Since returning to the UK from Italy, I have had worse than normal ME symptoms. This is what ME sufferers call ‘payback’, It’s kind of ‘you had a fantastic time and now you are going to pay for it’. My own personal payback usually kicks in 2 days after the exertion and lasts a couple of days. However, this time, it has lasted 5 days so far. Most of today has been spent crashed out on the sofa covered with a fluffy throw to keep warm as my body struggles to regulate its temperature. My concentration and cognitive functioning are struggling and my head feels like a heavy bowling ball balancing on top of a toothpick. I have been very breathy and struggling with speaking. Staying vertical has been extremely difficult for the past 5 days. I feel I have to tell you all about Italy before it becomes a distant memory. So, I am writing it now but please ignore any punctuation/language mistakes….unavoidable I’m afraid!!
My friend Alessia and I jetted off to Marco Polo airport in Venice on the Thursday before Good Friday. We had decided that staying at Alessia’s parent’s house in Udine (ooo-din-ay) (north of Venice), and using it as a base would be the best option. With hindsight, although the least expensive option, it meant there was a lot more travelling involved. At least Alessia was able to drive and so there was no waiting around and relying on public transport (noisy train stations give me brain fatigue). We micromanaged the trip to make it as ME suitable as possible. As I said prior to the trip, the main benefit of staying with Alessia’s family was that if I had a very bad day there wouldn’t be extra pressure to get up and out, I could simply stay horizontal if necessary.
Our itinerary was Venice, Udine, Verona, and Mantua. the furthest point away from Udine was a 2 and a half hour drive. This was a bit of a killer on the return trip, not only for me but also for Alessia who now had a nasty cold and was feeling feverish (the things we do for Foggy eh?!). Italy was stunning, as always. I’ve been to Venice and Verona before but Udine and Mantua were new discoveries. Instead of giving a blow by blow account of what we got up to I will concentrate on how an ME sufferer would cope, or not, with Italy as a tourist.
There are a couple of downsides that I think I should make Followers aware of. If you have seen Foggy’s (many) photos and are now dreaming of going yourself please bear these points in mind:
– 50 % of toilets in public places are literally a hole in the floor. Whether these gross you out or not, let’s discuss practicalities. When I have ‘dead legs’ I doubt very much that I would be able to squat for the length of time necessary to go to the loo (especially when just being vertical is a feat in itself!) So, any sufferer whose condition is worse than mine would struggle. Even posh looking coffee shops can have this type of toilet so don’t think that you can avoid the dreaded squatting situation. I have no idea how a wheelchair user would cope. I rarely saw a disabled access sign while we were out and about.
– Public transport. Getting out and about is mainly done by walking. This was an issue for me throughout our trip. Every day, I would reach the point when I couldn’t walk any further. We were walking about 6 miles a day. I didn’t see many buses and Alessia assured me that taxis are extortionate. There also wasn’t much public seating outside on pavements, so unless you go into the many coffee shops you will struggle to find somewhere to sit and recharge.
– Dietary issues. This was a culinary killer! Surrounded by pastries, coffee, cake, and pasta every day and unable to have any of it. Over 5 days, we only found ONE coffee shop that used soya milk. Even that was vanilla flavoured and wasn’t specifically for coffee use. It was quite upsetting, especially when I had reached my limit and all I wanted was a false energy boost with a coffee/cake and had to have a bottle of water instead…with salad. We went out for dinner during our hotel stay in Verona and, miracle of miracles, we managed to find a vegan/coeliac specific restaurant!! This was the only time I had managed to eat ‘normal’ food during our holiday trekking. Alessia’s mum had made sure she had food/drink to offer me so it was only during our daytime sightseeing that I had an issue. Anyone who didn’t have a ‘home’ to go to and had to rely on hotel food would struggle!
I’ve attached some of my favourite footage/photos from our trip. It was a wonderful trip; we had fabulous sunshine (even if it was blooming cold!). It was extremely busy too because of it being the Easter holiday. Juliet’s courtyard in Verona was filled to the brim with Italians. It took a while but I was determined that Foggy would get his photo taken with Juliet! Mission accomplished. The trip highlights were the gondola ride…squeeee and having our photo taken in the cockpit on our return journey. Thanks Giles and Andy – British Airways pilots.
Click this link if you want to see all of the photos (205!), it is a Facebook album but you do not have to have a Facebook account to see them.
I hadn’t planned on taking a holiday abroad this year because of how tired/ill travelling makes me feel. However, I felt it necessary to personally add to Foggy’s overseas mileage and so I planned this trip. Please do not underestimate how much it damaged my health. It may look easy/effortless but please remember it is an ‘invisible illness’ and you can’t see how dreadful I was feeling behind my screwed on smile.
Please keep following and supporting Foggy, I am very grateful for all support and funds received.
Sally (and Foggy)