1:30pm with no breaks! (My husband thoughtfully brought me a muffin and a cup of coffee around 10am.) At the request of my neurologist, I agreed to participate in two different studies which meant remaining at the CC for an additional hour for blood work. Finally, we were on the road again by about 3:30pm and arrived home around 8pm.
Even though this trip spanned only two days, I plan to practice your tip #2 for self care today. My husband and I are planning to spend July 15-22 visiting our daughter and her husband who live in a different state. It's a six hour drive there and back, and my daughter has lots of fun activities planned for us. I plan to follow all three steps of your recovery plan after we return home!
Thank you again!
Diana, that certainly was a marathon session! Take care, rest up and enjoy your visit with your daughter! I'm glad my tips will be of help to you!