The most important advice that I have to share with people living with chronic pain or new to the pain game is this: Learn to let go of preconceived notions of how something should be done, let go of traditions that you are physically no longer able to keep up with, and appreciate what you can do.
On this Easter afternoon, I am lying in bed giving my body the rest it craves rather than pushing it past its limits. Not only am I still dealing with Bronchitis, I had relatives visiting and staying at my home for the past two weeks. The first week was nice and relaxing, a trip to the movie theater to see Cinderella was as crazy as I was going to get that week. This past week my brother in-law and teenage nephew visited. With my strength getting closer to normal I ended up spending a day at the beach followed by a day at Disneyland. The following day I attended church for Good Friday. By that evening I knew I would not have the energy needed to be on the go all day on Easter and needed to make some decisions.
In the past my family would attend church then gather with the rest of my family for dinner later in the afternoon. This was fine until chronic pain took over my body. I reached the point where I was always exhausted after attending our church’s breakfast and Easter Service. The last few years before moving out of state were so hard on me. I could not tell you who’s house we met at, who attended, or what we ate because I was in so much pain. Moving to California, where I have no blood relatives or extended family has been a blessing in disguise, because I am no longer expected to show up at all my family’s gatherings. Yet for the first few years I still struggled with trying to replicate the holiday traditions that my mom had kept for us.
This past year has been an eye opening experience for me. I have learned to be flexible. On New Year’s day I promised that I would enjoy life to its fullest by doing what I can and not fretting about what I can’t. And I kept that promise to myself with the Year of Christmas. I have to admit the year of Christmas has been easier to deal with than I though it would be. In the past I would be so sick of looking at my holiday décor that I couldn’t wait to put it away. Not this year. Because of this I wondered how I would handle Easter this year. I was in too much pain to attend Palm Sunday services, but did make it to Good Friday. Which brings me to today.
I chose to attend the sunrise service this morning not because I like getting up at early, but because I knew it would be the least attended service. I also knew that there would be very few people attending that service that knew me. Why would I want to attend a service where I knew the least amount of people you ask? Because I am hurting. I am still having coughing fits, I pinched a nerve in my neck, my shoulders a bit sunburned, and this is in addition to my daily aches and pains. I didn’t want to attend a service where I would not be able to relax because I was worried about who was going to pat me on my shoulders or back. It is harder to predict who is going to do that and asking people to stop is useless. But it is not their problem, it is mine and I found my solution for this blessed morning. Afterwards I enjoyed breakfast with my family before being dropped off at home so that my husband and daughter could continue to help with the later service and to help with the breakfast clean up. I purposefully did not invite anyone to my home for dinner, nor did I accept any invitations for dinner today, because both would be more than I could physically deal with. We did however plan to make dinner for ourselves.
I fell asleep the moment I arrived at home. A few hours later my husband and daughter came home exhausted from cooking and serving all morning. Seeing that they were just about as tired as I was, I proposed we just snack on leftovers today, and make our Easter dinner on Tuesday. There were NO objections.
Who says you have to eat Easter dinner on Easter? Not me!! Who says you can’t leave your Christmas tree up all year? Not me!! Who says you have to stress about doing things the same way year after year? Not me!!! The physical pain and exhaustion are not worth worrying about it. Who knows what next year has in store for me. I could be worse, better, or the same. My point is that I don’t know what next year will be like, all I can do is make the most of each day until then and that is what I plan to do.
I pray that each and everyone of you has/had a blessed Easter and that you found many reasons to laugh and smile!!
The Disabled Diva