Living with a chronic illness is tricky. We want and need to do things for others, yet many of the things we do increase our chronic pain or forces us to cancel doing something else for someone else. Sometimes, that someone else is you!! Sound familiar?
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Sometimes, it is what our significant other does to express their love that triggers a flare. Because of this, I want to share a few tips to not only help you show your special someone how much you love them but to also express some love for yourself and vice versa.
Sit down with your partner or send this article to them, because together you can make this Valentine’s celebration less painful.
Watch your spending
Valentine’s day is a time for expressing love to your special someone. It is not a day to go broke.
If your celebration depletes both your bank account and energy supply, you are defeating the purpose of the day.
When I spend more than I can really afford on my husband, I begin stressing about how I am going to pay for my pain medication, next doctor visit, or groceries.
When he spends more than we can afford, I am faced with the same fear.
Even years later, those feelings tarnish the memories made on that special day.
You can still express your love without spending extraordinary amounts of money.
One example is to give each other a coupon book. Coupons from your able-bodied spouse could include a massage, helping with housework without complaining, giving you a quiet afternoon without the kids, etc.
Coupon ideas for the chronically ill to give to their loved one could include an intimate evening of sex (let’s face it, we don’t always feel up for it and coupons could ease the pressure to perform when you physically aren’t able to enjoy it), getting out of the house to enjoy a cup of coffee and conversation, an evening of watching their favorite show/movie, etc…
Respect the boundaries of your chronic illness
If you have been chronically ill for a few years, you have an idea of how your body will react to an evening out in mid-February. If the weather during this time of year triggers or increases your chronic pain, then going out will just exasperate it.
If you and your partner insist on going out, make reservations! Don’t risk a flare coming on too early while waiting for a table.
Choose a restaurant that has comfortable seating. Find one that has a quiet and romantic ambiance versus one that has TVs and music blaring.
If you typically are tired or worn out on a weekday evening, plan your celebration for the weekend. Or plan for another night when the rest of the world won’t be celebrating! There is nothing wrong with your romantic dinner taking place next Sunday or Monday evening!
Accept what your chronic illness allows you to do
Maybe you are having a rough year. My heart goes out to you because I know exactly how you feel. There were years when I just couldn’t leave the house or get dressed.
I hated that the best I could do was brush my hair. Sadly, there were a couple of years when that didn’t even happen.
I know how frustrating it is to want to go out, to do something special, to be anywhere but in bed and in too much pain to enjoy being in bed, and wanting to forget your pain even if just for one night, but……
If that is where you are at this year, embrace it. I am not saying that you should be thrilled about it, but that you should remember that this is just one day of your life.
Who knows how you will feel next year. You could be worse or you could experience some improvement.
Look at me, I spiraled downhill for 10 years before I found ways to reduce my chronic pain from fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, degenerative disc disease, coccydynia, and abdominal adhesions from endometriosis and surgical scarring.
Even with my improvements, I still have to respect my body’s boundaries. My body is not happy with the cold and wet weather we are currently experiencing in southern California.
Last year it was warm and sunny and I was spending time at the beach, Hollywood, Disneyland, and Palm Springs without accruing pain. This year’s weather is making getting out as often as I would like more difficult. But I know better days are on the way and because of that, I am not worried that I haven’t been able to go out as much this month.
A little message to the partner that doesn’t have a chronic illness
Please understand that your partner wishes that they could go out to dinner, go dancing, and spend the rest of the evening getting busy with you in the bedroom. Unfortunately, pain gets in their way. Whether they are amidst a flare or know that they will pay for all activity with an onslaught of physical pain the next day, pain rules their brain.
If they say no to a night out, they aren’t rejecting you. If they don’t want to have sex that night, it isn’t because they find you unattractive or don’t love you. They are in pain…..
A little tip, if you really want to increase the odds of having a romantic evening with your partner, clear their schedule for the next day or two.
Sex is painful, flaring or not! Some of us need time to recover. If we have to get up and go to work, get the kids ready for school, go grocery shopping, clean the house, go to church, etc. the next morning, then we are more likely to say no.
However, if you were to schedule it for a time when she/he doesn’t have any reason to get out of bed unless they want to the next day, your odds for receiving a thumbs up increases!
This advice doesn’t guarantee a green light. An unexpected flare could ruin it all.
Putting thought into their after sex recovery shows that you thought about more than having sex, you thought about their needs beyond it.
Do what’s best for you
Do not worry about how others are celebrating. All that matters is that your celebration doesn’t cause physical or emotional stress and is enjoyed by you and your partner.