I have to admit I’m usually a fairly festive person, I love everything about Christmas; the carol services at church, the kindness shown by all, spending time with friends and family, decorating the tree, even the gift buying.

Usually.

This year despite the bright face I’ve been putting on I’m finding it hard to really get into the spirit of Christmas. I don’t know why. Whether it’s because even in the weeks leading up to Christmas it’s all been about medical appointments and managing them alongside festive preparations. Or just that I seem to have so much more to do this year. Or maybe it’s just because I’m still recovering from a virus. Any of those things is possible. Or it could be a combination of them all.

The truth of it is I’m not really looking forward to Christmas. Not in the way I have done other years. This year I’m going to have to use my wheelchair for part of the festivities over the Christmas period, well more of them than I have done other years. I’ve grown used to using my wheelchair when out and about places, but not when visiting other people’s homes. But there is now a walk from where the car is parked to a family member’s home which is unmanageable for me so I will have to use my wheelchair for that. And it feels like a big deal, almost like a step backwards, even though deep down I know it’s not a step backwards, it’s just recognising something which is too much for my body to handle, and finding a way to do it anyway.

I’ve accepted my wheelchair in so many ways, but needing it quite as much as this is a new thing. And as such takes some getting used to.

I am also desperate to get to the Carol Service at my local church this year, but as I write this I am recovering from a virus that has completely floored me. I’ve had to cut back on everything in order not to overdo things. I’m only doing half of the physiotherapy I had been managing fine, I’m having to factor in more rest breaks, and longer ones at that.

The carol service falls 3 days before Christmas Day.

It will be busy. It will be loud. And that’s without the inevitable tea & chat afterwards. I don’t know if or how my body will cope with it. But I didn’t manage to go last year, and it’s an important part of Christmas for me. Christmas without going to a church service of some kind just doesn’t feel right, after all it’s where the meaning of Christmas is.

Do I risk going and being really unwell for the busy days that are Christmas and Boxing Day? Or even worse finding myself falling more unwell while there and forcing someone to leave early with me? Or do I just decide that yet again I’m not well enough to do what I class as an important part of celebrating Christmas?

I really don’t know what to do. Christmas doesn’t feel like Christmas without going to church. Not to me anyway. But just managing Christmas with family and friends feels like it’s going to take an awful lot out of me, and I don’t know if I have enough in me to manage that without negatively impacting my health. Going to church as well might be too much, but should I do it anyway because it’s important to me?

I should be used to making decisions like this by now. I mean I’ve been having to make decisions like this since 2005. Surely by now it shouldn’t be as difficult as this? Surely it shouldn’t tear me up so much to choose managing my health over whatever it is I was hoping to do? But the truth is it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier. Not for me anyway.

So I’d like to wish everyone with chronic illness, no matter how mild or severe, the best of luck for surviving the festive period. For making those difficult decisions about the important events to you, and managing your health. I know how difficult it can be, and I’ll be thinking of every one of you during this busy time of year.

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