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How I’m Making the Most of Spending My Holiday at Home

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You know the feeling of needing a holiday. Time away from your own life realities, if even for a few days.

You are probably exhausted from work, life events, health issues, end of year fatigue and numerous other reasons.

My list of reasons for needing a holiday is not short!

A Year to Forget

2021 started well. My health had settled to some degree. I could potter with crutches and was enjoying writing, managing and growing my online support forum and committed to my online volunteer work with Arthritis Queensland, an Australian nonprofit organization.

I even had exciting news…. I signed a contract with a New York publisher to turn my blog into a book! My memoir “My Medical Musings” is set to be published in early 2022. My husband and I are very excited. It’s always been a lifelong dream of mine to write a book, so it’s very surreal.

Life is full of ups and downs, as they say, and bad news often follows good.

Sadly on the 5th of April, my Dad passed away while in hospital. My bond with my Dad and our mutual support of each other over the years was so special, and while I’m grateful to know he is at peace in heaven, the pain and grief of losing him has been hard. My rare disease began to take a turn for the worse in March, so my husband and I were unable to make the trip to his hometown to attend his funeral, making the grieving process even harder. At this stage we didn’t even realize exactly how much my disease was progressing.

In early September I woke to find I couldn’t walk, sit or stand. My left side lumbar spine had basically collapsed with severe spinal stenosis, compressing a bundle of nerves at L4/L5 and I also had a sacral fracture showing on an MRI, on the left. My left leg was like a block of wood and wouldn’t move at all.

I spent five weeks in hospital, bed bound, aside from one physiotherapy session a day. I could only sit up at a 30 degree angle and even then I could only hold this position for two minutes.

I eventually managed to convince my specialists to let me go home to continue rehab through the home hospital program, alongside help from a care organization. So on the 14th October I was finally brought home via ambulance.

Being home means full on care and a lot of work for my husband, who is exhausted. We are so grateful for the carers, nurses, physios, OT, cleaners etc, all supporting us at home. I’ve even found a mobile dentist!

We are seeing some progress. After seven weeks of bed baths I can now stand in the shower with assistance for four minutes. I can sit upright for five minutes and can walk a little with my walker around the house. I need full spinal fusion surgery, but the risks of infection and complications due to my bones being so diseased, make this a non-option.

It’s All a Little Overwhelming

All of the above has left my husband and I feeling so depleted and exhausted. We need to take time out to digest all that’s happened, all the life changes we have made and others we need to make in the New Year.

We need a holiday. Problem is the only way I can be transported from home is via an ambulance. I also wouldn’t be able to function away from home aside from in hospital or a rehab centre.

This situation required us to think outside the box to come up with a holiday plan.

There’s No Place Like Home

Why not holiday at home?

Given my disabilities I wouldn’t be able to do much other than stay in the holiday apartment if we did go away.

Our own home has every creature comfort we could need and is set up to assist me with my disabilities.

It really is my very own B & B.

Medical expenses and being pensioners doesn’t leave us with any spare spending money, so a holiday at home ticks the budget box perfectly.

All we have to do is commit to a holiday at home. We need to decide what this will look like and what changes we need to make to achieve it.

I love a plan and I really love a planning session, so this is part of the fun and anticipation for me.

My Holiday at Home Plan

• Decide how long the holiday will last: we’ve decided the month of December.

• Cancel all unnecessary appointments for the month: everything except the cleaner and GP telephone appointment for prescription repeats has been cancelled.

• Let your close circle of supporters know your plan: we might decide to text every few days to let them know we’re OK. If your situation is like mine, remember they’ve been worried about you given the severity of your health, so a contact plan is important for everyone’s peace of mind.

• Plan activities: reading, watching Christmas movies or test cricket, writing as the mood takes me, my husband will enjoy a walk or time out to take photos, we can play games, enjoy good food and some holiday treats plus the odd afternoon snooze.

• Don’t plan anything: It doesn’t really matter what we do. If we have a plan and it works, great, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter. The whole idea is to dial down the stress and focus on anything relaxing and non-health related.

• Set up your own B & B: this can be the fun preparation part. Put fresh linen on your bed. Perhaps the budget may stretch to a new duvet cover or bedspread. Add some extra cushions, a throw, a breakfast tray, perhaps a new picture on the wall. Before you know it your bedroom could be a new B & B room, all set for your holiday at home escape.

I’ll still be in extreme pain, I’ll still be severely disabled, but I would be like this no matter my location. A holiday at home won’t miraculously change our circumstances.

It can change our mindset though, which is key. It will take us away from a life focused on rehab and recovery.

We need to step out of the medical world as far as possible, just for a few weeks. To do so will likely help with my recovery anyway.

So if you’re like me, exhausted and a little fed up with the medical merry-go-round you’ve been treading, considering shaking things up a little.

Give yourself permission to relax, to reclaim a little normalcy. Be sensible and keep in place anything crucial to support your health needs, but remove any non-essentials for a few days or weeks.

A holiday at home has some huge advantages. For us they include:

• The comfort of our own bed;

• No packing or unpacking required;

• All my mobility aids on hand;

• Our comfortable lounge chairs/recliner;

• Our own TV, wireless network, Netflix etc… no signing in required;

• It’s Christmas and our decorations are in place for us to enjoy;

• We choose the food for our fridge and pantry…. all dietary requirements looked after.

I’m sure your holiday at home plan will have its own unique and important advantages.

The point is trying to go away, when living with chronic illness, can be incredibly stressful. A holiday at home could be the perfect solution.

Have a think about it. Have fun planning it and above all, if life is a little overwhelming and you’re exhausted, don’t think for too long before taking action and booking into your very own, “at home,” bed and breakfast!

Happy Holidays!

Sam xx

Getty image by Bogdan Kurylo

Originally published: December 14, 2021
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