But this time I was prepared. Conference season is always tough. As Boyfriend and I both work for universities, September – December can leave us pretty much only just crossing paths if we’re not careful. The opportunities to travel for interesting events are legion at this time of year and can lead to a lot of time on motorways, and in trains and planes.
This year, we’ve managed to do OK, keeping travelling to a minimum where possible and not going to every single event that comes up. I think it has a lot to do with last year, which had us spending six weeks where we basically barely saw each other. We were pretty much working through the week and then I’d be flying to Tenerife one weekend, then he’d be in San Francisco the next. We were in Ohio for two days at one point and then I was off to Manchester for another conference. It was pretty crazy. And we missed each other.
We had also only just moved in together then in September 2013, both relocating to a small town in between the two cities we work in to make commuting easier for both of us, so there was a fair amount of upheaval and change to be dealing with… as well as some settling in. At the time it felt like we were just living the lives of any ordinary young ambitious couple at the beginning of their promising careers (I know, I speak like it was ages ago and I’m old now, but a lot has happened since). We got by on minimal sleep and substandard food and drank our fair share at the conference parties- I was particularly good at that one.
If you’re planning on moving up in the world, you’re supposed to be busy, right?
Well, I guess. But it was on our first night in Ohio that I really started to feel the strain. I’d been back from Tenerife less than two weeks, and the flight from the UK to Ohio had just taken 17 hours with a stop in Chicago on the way. It was late when we got in and we ordered takeaway pizza. The next two days went by in a sort of haze. Boyfriend was receiving an award so there was a dinner and a bit of schmoozing involved. And then we were flying home. After just two days. This is not good for a person.
That was when my bladder pain began. At the time, I assumed it was a simple bladder infection that would pass given a few days so I bought the over-the-counter sachets you dissolve in your drink and waited for it to go. But it didn’t. Odd. I guessed I’d just put up with it for a little while and see if it would clear on its own.
Another long-haul to Chicago for the holidays (where we consumed a whole load more of pizza, sweets, burgers, and wine) and back again for even more party food, and I was feeling pretty sick. It got to the point at the end of our time in the States where I just craved salad and nothing else. My body was crying out to not be fed this stuff any more.
One of the problems with all of these situations is the lack of control you have over the food that’s available to you. I didn’t care so much at the time – I’m pretty much a pizza and beer girl at heart – but now I’m more aware of what I’m putting in my body, I’m painfully aware of the lack of quality of the food you get served at these events. I should say at this point that the majority of the food we ate over the holidays at mealtimes was good quality. The chocolate-covered pretzels, Peanut M&Ms and Diet Coke probably weren’t though.
I was at the first day of a two day conference today and wasn’t taking any chances. I took my own salt beef and salad as at no point did anyone ask me for any dietary requirements during registration. When lunch was served, there was a choice of battered fish and chips, chilli and rice, or vegetable curry and rice. In normal paleo mode, both the chilli and the curry sans rice would probably have been fine, but on AIP, there’s no way all that spice is gonna cut it.
And it’s not just the food either. I forgot to take my own herbal tea bags and then you’re left with the choice of coffee (banned), tea (nope), or water (OK fine, but just so you know… you’re boring). You also have to travel to conferences, which is a long time sitting down – not good if you have a painful bladder – and/or stay overnight in a crappy hotel with crappy beds where a crappy night sleep is guaranteed. As the conference I’m at today and tomorrow is only 90 minutes away by train, I decided to suck it up and travel in and back each day rather than stay overnight. Trying to find three AIP meals a day without a supermarket or kitchen is more than I was prepared to deal with.
Conferences are great. They give you the opportunity to learn, travel, meet new people, and share ideas. I just wish they were that tiny bit more AIP-friendly. People look at you weird when you crack open your homemade salad… especially when there’s fish and chips on the menu!
Do you travel for work? How do you deal with dinner times and managing your stress while you’re away?
Breakfast: Smoked salmon with salad
Lunch: Salt beef with salad and olives stuffed with garlic
Dinner: AIP Shepherd’s Pie with steamed cabbage
Snacks: 3 small packs of raisins, 1 apple and a banana
Pain level (out of 10)
Woke up with minimal pain (about 1), went away at about mid-morning then came back to about 1 or 2 in mid-afternoon. Went away again and then came back again (about a 2) at roughly 7pm. Not a bad day today, but a little bit of discomfort at times. I think the antibiotics are returning me to the same stage I was at pre-flare. Hopefully this is the final stretch.