Holidays with Chronic Pain
Do We Have To?
The holidays are the time of year most people look forward to every year. Adults look forward to spending time with family and friends, and for many of these it is the only time of the year they get to spend together. Children look forward to presents, candy, and food. They especially cannot wait for time off from school. It is the time of year when there is a change in people they become nostalgic, giving, more appt to get along with relatives, but most just have a feeling of warmth and happiness about the whole season.
Sadly there are those of us at this time of year that try to look at the season with the same warm and fuzzy feeling of kinship and love, but end up with feelings of dread, weariness, isolation, and I think the biggest is having a sense of being overwhelmed and tired. The pain keeps most of us isolated because we are unable to keep up with the pace of the holidays.
Most people during the holiday season spend lots of time traveling to family, friends, and other people they know, or they have them over to our houses to share in the fun and togetherness. The holidays are a time to be together, to take time out from the daily routine and make time for the people we love, BUT before any of that happens things must be accomplished.
The house has to be cleaned top to bottom if company is to come over because it does not get cleaned as well as when company does not come over as many of us can attest to. Now any one with chronic pain knows all too well how hard house work can be. What used to take no time at all is a daylong fiasco ending with pain meds and a bed. There is no time for any of that during the holidays because not only is there cleaning to do, there is decorating, grocery shopping, and cooking. Let’s not forget all the washing of sheets and blankets to go on the beds that have to be made for overnight guests.
Just think of how tired the normal person feels doing all of this and I have only mentioned a few things that go with the holidays, now times it by 10 or 100 or pick a number it just depends on how bad the pain is and how long the flare up will last due to all the extra work and stress. This is the part that is really upsetting because you want company to come over, you want your house to look nice, you want ever thing to be perfect for everyone except you just do not have the energy and your body it has given up on you, it is screaming STOP go sit down please!
You just cannot go another step, but you have to because who else will do it? Yes, someone could help; friends, husbands, wives or children. They could, but then you sit there and watch and it only makes you angry instead of happy because here yet again you are getting cut out of fun, having to take a back seat to the things that make the holidays so enjoyable and special. You’re on the sidelines yet again.
The children are out of school for the holiday season and most parents are happy to spend time with their children. They can be stressful to have all day long, you know this all too well. I think that is why God invented school to give parents a break (just kidding) but they are only young once and they fill the house with laughter and anticipation of all the holiday festivities. Shopping at the mall, holiday parades, and putting up decorations.
I have an example of something for me that hits home in this area. Where I live in Tennessee we have a beautiful place called Rock City Enchanted Garden of Lights they transform in to a Winter Wonderland. There is a Mrs. Clause house and you can go in have hot coco and decorate a Gingerbread cookie. You walk all over and in caverns to see all the lights and displays, they say it is magnificent. It has steps everywhere and small walking spaces. My knee walkers and crutches.. let’s just say I would pass out before I got to the ticket booth. My motorized cart wouldn’t fit into most of the passage ways and before anyone comments… there is a handicap trail so to speak, but you miss 85% of it might as well just look at the brochure.
There are so many other family activities that each city has to offer to make the seasons fun for both children and adults. For those who suffer from chronic pain one of these trips would mean so much pain and bed time to recover, with company over or just your own children and husband/wife they would like more out of you because it is the holidays after all. Just push yourself you need to exercise anyway it might be good for you. Have you hear that before?
Let’s face it.. how many trips can we make to the mall, or shopping before we get tired or in so much pain we just want to go home? Whining isn’t an option when the whole family is counting on you to be there, and if you go home you’re the wet blanket that spoiled everything. So you put on your happy face and pretend everything is fine.
And then the icing on the cake.. you happen to run into someone you know on one of the holiday outings and they see you smiling out and about with family or friends and they look at you and say the words I wish I could burn. “WOW you look great, you’re out and about. You look so happy you must be doing better.” If I get nothing from this article except to educate people about talking to someone with chronic pain, is to never say that or something like it. You have no idea what is going on inside of that person. No one can tell what kind of pain someone is in by what they can see with their eyes. How could they?
So I would like make some statements to think about. Maybe they can be used on relatives or friends so they might understand why you can look fine and still be in extreme pain. If I am smiling that means I must not be in pain right? Okay, then if you say you have a headache, but you head looks no different then it ever has.. you must not have a headache? You say you are sick to your stomach it must be a mistake right, because your stomach looks fine from what I see? You say your back is hurting from walking and you cannot walk, well your back looks like it did yesterday and you walked all day?
Why must people with chronic pain have to prove that they are in pain? Must we walk around with tears in our eyes all the time, have blood and bandages on the parts that hurt and never ever smile so people will believe that we are hurting. If I say I am in pain, then I am. Please do not assume my pain scale based on my appearance, thank you.
Have Happy Holiday Season!
Have you felt like this when it comes to the Holiday Season? Please comment in the section below.