Getting Away From Pain
I am fortunate enough to have access to a secluded cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia. My wife and I head down there every August for our anniversary and spend a week relaxing in nature.
The 9 hour drive will kill you, but it's worth it for what we receive. Cool air, no neighbors, no noise, no pets, no responsibility. Everything anyone could ask for.
But, a funny thing happens as well. While I’m at the cabin, all my pain literally melts away. For one week, I don’t have axial spondyloarthritis. I feel almost normal. Or, at least, what I think “normal” feels like.
There are a few things that happen at the cabin that help this mountain miracle happen.
There is absolutely no responsibility at the cabin. Yes, I have to cook and clean a little (more on that later), but as far as I can control, nothing is expected of me.
What an amazing feeling that is!
As a husband, teacher, advocate, and parent to 5 furballs, there is a lot that is expected of me. Working, cooking, cleaning, laundry, feeding the cats, and taking my puppy out 18-20 times an hour. I don’t get to sit down very much or for very long.
Don’t get me wrong, I love doing what I do to help out, but not being totally in control of my time and energy is a bit of a downer and a pain in my back.
When I’m on the mountain, All I need to do is just exist. And not having to do everything that is expected of me allows me to do what I actually want to do, like writing, drawing, and sitting in a rocking chair looking at the mountains.
Stress and not feeling like myself are two major triggers for my pain. Remove those two burdens and I am a whole new man!
A better diet
My wife and I have one rule when going to the cabin, once we go up the mountain, we don’t go down again until the day we leave. We’ve been told there are a lot of fun things to do, but we seriously don’t care. We are there for the mountain.
To achieve this, we plan our meals and we buy all our food before we go up. And we plan healthy. Fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meat to grill, and a lot of water to drink.
We would do this at home, but there are 3 Wendy’s and 4 McDonalds within 5 minutes of our house, and when the pain hits, the fast food comes. But, not on the mountain. If we want to eat, we need to cook it. That kind of control over our diet is a real life-changer.
So I grill up the meat and corn on the cob, and my wife makes the salads and other vegetables. And we actually eat like we are supposed to!
The hot tub!
If I could have a hot tub at home, I would. I’d sell all my earthly possessions to afford one and its maintenance because it works like a dream!
Part of the reason I feel the 9-hour drive doesn’t put me down for days like usual is that the first thing I do is crank the tub up to 102 degrees and I soak it all away. My muscles and joints don’t have a chance to be angry sitting in the heat.
I also soak first thing in the morning and right before bed. I wake up loose and I go to bed loose. Plus at night I can listen to crickets and katydids, which is super relaxing for me.
True restful sleep
At the cabin, I actually get to sleep and stay asleep. The room is cool, the bed is comfy, and there aren’t any cats barfing on my head! (Or at least licking my nose.)
At home, I am a light sleeper because I feel I need to be on call to wake up and save the world should a disaster strike. So, every little sound, flash of light, or whimper from my puppy wakes me up.
But, at the cabin, I get to sleep soundly with no distractions or worries. My body actually refreshes and recharges, and my brain cells regenerate, so the only fog is the kind that rolls over the mountains every evening.
Get away from your pain
I am fortunate to have access to this mountain retreat. But, I encourage everyone reading this to find your own place of zen where you can actually escape from your stress and pain, recharge your body, and give yourself a fighting chance over your spondylitis.
Does reading AxSpA patient stories help you in your journey?