For the first time in many years I survived a holiday weekend. In the past I would fall into what I call a pain coma in the middle of the holiday or by the end of that day, and would remain in that state for days and sometimes weeks. A pain coma is when my pain level is so high that just the thought of getting out of bed is exhausting, my head fills like it is full of sand and I can barely put together a sentence. But not this time….. Here it is the day after Easter and I am out of bed, dressed and have finished homeschooling my daughter for the day and have loaded the dishwasher. Am I pain free? Not a chance, as anyone who lives with chronic pain knows there is no such thing as a pain free day, but the level of pain can and does vary day to day as well as hour to hour. My body is sore and I am moving slowly, but I am moving and that is what is important.
How did I survive this holiday? I kept it simple. Because attending Easter service at church is important to me I made the conscience decision to not exert myself several weeks in advance. If I felt like I could do something yet was feeling extra achy, I forced myself to say NO. I try not to travel on holidays because traveling is exhausting enough without adding all of the holiday festivities. So this Easter was spent at home, hundreds of miles away from all of my family. But it was good. Knowing that I will be seeing most of my family next month when I plan to spend a week relaxing and enjoying quality time with them took the sting out of not spending the holiday with them. The next thing I did was to NOT accept any invitations to dinner or invite anyone over. Socially I didn’t need any more activities. Our church breakfast and service would be all the socialization and physical activity I would need or could handle. So that is what I did. I enjoyed chatting with friends over breakfast and then attended the service. As for dinner, in years past I would drive myself insane trying to incorporate all the traditional foods our families served. Last year was my breaking point. I had a full menu planned but was unable to cook any of it. I slipped into my pain coma when we arrived home from church. I remember lifting my head and trying to form a sentence. I was finally able to mutter “you cook dinner” to my husband before falling fast asleep. Not only did I not cook the dinner, I wasn’t awake to enjoy it. I finally had some left overs the next evening. I was disappointed because I wasn’t the only one who missed out. My husband and daughter spent the day without me as well. This wasn’t fair to them either. Don’t let anyone tell you that chronic pain won’t change your life. It will and it will change the life of those who love you as well. Determined to not have this happen again I scaled back my menu to a few basics. The new family rule is if you want something other that what I have planned on the menu you must make it yourself and clean up after yourself. So I forged on with my simple but delicious menu in place and realistic expectations of my day. The timing of my main dish was perfect as it allowed me to take a 2 hour nap after church. One thing I am learning about living in pain is that it is OK to go with the flow when life throws a curve ball. I had not planned on having guests, but we did end up with one. Our neighbors do not celebrate Easter but their daughter came over to play with our daughter and to swim. She was still in our house when I finished preparing dinner so we invited her to stay. Unplanned but perfect none the less. We enjoyed getting to know her better and sharing our holiday meal with her.
This Easter was proof that I needed to let go of my prior expectations and leave wiggle room in my planning for unexpected curve balls.
I hope you all had a fabulous holiday, even if you over did it. Kudos if you didn’t increase your pain level and no worries if you did. Don’t feel guilty if you need time to recoup. Live life your way!!!