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Even My Summer Vacation Is Not Safe From 'Bad Days' With Illness

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My definition of a bad day: Tired. Not normal tired, tired like every atom of energy has been sucked out of me tired. Unwell. Not sure how. Not sure why. Can’t quite put my finger on it unwell – just don’t feel right. Grumpy, not grumpy grumpy, not quite tetchy either. Not tired, hormonal, woke up on the wrong side of bed grumpy. Just numb, rather be asleep, want to avoid people grumpy.

It doesn’t matter what they feel like, what they consist of. A bad day when you have a chronic illness sucks. The thing is, you become so used to them, they become such an ingrained inevitability in your life, that in time, surely you should almost come to accept and expect them?


But it’s not that easy…

It’s not easy on an average day. Not easy on a work day, a weekend… Even less so on a day off, a day of planned fun, a social activity, a relaxing two-week holiday…

So why is the fact that I have bad days while on my holiday such a revelation to me?

Here I am, swathed in beautiful sunshine, blissful peace and quiet. Just lying here in the sun, getting plenty of rest, plenty of pure me time. Just getting up for the occasional short walk on the beach. Chilling…just totally chilling. And then, six days in, *bang* – it happens: “Why hello there, Mr. Bad Day!”

He’s back.

He’s just dropped by in that casual smug way of his.

It’s almost like he’s taunting me. Saying, “You hadn’t forgotten me, had you?”

Well yeah, actually I had, you know. While I was melting into sublime bliss I had unconsciously forgotten your annoying habit of turning up when you’re least of all wanted.

No, I hadn’t forgotten I have a chronic illness (two, if you want to be picky). No, I had forgotten either of them. Because they don’t just go away – it’s never quite that simple.

But we were ticking along OK, coping techniques armed, fired and working…lots of rest armed with gentle activity, no stress (which you could describe as a miracle!). We were OK. We were coping in that way we do and most importantly enjoying this summer holiday, this siesta, this two-week little respite of mine.

But when I woke up feeling weird on day six… you know, not right kind of weird, not fully charged, not 100 percent on this planet… it didn’t immediately twig. I carried on as usual, ignored the signs that you just popped by…

It took me half the day to realize, to acknowledge, to accept… “Oh yeah! It’s one of those. It’s him, he’s back!”

I have bad days all the time you say, so what’s so different? What’s the problem? Why am I so pent up about it this time?

The thing is, it’s my holiday time. Mine. My recharge, repair, rejuvenate time, and somehow unconscionably I’m more than a little upset it’s been interrupted. He wasn’t part of my plans – of course he never is. But people go away to get away from it all. So why can’t I? The ME, the fibro, they’re there, always, 24/7 – got it. I know the score.

But Mr. Bad Day? Surely he could leave me be, give me a break, spare me a favor, just one little holiday – is that really too much to ask?

He’s turned up on other holidays, other events and of course I deal with it, I have to, it’s what I do. But this holiday has made me realize it’s all too easy to get caught up in holiday fever and forget that no, I’m not invincible, and no, not every day of my holiday am I going to feel fab – no matter how beautifully bathed in sunshine I am. Yes, bad days happen on holidays too. It’s just another thing to add to the long list of things one has to accept when living with a chronic illness. But it doesn’t have to ruin my holiday, he doesn’t have the right to put clouds over my sky. There’s no point pretending, trying to ignore it, like he isn’t there.

No matter what he inflicts it’s still my holiday, so four days later when he stops by for a second bite, I’m ready for him. Not surprised to see him, I greet him with wry acceptance. Because you know what, Mr. Bad Day? You can come gatecrash my holiday, come do your worst, but I’m determined to make the most of this holiday with or without you!

P.S. Mr. Bad Day, watch out for Mr. Sunshine – he burns!

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Thinkstock photo via gawriloff.

Originally published: July 21, 2017
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