For the most part in life, everything can be moved. Lunch dates and work meetings can be rearranged, and pacing allows us to make a decision every day as to whether our pain can tolerate certain activities at that moment. But, there are some things in life that just can’t be changed, like your birthday, a wedding or an anniversary. These are important dates that we want to celebrate, but pain doesn’t work to a schedule, it doesn’t just disappear when these days come around. So, how do you manage chronic pain on special occasions?
If I know I have a special occasion coming up, then I’ll make sure that in the days before I start to wind down my activities wherever I can. For example, I often go swimming but I wouldn’t go in the 3 days running up to a special occasion, because it leaves me aching and more tired for a few days. It’s important that I don’t clear my whole diary though, because stopping my activity altogether can be just as detrimental to my pain as overdoing it.
Having 2 different options for a special occasion can also be an option, a back up plan B that is more tailored to a bad pain day can mean that if your symptoms flare, you can still celebrate rather than being stuck at home. A whole day out could turn into half a day, or you could split your plans over several days, rather than just one.
Surprises! Personally, I’m not a big fan of surprises anyway, but when you live with an ever changing condition, they can be even more problematic. If I know what I’m doing, where I’m going, I can prepare properly to make sure that my pain is as manageable as it can be for the actual event. If this applies to you too, let your family and friends know that you’d rather have no surprises, to enable you to be able to enjoy the day as much as possible.
Having a plan for after the special occasion is just as important as preparing beforehand too. Sometimes we make a choice to over do it and endure the consequences afterwards. There are some things in life that are just worth it, and it’s totally okay to make that decision. Make sure your flare-up plan is up to date, you’re stocked up on things like heat pads and medication, and have everything you need nearby to ride out a flare-up.
Most importantly, enjoy yourself! Even when my symptoms have been at their worst, I’ve always been able to enjoy these special days in one way or another, sometimes you just have to be a little creative!