A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I decided that we were going to plan a weekday funday. He had one more vacation to burn and I had a day off. So we decided that we would take the train downtown, visit the Christkindle Market and then go visit my favorite sloth friend at the Lincoln park zoo. (I really like sloths).
The weather in Chicago had been unseasonable warm (like in the 60s) and I was feeling very hopeful for a nice day. Unfortunately, the day before, the temperature dropped and the wind started gusting. The wind chill was down to about 10 F and I got nervous about our trip. How would I survive a chilly day in the city with fibromyalgia?
In addition to the cold, that morning I got up and I could tell it was going to be a bad fibro day. My legs felt like jello and I had fibro fog. My spoons were going to be limited. So we decided to alter our plans a little bit which brings me to my first rule.
The Christkindle Market is a special event that occurs only one time a year so we decided that would be our only outdoor activity. At least they had a warming tent (that warms you inside and out). The other activity we chose was the completely indoor and heated Field Museum.
I made sure to pack everything I thought I would need for the day, water bottle, Icy/Hot patches, pain meds, protein rich snack, essential oil bracelet and a positive attitude. As I prepared for the day, I remembered my second rule….
After my diagnosis, I experienced a change. I started to care less about how I looked and more about how I felt. Yes, I admit that it has been difficult watching the scale go up and the clothes get tighter but I am no longer one of those girls shivering in leggings and cute shoes because she thinks she is trying to impress somebody.
I wore my Cuddle duds underneath my jeans, tall socks with boots, long sleeved shirt, my favorite hockey jersey, warm hat, ear muffs, my thickest gloves and of course my winter coat. I may have looked a little like the Michelin man but I didn’t care. I was warm.
Chicago might get a bad rap sometimes but it is a great city with a great public transportation system. The buses and trains are mostly clean and you can get anywhere in the city via train, “L”, bus, or even water taxi. The CTA website can tell you how to get to your destination or you can ask any bus driver. Besides, the goal today was to limit my walking even though it was a little disappointing for me because in my old days we would walk the entire city but I just had to remember my third rule…..
Don’t let your disability ruin your day, Focus on the great things you can do.
We arrived and headed towards the windows at Macy’s. In the past, we would go during the weekend and it would be very difficult to see the windows and impossible to get a picture. But this year, we made it on a weekday and I didn’t have to fight any crowds and got some great pictures. Crowds have a way of mentally and physically overloading me.
I loved the fantasy theme of the windows this year!
Next we walked down to my favorite tea place off of Michigan Avenue (because it looks straight out of Harry Potter). We enjoyed a warm drink and a rest. Once I felt a little more energized we headed to the outdoor market. Fourth rule…
TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS
The Christkindle market is an annual German tradition and we have our own little piece of it hear in Chicago. It is filled with traditional German gifts, ornaments, candies and music. Every year, we look forward to potato pancakes and warm gluhwein. Dave got an extra treat this year with a warm cream cheesed stuffed pretzel. Yes, It is as delicious as it sounds. The market is one of my favorite Christmas time activities.
Next stop was the Field Museum. One of the centerpieces of Chicago. Here is where things got interesting. I had been feeling pretty good up until this final leg of our trip. We walked through the first exhibit and I started to get more weak and dizzy. I was starting to feel like one of the mummies. I knew that I would not be able to make it through the rest of the museum and still enjoy myself.
The next step that I took gave me more anxiety than it should have because I wasn’t sure that I was ready to admit that I needed help. I just had to suck up my pride and go down stairs and ask the staff for a wheel chair.
I had so many fears. Would they look down on me? Would they think I was a liar? Would my husband think I was weak? Would they ask my why I needed one? Would anyone I know see me in a wheel chair and wonder why?
I was pleasantly surprised. The woman never asked any questions and never looked at me funny. She quickly got a wheel chair and helped me get in it. I immediately felt better about my decision. I was also lucky because my husband was there to push me around and run me into the exhibits, literally. I’m sure that if the meteorite could survive a fall to earth that it could survive being run into by a wheel chair. 🙂
In the end, I was glad that I did it. I was able to enjoy a large museum without too much pain or anxiety. At times, I felt like the old Katie, able to smile, have fun and crack jokes. It has been difficult to be old Katie with all the pain, depression and fibro fog.
I also learned the final lesson of the day….
ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT
I had a hard time deciding if I wanted to share this story. My family tends to read my blog and I did not want them to see me differently because I needed a wheel chair to get through a museum. However, the benefits of sharing this story with other spoonies out weighed my anxiety. This was the first time that I needed assistance to do a normal activity. If I had not asked for help then I would have had a painful and cranky experience at the museum and it would have ruined our fun day. I hope sharing this experience with you will make you realize that you can still get out and have fun and you shouldn’t worry about making plans to live your life.
Oh, and I still got to see a sloth. Just the giant, extinct kind…