A year ago I still thought my years of pre/post- hysterectomy pain were the uphill-all-the-way hike. I believed I’d soon be rewarded with a gorgeous, pain-free view from the top. Then came fibro and with it, missing out, natural avoidance/fear, and extreme life changes.
Last week Husband and I attended our daughters’ school Thanksgiving performance and Friendsgiving meal. It was a cold-for-Nola-day and I felt full-body awful. I almost cancelled twice, but I’ve disappointed them by being unable to attend so many of their school events due to my health in years past.
Now that I have a diagnosis and an evolving pain plan, I’m determined to show up as much as possible. So I turned my zombie-like under eye circles and pained eyes into well-covered, sparkly ones. On extremely dark eye circle days I use three chemical-free products instead of one or two: Beautycounter concealer pen (recommended to me by fellow #fibrowarrior, @simplylushlife. This link goes to her sale page: I’m proud to support her!); Thrive Brightener; and Glossier Lidstar…as best as possible with my so-so makeup skills. Next I put on pretty earrings and a new dress and boots to brave leaving the house for a public event on a high pain day.
I was happy to be there to watch my daughters sing, hug them after, and chat with their friends: kids are easier for me to talk to than adults when I feel like shite, but just barely. I suffered for 12 hours that day before I took my night meds and went to bed early. (I’m no martyr! I took day meds but found little relief.) I’ve since tweaked my morning meds (from no morning Neurontin to 300mg a.m./my usual 700mg p.m. plus other meds and supplements) with hopes of less weather-induced pain.
While our family chose not to have a traditional Thanksgiving meal last week, we do have our annual Hanukkah party coming up. As I prepare to shop, cook and host, I’m grateful my hands seem up for making 5lbs. of latkes. Nooooo way do I grate the potatoes! I’m no fool: even before chronic pain I bought frozen hashbrowns to save time and energy. Husband will gladly help if my hands ache, but if possible I love to be the one to fry the latkes like my Grandma Flo and Great-Grandma Rose did for other generations of my family.
One thing that’s very different this year is the note I added to the party reminder. Sad, yes, but it’s just one of the ways I’m trying to care for myself: “The ‘cold’ weather causes me to have inconsistent and intense pain, which leads me to this awkward request. Instead of a handshake, hug, or gentle, well-meaning touch, let’s give each other a peace sign or have a long distance hug. After the sweet Thanksgiving gathering at our school I was reminded why I often fear public outings and now wonder if I should wear a pin that says what that day’s pain level is? Skip the five layers of anti-zombie eye cover up so I’m not fakin’ it?! I’m 40, going on Zombie. L’chaim!”
What do you do to help yourself at parties, events, or if shaking hands/being touched by well-meaning but unknowing people hurts? Ideas and questions always welcome! This Psychology Today article has tips for how not to suffer during the holidays.