One Week Without Beta Blockers: A Cautionary Packing Tale for Moms

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Disclaimer: This is absolutely, like 100%, not – at all – in any way, shape, or form, medical advice. In fact, it couldn’t be any further from medical advice. It is the opposite of medical advice. It is anti-medical advice.

Good. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about that one time (last week) when I went on a week-long ski trip with my husband and kids and completely forgot to pack my beta blockers.

For those who have never required the calming touch of a beta blocker, these medications are used for a variety of heart-related conditions, and for me, are also used to treat anxiety.

Because I’m mom, I’m responsible for packing for everyone. Myself, my kids, and to some extent, my husband, too. (He forgot his deodorant, this was also my fault, obvi). 

Normally, when we’re heading on a trip (not like that’s happened in quite some time), I make an EPIC packing list about a week in advance. I make my husband review the list, we talk about the list for days, and as I pack things, I cross them off the list. After everything is packed, I go over the list again to make sure I’ve crossed off every single item, then I make my husband look at the list again. Next, we pack the car, get in the car, and I spend the entirety of our travel time racking my brain, absolutely positive that I forgot to pack something important.

None of that happened this time. I honestly cannot tell you why. Maybe it’s because the pandemic and quarantining have completely morphed my brain. Maybe it’s because we were going skiing and my husband was more involved in the packing than usual since he’s the keeper of the gear. Maybe it’s because our big vacation was about an hour and a half away from home. I can’t be sure what my reason was, but this time there was no list. There was no obsessive packing routine. I didn’t worry at all that I forgot anything important. 

But then, the first night we were there, I realized I forgot my medication. 

Now, if I were a responsible adult, I’d have called my doctor’s office and asked them to send a prescription to the nearest pharmacy (which was over 45 minutes away, btw). But I didn’t do that. Instead, I said, what could go wrong? How bad could a week without beta blockers be? But coasting on the effects of the last dose of medication, I felt no worry about my oversight and decided to just go with it. 

And so did my anxiety. 

If you happen to end up on a week-long family ski trip sans your precious beta blockers, I would NOT recommend… 

children skiing

  • Watching your 6-year-old approach a ski jump, catch air, and then collide mid-air with a 12-year-old who came up from behind him. They might both land on their feet and proceed down the slope as if nothing happened, but you… you, living beta blocker free, you might just lose it right there on the slope. 
  • Hopping on the last chairlift to the summit with your husband and two kids before said lift closes due to ice and wind. You definitely do not want to do this. No. No. No. Hard pass. Because the only thing worse than being on an icy, windblown chairlift, is being on an icy, windblown chairlift with two scared kids. And the only thing worse than being on an icy, windblown chairlift with two scared kids is keeping it together on the icy, windblown chairlift without your beta blockers!
  • Skiing through the glades for the very first time. You might be able to physically ski through the woods, but your FitBit might also buzz you because your heart rate has hit 150+. And while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the unexpected buzz might send you into an anxiety-induced tailspin until you are out of the glades and can check your FitBit to see why the heck it’s buzzing you. 
  • Taking your kids, including an incredibly picky and sensitive 7-year-old, out to eat. He hates noise and crowds and foods that aren’t “yellow”, so going out to eat with him is always anxiety-inducing. Now, compound the regular anxiety of eating out with the anxiety of eating out in Covid times. Plus no beta blockers?! Honestly, it’s probably not worth it.  

children eating at a tableHowever, if, like me, you find yourself without your beloved beta blockers – with your husband and kids for a week, at a lovely ski resort, I would recommend…

  1. Challenging your adorable 6-year-old to a “No giggle staring contest”. You know, the type where you have to stare at each other until one of you breaks out into a fit of giggles. The 6-year-old will always lose and, my god, those giggles can cure anything. 
  2. Taking a nice, long soak in the bathtub. Go on girl, turn on those jets! One of the best things about ski resorts is the bathtubs. They know your body is sore so they hook you up big time in the bathtub department. Queue up your favorite podcast, close and lock the door, and leave dad in charge for a bit. 
  3. Ordering take-out poutine. Definitely order that poutine every. single. night. You’re dealing with a lot. You deserve this. 
  4. Reading a good book. Luckily, I packed two! Didn’t remember my medication, but I remembered to pack TWO books. One of those books was No One Asked for This by Cazzie David. This was the perfect book for this situation because it (Fill this in. maybe?). Nothing makes your own anxiety feel less overwhelming than reading a book full of essays written by a person whose anxieties outnumber the stars. 
  5. Practicing breathing techniques and meditating. All jokes aside, if you really do end up in a situation where you are without your anxiety medication and you cannot, by any means get it… my best (and, I repeat, non-medical) advice is to do a few breathing exercise (you can find 8 great ones, right here) or listen to a targeted anxiety relief guided meditation from Mindful or Calm

The moral of the story: when you’re going on a week-long family vacay, make a packing list. Then, double and triple-check that list to make sure you don’t forget anything important. You don’t want to end up on a family ski trip without your beta blockers. Trust me, I know.

woman packing a suitcase

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Julie and her husband, Mike, were both born and raised in Southern New Jersey, but recently relocated to Vermont. Though new to the Green Mountain State, it already feels like home and they love the swimming, hiking, and skiing. Julie earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Master’s degree in Theology. She spent the past ten years working with kids and teens but, these days, she's a part-time work from home/full-time homeschooling mom to her crazy boys, Luke- 7 and Liam- 6. Julie enjoys reading big books, writing witty blog posts, cooking new recipes, indulging in celebrity gossip, watching trashy reality TV, and doing anything outdoors with her kids and husband. You can follow her adventures on Instagram, @ur_basic_mom instead, and you can check out her content strategy and marketing business, Writes Well with Others.

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