The big vacation and the meltdowns

guate[T]oday, I’m chelating again after taking a month off. The first week I took off for business reasons, the second because I was advised that I’m making too many changes too quickly with supplements, the third week for preparing for my first overseas trip in seven years and the fourth week was my big family vacation. Last year we also took a weeklong vacation which was my first since the big crisis/nervous breakdown five years ago. However, I was on Percocet the entire week and in lots of intermittent physical pain, so as an experiment, it was not very revealing. It was also pre-chelation, and pre-methylation therapy. It did give me the confidence to go overseas this year, though.

All in all, this trip worked out pretty well. I’m proud that I managed to be with my wife and daughters and will appear in lots of photos and memories. Happy to have taught my father-in-law about the cure for his “incurable” spondylitis. I’m also pleased to feel that I’m in a solid recovery process, that I’m no longer too fragile to take chances.

What I have feared most about leaving the house since about 2007 is the possibility of having a meltdown in a place and situation where I lack control – where I cannot lie down to rest, get the food I need, where I might run out of cortisol pills, where I cannot away from people or noise. I have feared the adrenaline response to being overwhelmed which over the years has left me frequently unable to rest and recover. After being pushed too far, I would lie down to sleep and be unable to with all the unwanted adrenaline flowing through my veins.

Now, at the risk of sounding overly self-indulgent, I’ll go through the four meltdowns I had on this vacation:

1. First, we got up at 3:15 AM to travel to Guatemala which gave me about three hours of sleep. I was able to sleep on both flights but not deeply. I was also able to eat my home-prepared food and take all of my vitamins and supplements on schedule. There were no flight delays or any problems whatsoever and we arrived at our hotel after a 45 minute shuttle drive to Antigua. When we arrived at our room we discovered it was not the room we had reserved. It was on the first floor instead of the second so it was darker and moldier.

My dear wife was asking me what we should do, but by this time my brain and body was shutting down. It was around 4:30 PM (my usual crash time) and I told her I could not stay in the moldy room and could not be of any further use. I went to sit down in a garden in front of a fountain with my head in my hands. She sorted out the problem with the rooms and by 5 PM I was lying on a bed sleeping. Forty five minutes later I was up and back to life.

2. Two days later we spent the morning with my wife’s sister and her family. They were supposed to leave before lunch when an uncle and his wife were arriving to have lunch with us. We had carefully planned this to avoid having two groups at one time which I knew would overwhelm me. But, my sister-in-law and her family decided to stay and so the two groups merged. They don’t know much about my health situation and my wife is not very comfortable explaining it.

The uncle arrived around lunchtime by which time I was already weak and cognitively impaired. Either my wife or I needed to take charge of the situation and get us to a restaurant but instead my brother-in-law led us off to a chocolate shop and a small museum inside the hotel  grounds. I was caught up talking to the uncle I had not seen in seven years. When I realized that I was way into my red zone and needed to get this big group to a restaurant quickly, I told my wife this (a little angrily I’m sorry to say) and stepped out of the museum.

Because I had been chatting and because my situational awareness was down to about 10% of normal, I looked around in desperation, but was totally disoriented and became very angry that I didn’t know where I was in spite of being a stones throw away. Through a comedy of errors it was about two more hours before we were sitting in a restaurant and served at about 3 PM.

I suffered a lot, but got through it. I was angry with my wife when I realized that her family was completely oblivious to my needs and suffering. She felt criticized and probably unappreciated for all the great efforts she makes on my behalf. Later, I went through the day’s events a hundred times in my mind trying to figure out what I should’ve done differently.

3. One of the big mistakes I made was not carrying food with me. So, the next day when we toured a coffee plantation, I packed some food before leaving. The tour started at 2 PM and I did not know that it was going to run two solid hours. It started off very well but around 4 PM my functioning declined very rapidly and I found myself unable to continue walking and listening.

I got angry again at my helplessness and lack of control and sat down with my head in my hands and waited for the group. But, I was so mentally impaired that, incredibly, I did not remember that I had packed food in the backpack my wife was carrying. Mercifully, the tour ended five minutes later and my wife gave me a big chunk of chicken she had saved from lunch and I was much improved after that (I still didn’t remember about the food I had packed until the end of the day).

4. Finally, I didn’t sleep well the night before my departure and got up with diarrhea and muscle aches. Unable to imagine a full day of international travel in that condition I delayed my flight by a day and decided to drink watered-down juice until my digestive system was functioning better. I spent about six hours in a vegetative state but started coming back with some chicken soup and by evening was eating and feeling well again.

My return trip included a late flight, a big nuisance at security when I refused the scanner machine, running to make my connection, missing the connecting flight because of the physical patdown delay at security, getting rebooked on the next flight, arriving late and finding my car battery dead in long-term parking, and finding Whole Foods closed. But, I sailed through it all (relatively speaking), partly because I was alone having left my family in Guatemala for an extra week. Partly too, because I got a full night’s sleep beforehand due to the easier flight schedule on the way home.

Being in Guatemala and watching my kids study Spanish helped me remember the passion and joy I found there many years ago. Overall this trip felt like a great success from a family perspective.

From a health perspective, taking time off from chelation give me space to think about my supplement schedule and find ways to improve it. I came up with a list of about eight things that I needed to change and implemented them all yesterday and today. It also gave me time to pay attention to my iodine therapy and temperature charting.

I’ve discovered that my temperature taking procedure was faulty. It seems that breathing through my mouth or drinking liquids alters my temperature significantly and I need to take great care to get an accurate reading. Maybe because my circulation is poor, it takes a long time for my temperature to rise after mouth breathing or drinking water. Turns out my temperatures are much more stable than I thought previously.



4 thoughts to “The big vacation and the meltdowns”

  1. Haha.  Clever with the water bottle    🙂     I can definitely relate to the overwhelming panic you describe, even if in not so many words.  I just commend you for stepping out there, into the fire of it all.  The exhaust and pollution you mention would probably kill me.  I’d forgotten how in traveling you’re exposed to so much of that.  I have a hard enough time when my mom sprays some Windex on the window in the other room, or when my nephew washes his hand with soap and then comes near me     🙁

    1. my mom is also sensitive to perfume and other smells so we have a little of that around here too, always try harder to use scent free shampoo, sunscreen etc. when she’s around. we’ve also come to prefer scent-free stuff ourselves and really object to strong perfume in public and the strong smelling detergents most people use these days.

  2. Wow, Eric!  I commend you for making it through your trip!  I felt panicked and overwhelmed just reading it!  My first goal is to make it outside in my town, let alone another country    🙂    Nonetheless, it sounds like you were disciplined enough to keep your composure and to roll with the punches.  Great job!

    1. thanks Tara. I don’t think the character of a meltdown really comes through – it’s so overwhelming when it happens and I don’t think that comes through in my writing. One of the biggest challenges of the trip that I did not mention was breathing car, motorcycle and truck exhaust. did my best to avoid it but it upsets me a lot when it happens. Your writing makes me realize how lucky I am that I don’t react much beyond getting upset. Always use the netti pot once or twice a day hoping that will clean my sinuses out somewhat… In Guatemala I used a plastic water bottle as netti pot:)

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