• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


Aches and Pains

Struggling to get into vacation mode.


June 14, 2015

The three weeks before we left for our vacation in Paris were difficult ones. The psychiatrist friend from whom I sublet my private practice office informed me that the landlord was raising the rent so drastically she can't afford to keep the office. The club where my musical improv team performed every week suddenly discontinued its improv program, also for real estate reasons. We were offered a new venue, but the neighborhood is inconvenient and edgy. Several team members don't want to perform there. We may need to dissolve the team. And a film I am excited about being cast in lost its production company, necessitating new shoot dates that conflict with an important commitment I made months ago.

I have also been dealing with relatively minor, but still pesky, health issues — chronic sinusitis and stomach aches, pain from a bulging disc and microfractures of cervical vertebrae, unexplained low grade fevers. Neither my doctor nor I were particularly alarmed by any of this, but feeling subpar made navigating these professional mini-crises more fraught.

I was worried that I would be ill in Paris. Usually I am a good traveler, but I thought the uncomfortable airline seats, changes in air pressure, different food, and inability to swim daily (the activity that provides the best relief for my back and neck pain) were likely to exacerbate my medical issues. I warned my family not to expect too much from me this trip.

We had a particularly uncomfortable flight over. The seats were even more packed than usual. Ben and I had reserved vegetarian meals, but they ran out before they got to us, so he had potato chips for dinner; I had two glasses of wine. We had a layover in Iceland, but it was after midnight so all of the food kiosks were closed. Ben had potato chips for breakfast as well, and I went hungry.

We arrived at our hotel just in time to miss breakfast. We scrounged some bread and cheese before meeting my nephew and his wife, whom we met for the first time. We were already crazy about my nephew, and we all fell instantly in love with my niece-in-law. We spent the next five days walking around Paris, drinking oceans of coffee and wine, overeating rich food, traveling to Giverny by train and bus, and, mostly, talking  and laughing nonstop. I had a wonderful time, and I felt fine.

It wasn't until I checked my phone in the taxi back from the airport and found a series of emergency texts from my supervisory job that I noticed that my sinus headache and roiling stomach had returned. The following morning I woke up with a serious backache.

I am a psychologist and hypnotherapist. I have studied and worked with the mind-body connection for over 30 years—but sometimes I forget to check my own stress levels. I already meditate, exercise and eat a healthy diet, so I'm not sure what the solution is, other than winning the lottery and spending the rest of my life on vacation with loved ones. It was so nice to have a break, though!



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