Sleep & Heat: When You’re Travelling with Chronic Pain

As promised, I’m going to delve into some issues that can occur when taking an adventure type trip like I did to Costa Rica earlier this month! There’s so much more to manage when you have an illness. As it happens, my friend that I travelled with also has some health issues, so we both went with small pharmacies in our bags. The thing is, two of the issues we encountered couldn’t really be helped by medications.

I77EfXCPScC%m+ozs6VgbAMy favourite hang out spot. At Casa Linda in Manuel Antonio.

Sleep. My both friend and I often struggle with sleep. Let me tell you, when those jungle birds and monkeys wake up at 5:00am, it’s even harder to sleep through. Most days our plan was to get up at 6 or 7, depending on what we had scheduled for the day. Forget that. It was 5 or 5:30 everyday. And sometimes that was after just laying in bed awake for half an hour. Don’t get me wrong, I love the birds, I love the monkeys…. I just don’t want to wake up so early, especially on vacation. We talked to some locals who said they are also woken up by the sounds every morning. Apparently one does not get used to it. Aside from early morning wakeup calls, the occasional night sounds (think thunderstorms and animals), the heat and humidity, and sleeping on different beds (though none were horrible) can totally mess up your sleep. And when you go hard adventuring all day, you are exhausted at night. This was not a restful vacation.

The birds are beautiful but won’t shut up!

Heat. The heat is one thing. The weather network told me it was between 30 and 35 degrees Celsius every day, which is HOT. But then add the humidity in and it’s 40. This is their fall. I don’t know how people manage to go during their summer (our winter) because I was already melting daily. In fact, you pray for the rain every day just to break the humidity. The great part of being in the rainforest is that the rain is guaranteed to come. By day 5 of the trip, I broke out in an intense heat rash on my hands, arms (up to my elbow) and feet. My extra-sensitivity to the sun probably didn’t help. And certainly not ever being able to escape the heat (everywhere we stayed only had fans, no AC) made it worse. However, if that’s the worst that happens, I’m not going to complain. Heat in general gives me less aches and pains, so I was pretty happy.

qUDZgVoiQ3SlGTJfT+gXVgYou know it’s hot when you’re wearing short shorts and a tank top and still sweating!

Next week I’ll go over food and pain experiences in Costa Rica!

Adventuring Through Chronic Pain Part 2

As promised, the adventure continues with this post. I originally intended on getting to it a few days ago, but the amount of schoolwork I have for the MACP program I have entered, combined with work, has left me a little shorter of time than I’m used. But that’s besides the point. I spent 10 days in Costa Rica, and I’ve only written to day 4. So here it is…

IMG_2360Just soaking up a waterfall.

Day 5: ATV-ing in Manuel Antonio. So to start off, I actually woke up that morning with some back pain. I honestly think it was from the insane driving I had to do the day before. I asked the hotel staff to find me someone for a massage for my birthday (Day 6) mostly because I wanted to not be in pain. At any rate, I woke up on Day 5 and waited for the tour bus to pick us up and take us to the ATV site. Talk about an off-road experience. After zipping around the lot for practice, we headed out on what ended up being a private tour because my friend and I were the only people crazy enough to get up so early. Mud puddles, creaks, and little rivers in the countryside, surrounded by palm tree forests, and through little towns. It was a blast. We ended up at a waterfall, where we got to swim for about half an hour or so. We had pineapple as a snack and the tour guide pointed out a snake and a frog to us. Then we ATV-ed back to the property and had a delicious traditional Costa Rican lunch. That afternoon we headed to the beach for some fun in the sun. The ocean water was the perfect temperature and I always find salt water to be therapeutic for my body. Only drawback was I could feel myself getting a burn despite the fact that I kept lathering sunscreen on. The sun is HOT that close to the equator. After drinks on the beach, we headed into town for more drinks at a bar with a great patio for watching the sunset, and then to a really awesome restaurant for a really awesome dinner (shrimp bruschetta is da bomb). Wakeup: 5:00am. Bedtime: 9:00pm


Day 6: BIRTHDAY! Yes, I celebrated my 34th birthday in Costa Rica. Started off the day on a catamaran that headed out onto the beach for snorkelling. I did wake up with a mad sunburn so I did my best to make sure that wasn’t repeated. On the down side, I felt very seasick on the catamaran, but I actually think that was due to consuming too much alcohol the night before. I did enjoy snorkelling though! We got to see a few cool schools of fish, and a pod of dolphins. We also had lunch on the catamaran, though I wish I had felt okay enough to eat more of it. In the afternoon I headed out to get my massage. An American expat who was a physical therapist in the States was my massage therapist for the day. He was great and used a lotion made of coconut oil and fresh aloe vera he cut himself so that I could have a massage without my burn affecting it. Drawback of the day was that after my massage as I was driving back to the hotel, I got in a little car accident. Head on. The other driver lost control and went into my lane on a blind corner, while speeding. Luckily no one was hurt. I had the local chapter for the car rental company make sure our car was okay and made the report. Got through that nonsense (my anxiety was on overload) and picked up my friend who had a birthday gift waiting for me! Then we headed down into Quepos for 2 for 1 drinks and another delicious meal. After that we walked across to the cafe across from our hotel for vegan chocolate mousse (my new fave) and an amazing concert by a local artist (who ended up singing me happy birthday, and we exchanged contact info with). Wakeup: 5:00am. Bedtime: 10:30pm.

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Amazing concert by Chris Arias.

Day 7: Jungle to Jungle. We spent our last morning in Manuel Antonio, wandering around the National Park. Capuchin monkeys literally were right above our heads, close enough to touch! The hike itself was low key, with mostly paved trails (totally different from Monteverde). After that we headed off to Drake Bay in the Osa Peninsula. The drive seemed normal until we met up with the owners of the ecolodge we were staying at. They lead the way on our 2 1/2 hour trip deep into the jungle. No pavement. A few river crossings (one by ferry, one with just our 4×4). Once we got there, Hidden Paradise Lodge, really ended up being paradise. We chilled out at the lodge for awhile, and then went down into town for dinner, with a beautiful view as we watched a thunder storm roll in toward us. In the evening, we sat on our little porch, just watching the rain. Wakeup: 5:30am. Bedtime: 9:30pm.

GYyUUp4YRGiiFSQDp4QGGQHidden Paradise.

Day 8: Corcovado National Park. It’s a real trek to get there but completely worth. From Drake Bay, the town a 15-minute car ride from the lodge we were staying out, it’s another hour boat ride to get to the entrance of the park. We saw some dolphins on the way (different from dolphins we saw snorkelling). Then a guide lead us through the jungle. Again the hike wasn’t very intense but it was very cool. We saw 4 different types of monkeys, tapirs, packerays, tons of birds, a sleeping three-toed sloth, and so much more! We stopped half way to take an hour for lunch at the ranger station, yet another amazing meal. After the hour boat ride back to Drake Bay, we wandered the beach for a bit before heading back to our ecolodge for dinner and a relaxing evening just enjoying being in the middle of the jungle. Wakeup: 5:30am. Bedtime: 10:00pm.

GPWdJsy2SsuVKRdmjibncgWe’re pretty sure we were actually in Jurassic Park. Isla Nublar? Isla Sorna? Is that you?

Day 9: Reconnect with New Friends. After breakfast we left on our 2 1/2 hour drive out of the jungle. And then of course it’s another couple of hours back to San Jose. We did a pit stop in Quepos to meet up with our new musician friend for a few drinks. A great part of travel is the people you meet! After that we finished our drive back to San Jose, got in late and had dinner at the hotel before falling into bed. Wakeup: 5:30am. Bedtime: 10:00pm

MviqWkpQRrqZJApRXVJI9AWe made a new friend.

Day 10: Goodbye Costa Rica. We lounged by the pool for half an hour before heading to the airport for our long flight home. My friend and I both decided that we definitely need to come back to Costa Rica because there is still so much left to see. Wakeup: 7:00am.

EIm72UFiQ+Ci33X4mD9nqgAt Drake Bay. Definitely one of the best trips I’ve been on.

Still to come, posts on sleep issues, humidity, pain, and food. The joys of traveling with chronic illness!

Adventuring Through Chronic Pain

Every time I travel, I think about my very wrong Ex who told me we could probably never travel together because of my illness. I know her comment shouldn’t bother me all these years later, but it does. Because it was ignorant, because it was wrong, and because it was mean. Once again, I have taken myself on a vacation, and this one has been the wildest one yet. Hiking, ziplining, ATV-ing, snorkeling, and off-road driving. Even a stay in an eco-lodge, 2 1/2 hours deep into the rainforest. I didn’t do it to prove a point, I did it because it was a dream vacation that I’ve wanted to do for years. I wasn’t about to let a little chronic pain and illness stop me. Why should I? I only have one life and I want to live it.

IMG_1981Hello Costa Rica!

My vacation plans took me to Costa Rica. The weather was hot and humid (perhaps even a bit too hot as I broke out into a heat rash half way through the trip). Yes, I now direct sunlight isn’t good for my condition, but when in Rome… My friend whom I traveled with, I’ve known for years but this was our first trip together. She also has a few health issues, so we both had to navigate activities, sleep issues, and food restrictions (well, I mostly ignored food restrictions). These all warrant separate posts, so I’m going to start this one with activities.

IMG_1811You’ll have to excuse my airplane hair, sleeping on the plane was the only way I could get through Day 1.

Day 1: Low key in San Jose. We arrived at 10:30am, got our rental car and checked into our hotel. Then we had a little trip to the National Museum of Costa Rica, and a dinner at a “soda” (yes, we ate locally, had a typhoid shot before hand, but honestly all the food was amazing and neither of us got sick). Bedtime: 10:00pm

IMG_1818Posing at the National Museum of Costa Rica. Education is important!

Day 2: Road trip to the Cloud Forest. We left San Jose after breakfast and headed out. Pit stopped at a Animal Rescue which was so cute and a great cause we were happy to donate some money to. Then a windy, twisty road literally up to the clouds and checked into our hotel in Monteverde. That evening, after dinner, we did a Night Tour of the forest, which was honestly a back and forth workout, running around to follow the guide as he showed us some pretty cool animals. Wakeup: 5:30am. Bedtime: 9:30pm

IMG_1871Baby two-toed sloth! My favourite! At the Animal Rescue centre.

Day 3: Adventures in the Cloud Forest. After breakfast we went Ziplining, which included the Superwoman and Tarzan Swing. Adrenaline rush. I did throw out a rib during the Superwoman… definitely need to see my chiropractor now that I’m back in Canada. Afterwards we headed into the Reserve for a 3 hour hike, finding animals and checking out a waterfall. On the way back to the town, we stopped in at a Bat Rescue and got to see some pretty fascinating creatures! Then we headed into town for dinner, and had some drinks and a little dance party for two at the hotel. Wakeup: 5:30am. Bedtime: 9:30pm

897209c5-3e04-4eb6-aed4-79f1ba71c2dfI am Superwoman!

Day 4: Road trip to the Beach. After breakfast we packed up the car, said goodbye to the clouds and drove for a few hours to our next destination. We tried to do a side trip to a waterfall, which was a bust and a very twisty road. And then another side trip to a hot springs… also a bust and a bit of an off-roading experience. When we finally got to Manuel Antonio, we mostly just wanted to drink, eat and relax on our amazing sunset view balcony.

IMG_2088Beautiful view and a hammock to relax in, in Manuel Antonio.

Okay. This has been a long post so I’m going to wrap it up. Next post will continue the activity adventures. Then expect some posts on sleep issues, humidity, pain, and food. Remember, you can still live even if it’s modified. Pain doesn’t stop this warrior.