Oct 092013

Yesterday, we returned from our most recent trip to Williamsburg, Virginia. It was something like our fifth time going, and while still enjoyable overall, it was fraught with difficulties. Unfortunately, my difficulties. Still more unfortunate is the fact that I may not be able to do anything about them… but it’s long past time to try.

As I’ve never tried to hide, and have probably mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I was diagnosed with IBS several years ago. I say “diagnosed,” but the fact is that “IBS” is merely a group of symptoms with no known cause and no known long-term deleterious effects. Most of the time, it’s not much issue for me, but it often causes me problems and discomfort when I’m away from home.

This was one of those times.

Busch Gardens EntranceWe started our drive on Friday night, stopping about halfway down after 2½ hours. Saturday morning, we did the remaining 2½ hours, checked into our hotel, and headed straight to Busch Gardens. This has always been one of my favorite amusement parks, but after five hours of driving and three meals of fast food, I just wasn’t feeling right. We wandered around a bit, went on a few rides, and left before dark. Granted, I hadn’t been much interested in their Hallowe’en activities anyway (I’m not a fan of being startled), but I simply was off my game.

We made up a bit at dinner, heading to the historic colony for dinner at Chowning’s Tavern. I had a delicious brown ale (Old Stitch), and both Gina and I had a giant platter of fried chicken, ham, macaroni and cheese, and vegetables. Though I was feeling better, and this was quite enjoyable, eating a huge dinner after feeling “off” for a day was probably not the smartest thing to do.

at Busch GardensDespite the risky dinner, however, I continued feeling better Sunday morning. We started with a quick Target stop to pick up some needed things, then headed back to Busch Gardens. More rides, a good lunch, enjoyable show. We did—more or less—everything we wanted to there. My system seemed to be cooperating, which meant my mood cooperated as well.

IMG_0476I even managed to get into all the Hallowe’en decorations and appreciate the efforts they put in… really, just a great day at the Gardens. From there, we did some shopping over at Williamsburg Pottery, which is always enjoyable, and topped things off with dinner at one of our favorite area restaurants, Food for Thought. I stuck with lighter fare, tuna, and a beer flight. Seemed like a safer bet than the previous night’s feast.

From there, we even managed to pop into the Christmas Mouse, which is an always-enjoyable explosion of Christmas ornaments and other paraphernalia for the holidays. We finally managed to get our hands on a traditional Christmas manatee, which was a perfect ending to a great vacation day.

The night, however, was not good. I slept extremely poorly, which is often a hint of things to come.

The next morning, I was not feeling myself, but chose to ignore it, as it was still at an “ignorable” level. We’d spoken the night before about breakfast at Mama Steve’s House of Pancakes, as we’d been amused by the name since our first visit to Williamsburg. Coffee and blueberry pancakes, and I continued feeling somehow wrong.

Then it started.

Governor's PalaceI’ll spare you the details, but I managed to limp my way into the Colony thanks to some meds I always carry with me. Things didn’t improve much, and I was beginning to feel quite nauseated… and as that’s a very uncommon symptom for me (the last time being on our last cruise, wherein I ended up in the ships infirmary), I began to panic. The bad photo to the left was one of only two I took as we walked through the gardens behind the governor’s mansion and I tried to hold it together.

I failed.

Despite additional medication, I knew we had to head back to the hotel. I laid down for a bit, going in and out of little naplets, as Gina went and got herself some lunch. After two hours or so, I felt reasonably human again. Not wanting to ruin the vacation entirely, I chose to venture back out, and we returned to the colony.

outside R. CharltonWe managed to pick up the pieces of the day, but the vacation was fairly well tainted. It started pouring rain not long after we arrived in the colony, which put a further burden on our enjoyment. We went into a few of the buildings, saw some blacksmithing, popped into the wigmaker (where I don’t think we’d been before), and even managed to walk right into a tour at R. Charlton, one of our favorite colony stops.

While in the colony, I got us reservations at Berret’s, in the Merchant’s Square area adjacent to the colony. We did a bunch of shopping in the various stores there (including favorites The Peanut Shop and The Cheese Shop), and popped into dinner an hour ahead of our reservation… which, thankfully, was no problem for them. We split a split of wine (trust me, that phrase makes sense) and had a lovely seafood dinner.

Tuesday morning, we’d planned to head back to the colony, but I was once again feeling “off,” and after some back-and-forth, we decided it’d be best to just start the long drive back.

Reading over things, this doesn’t feel like as “ruined” a vacation as it did at times living it, but it certainly wasn’t our best. The drive back was enjoyable, including a stop on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel for a crabcake lunch and a Pibb grab, but it just seemed that we wanted to do more. And we simply couldn’t, due to how I was feeling.

This brought me to a few conclusions. First, my IBS is clearly exacerbated by anxiety. While I don’t generally feel anxious with travel, it is an anxiety-inducing activity. Yes, the fact that I often eat a lot of crap when we travel is certainly an additional component, and one that shouldn’t be ignored.

The other, currently more important conclusion is that I need to start exercising again. Like, immediately. At this point, I’m absolutely convinced that if I start exercising, my IBS will be a lot better and a lot more manageable. And if it’s not, I’ll still be in better shape, in better health overall, and in a better place to make other approaches to the issues.

IBS aside, I’ve been blessed with a great metabolism. I’m 43 years old, I never exercise, and I still look like I’m in reasonably good shape. But the fact is, I’m in horrible shape. I’ve been losing muscle mass for years, and I stay thin merely because of the way my body digests poorly. It’s time to fix this, while I’m still able.

The story of this vacation is that I need to start exercising.

Oh, and the Loch Ness Monster is still the best roller coaster out there.

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