Living Life, Within the Limits of Chronic Illness

Tag: Christmas

The End of 2022

To say this year hasn’t gone as I expected would be an understatement. From unexpected test results in January, to an emergency hospital admission in April, to adopting a dog in June, to waiting for major surgery since August; none of that was on my radar as 2022 began. But I have survived, taken it all in my stride & coped surprisingly well for someone who doesn’t like needles, blood or hospitals. In March we also lost my Grandad, something that wasn’t totally unexpected but was difficult all the same. 

There have been some good things though; obviously adopting Dolly dog has got to be the absolute highlight of the year; a childhood dream come true and I honestly can’t imagine life without her now. In September I celebrated my 30th birthday in style; by spending a week on Mersea Island with my family, some close friends & Dolly dog of course! My health wasn’t brilliant and I spent most of my time in the accommodation but it was a lovely change of scene and with the beach so close I was able to enjoy some gorgeous views on short trips out.

Christmas is proving to be a challenging time; the first one without my Grandad, the first one we’re planning to have at home on our own in I don’t know how long, the first (and hopefully only) one with me coping with constant discomfort (and sometimes a lot of pain) from a ureteral stent and the first (and again hopefully last) one while still waiting for major surgery. I’m also recovering from a tooth abscess & subsequent antibiotics & root canal treatment; the final part of treatment is in the new year. All of that has made it difficult to get into the festive spirit, but I’m sure we’re going to make the best of it, as we always do.

This year has been a tough one to say the least, and this poor blog has been sorely neglected. There are so many draft posts I’ve started but not finished, some from last year! I just haven’t had the energy or cognitive function to finish & publish them. I’m hoping that in 2023 I can find my way back to regular blogging & perhaps even update the whole site a bit too. Although I guess that’s all dependent on when I have surgery & how my recovery from that goes; 2023 could be spent getting back to baseline, only time will tell. 

In the meantime I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2023. I hope you all manage to have many enjoyable moments over this festive period.

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Christmas & M.E

Well it’s that time of year again. The time where everyone wants to see each other, spend time catching up and having a good time.

It’s a time I always look forward to and dread in equal measures. And I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels that way.

As I write this I am propped up on the sofa with my feet up, under a duvet with boxes of Christmas cards scattered next to me waiting to be written.

You see, with ME or any other chronic illness there’s pressure to join in all the festivities. And I mean all:

  • Sending Christmas cards
  • Putting the decorations up
  • Christmas Shopping
  • Present wrapping
  • Carol services
  • Family parties
  • Visits from friends
  • Visits from family
  • Family get togethers; on all the festive days – Christmas Day, Boxing Day etc.

And there’s probably more I’ve forgotten to mention.

I know friends and family don’t mean to put pressure on to send cards or attend these things, they mean well and just all want to see you and catch up. But even if it’s unspoken pressure, it’s still there.

And it’s not just Christmas either, this continues to New Years Eve.

People forget what happens in the lead up to Christmas. Because they can cope with the extra work that comes with it, they don’t give it a second thought.

But for someone with ME, or other chronic illness, joining in with the preparations takes energy in itself. Just writing cards can be incredibly difficult due to fatigue and painful joints. (In fact this year I’m cheating and only writing who the card is from inside it due to pain making it difficult to hold a pen!)

By the time the actual event comes round energy levels are often lower than usual. Meaning joining in social events at home, let alone leaving the house can be quite a task.

Symptoms are often already flaring; fatigue will be higher than usual having used so much energy prepping for the big day. Then there’s the pain, the dizziness and whole host of other symptoms which arise.

And any further activity, however seemingly small, can cause them to flare further. The more they flare the longer the effects will last. So if I push myself to join in a get together one day, the flare up of symptoms will most likely last a couple of days or a week. If I push through that flare up of symptoms and join in another thing in the days that follow, that flare will not only last longer but the symptoms will be more severe too.

Sometimes pushing through is worth it for the memories it makes; life with chronic illness means there is almost always a price to pay for doing things. And if you’re enjoying yourself you tend to forget the time, so do things for longer than you probably should, meaning the “price”, in the form of increased symptoms etc., is higher than it would be if you’d paced yourself more. But as I say sometimes it’s worth it for the enjoyment you get and the memories you make.

This year is different in many ways due to the pandemic, however with the 5 days of the “Christmas Bubble” whereby you can create a bubble with two other households including your own, I suspect there will still be some of that pressure there. I know that although we don’t have any plans fully formed in my family yet, there will be a meal with our “support bubble” at least which will be enough to wear me out. Especially given how iffy my health is being right now; it’s not a full blown relapse or anything like that, but symptoms are already flaring, old ones returning and moving round the house is becoming increasingly difficult.

I know for many this restriction on the number of households that can mix in a “Christmas Bubble” will be a relief, because some of the pressure that comes with the festivities each year will be reduced as a result. And there is no need to feel guilty about that. It is perfectly okay to feel that way, and it’s perfectly acceptable to set boundaries too, especially if you don’t feel comfortable mixing with anyone outside your household during this time. You do you, and do whatever you feel comfortable with in that regard  (providing its within the law!).

I hope wherever you are and whatever you do for Christmas this year, you enjoy yourself, your family are understanding and you can pace yourself as well as the festivities allow.

Happy Christmas and stay safe x

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