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I’m a married 31 year-old who has been diagnosed with fibromylagia for 12 years. I am on a quest to raise awareness and help others by sharing information and staying positive. Read more
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Tips & Tools for Attending Conferences

Conferences are known for their long days, but don’t let that deter you from attending conferences about topics you are excited about! It might be somewhat hard on your body, but you’ll get to hear about a topic you love and meet people that you already know have at least one common interest with you. For people living with fibromyalgia and other chronic illness that last one can sometimes be a challenge. I recently attended Bloggy Bootcamp and was there for 11 hours straight.

My top tip is something that I SO wish I had done – make sure to take it easy the full week before you attend a conference! This includes making sure that you get as good of sleep as possible the night before. This will allow you the best chance of starting the conference feeling decently! I had done 3 hours of yard work (way more than I normally would do) 7 days before my conference. Shortly after arriving at the conference, my back was hurting so badly that I had to take pain killers. Of course, I wanted to stay mentally sharp, so I couldn’t take strong enough pain killers to actually get rid of my pain. I could only make it barely bearable.

This brings me to my next tip – make sure that you bring any medicines with you that you need to take or that you might need to take, should you start feeling badly. Include a small snack if you need to eat  food with your pills. Pack the items you need to bring the night before, so you don’t have to think about it in the morning and so you don’t forget something. Besides the items I mention in this post, consider bringing something to take notes (notebook & pen, netbook, iPad), cell phone, business cards, gum/mints and a water bottle.

There is no way to predict what temperature conference rooms and restaurants will be, so be sure to dress in layers. I know that parts of the days I was really hot and other parts I was fairly cold. Speaking of what you wear, comfortable shoes are key! You don’t want to be standing around networking, listening to a person talk, while trying to ignore the fact that your feet are killing you. Choose which “extra” networking events you want to attend. For me, I chose to skip the breakfast networking so that I didn’t have to get up an hour earlier or run the risk of that extra morning time wearing me out sooner. I did attend the evening cocktail hour, because it gave me a chance to talk with new friends longer and I could leave whenever my pain was too much to handle.

What are your tips for someone with fibromyalgia/chronic illness attending a conference?


Conferencing it up!



Comment from karen
Time June 6, 2011 at 6:50 am

For the one I’m going to on Wed-Sun. I’ll be taking a pillow – the seating is INCREDIBLY uncomfortable. A battery operated fan as there is no air conditioner and summer has begun in North Carolina. I’ll be keeping a cooler with iced drinks in my car so I can go and get cold drinks without having to depend on a soda machine. I’ll be trying to arrive early to get a decent parking spot as parking is at a premium at the conference site. A blanket to sit on the ground at lunch breaks to avoid the picnic tables (ouch!). I think that’s it for now. I may be skipping some evening events, if I don’t feel up to it. Overall just play everything by ear. I’ll go to the business sessions which are the most important, everything else – if I’m feeling rough I’ll be in the hotel resting!
karen recently posted: National Donut Day June 3rd and yes I know Im late


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Karen – I completely agree that, like most events in life, we need to be flexible with our plans so we can adjust with how we physically feel. I feel for you having to go to a conference with no AC in the summer! I had planned on leaving some things in my car, like water and extra battery packs, but the parking lot was a 10 minute round trip walk from our conference rooms and there was no way I could get there during the conference. Our lunches were scheduled in, so there weren’t any open blocks of time.


Comment from Tammy
Time June 6, 2011 at 9:32 am

It was so nice sitting next to you during one of our sessions! You were so sweet! I hope the rest of your day went well. I agree “rest” for everyone is a must before one of these conferences! I was exhausted yesterday…ALL DAY LONG! Happy Monday!
Tammy recently posted: Weekend Wrap Up – Bloggy Boot Camp Style and more


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Tammy – you, as well! It looks like you guys had fun getting your hair done the next morning!


Comment from TPF
Time June 6, 2011 at 10:12 am

These suggestions are all great. In addition to many of the items you’ve listed, I bring an aluminum water bottle (empty, so I can fill it only as full as I need at the time and avoid carrying the extra weight), tissues (both for runny noses in cold meeting rooms and for blotting spills if necessary), and a comfortable-to-carry tote bag that won’t crumple any handouts or other literature.


Felicia Fibro Reply:

TPF – I also brought a package of tissues, they are one of the staple items in my purse! Knowing that my back had been hurting, I didn’t want the extra ounces of weight that my reusable bottle has, so I used a plastic bottle at the conference and refilled it as the day went on.


Comment from Tami Stackelhouse
Time June 6, 2011 at 8:56 pm

I’m terrible about your #1 tip there, but I’m really great about doing that AFTER the conference. I know I’m gonna be wiped out, so I will actually block out recovery time on my calendar for after the trip.

Along those same lines, I’ve also learned that my body doesn’t like airplanes. I will actually fly in a day early so that I have some recovery time before the event. It may sound like an “unnecessary extra” but I’m telling you, that extra day to recover from the flight is critical! Especially if I want to be able to enjoy my event at all. =)

I will add a couple things to your “dress in layers” tip. I have Raynaud’s. That means that even when the rest of me is happy in the layers I’ve brought, my fingers & toes are icicles. I’ve learned to bring an extra pair of cozy slipper socks to put on during classes. I even went and bought some gloves before going to Texas last summer for the same reason! And yes, I wore the gloves and socks, in Texas, in July, during my conference! =) I also throw a large Pashmina shawl in my bag for those times when even my layers aren’t enough.

I always try to get a copy of the conference schedule early to sort through what MY schedule will be: what my MUST ATTEND events are, what I’ll attend if I have the energy, and what I’ll skip so that I have the energy for the rest. I try to remember going in that I can’t do it all, and make my choices accordingly. Sleep in the morning is always the highest priority. =)

I don’t need to do this anymore, but when my fibro was bad enough, I also made sure to make use of the “special assistance” option at the airport. Yes, I had them push me around in a wheelchair! We need to get real honest about the toll this stuff takes on us and ask for help when we need it. We deserve it. Save your energy for the conference. Don’t spend it walking to your gate at the airport, gals! You don’t want to spend your conference in bed with a flare, right? This just might make all the difference!

In the end, if I don’t take care of me… what’s the point anyway? I won’t be able to enjoy my trip or take advantage of what I learn there.
Tami Stackelhouse recently posted: First Commandment of Healing- Don’t be an ass Honor your body


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Tami – Thanks for bringing up scheduling time to rest after attending a conference! I spent most of the day following my conference on the couch with my legs propped up. I agree that if the conference you’re attending involves travel, it is best to get that finished the day before it. You mentioned your Pashmina – I love how versatile they can be and they are one of the items I never travel without. I have written two posts all about ways to make air travel easier, entitled Tips & Tools for Traveling via Airplane – Part I and II. After my horrible experience flying home from Switzerland, I’m a huge advocate for using wheel chairs when you need them!


Comment from bec
Time June 7, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I never would have known you were in pain, you always had such a smile on your face! It was great to meet you, let’s keep in touch!!


Felicia Fibro Reply:

I’m a professional at smiling through pain, Bec! =) I’m looking forward to getting to know you better and talking wedding talk!


Comment from Jamee @ A New Kind of Normal
Time June 8, 2011 at 11:35 am

This is such a helpful post! I am heading to Bloggy Bootcamp in Atlanta this Oct so this really helped point out some things that I might have otherwise forgotten. I plan on staying at the hotel the night before and the night of to save energy on travel but you made some great points! Too bad we weren’t attending the same bootcamp! Would have loved to meet you!
Jamee @ A New Kind of Normal recently posted: Wednesday Check-in- Summer Challenge!


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Thanks, Jamee! I’m glad you’ll be able to do your traveling on non-conference days, that’ll really help ya out. You’ll have so much fun at BBC, meeting lots of new people!


Comment from Through the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier, Photography Blog
Time June 8, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Great post and so very on spot. It was wonderful meeting you!
Through the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier, Photography Blog recently posted: Digital Photography School- Guest Blogging


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