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Happy Holidays All Year Long with Chronic Pain!

Many aspects of life need to be modified when you have an invisible illness like chronic pain, and that includes holidays. Modification certainly isn’t (always) a bad thing! Here are some of my good (and bad) stories about celebrating special days with my old ball & chain, Chronic Pain.

New Years:

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Ahh, staying up late. I’m a night owl, but staying up late at a party/restaurant/with friends is a lot different than staying up late with a good book/Netflix/video games. I have almost never stayed up all night without a flare up unless I’m just at home being a lazy bum. So generally, that’s all I really want to do on New Years. My husband and I stay home, watch a movie, play board games, and maybe pop some champagne at midnight. This one almost doesn’t even count, though, because even if I wasn’t sick, that’s the kind of New Years I’d prefer anyway. I’m not a big New Years person, it’s one of those holidays I guess I just don’t really “get.”

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Of course, since going in to labor at a new years party this year, the holiday has a whole new meaning for me now. So stay tuned, because New Years is brand new again.

Valentines Day:

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This is my favorite holiday. In fact, February is pretty much my favorite month because it’s also when my birthday and anniversary fall. So it’s basically a month long extravaganza of people showering me with adoration. I’ve already written an entire post on dating ideas for when you’re not feeling 100%, so I won’t go on too long about this one.

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I did have to learn a hard lesson on this topic recently, though. This past February, I started feeling a little off just as my husband and I were about to walk out the door for our dinner date. I should have stopped right there and suggested we stay in and cuddle, but since we’d just had the baby I had this misguided sense of determination to not be a couple who never went out after they had a kid.

Long story short I ate a breadstick and then threw it up on my way to (note: not inside) the bathroom. So as nice as it is to go out “in spite of it all,” remember that sometimes it’s better to save the money for a dinner on a less special date and enjoy yourself than drag yourself out on a certain day just to end up miserable and publicly humiliating yourself.

Easter:

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I’ll be the first to admit that my family is very…unorthodox…in our Easter traditions. Yet it’s in a strangely orthodox way. Until just recently, we didn’t have any kids of egg hunting age in the family, but hello we all still love candy. So my mom hides eggs for us anyway. But it’s extreme. As in this year there’s still an egg missing at the time of this writing. It’s nice because there’s no running for eggs. It’s a long game of puzzles and combing every inch of the house outside and in to find eggs camouflaged and in unexpected places.

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We also have a Christian seder? On Maudy Thursday? For the Passover Last Supper…? Where we play the drinking game where you name all the plagues and the Elijah drinking game? And we watch Exodus Gods and Kings or The Prince of Egypt? *watches as all my Jewish followers unsubscribe* But really, this entire post is about creating your own traditions for holidays and my family definitely has that going on.

I also love all the special church services, but similarly to New Years I’ve found that sunrise services don’t tend to agree with me.

April Fools Day:

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Some people say that Halloween is a celebration of Satan and evil, but they’re wrong – April Fools Day is. Don’t be a jerk!

Earth Day:

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If you’re in the North Texas area, check out Earth Day Texas at Fair Park! It’s a free event where you can see just about anything earth-friendly, from presentations on animals like birds and reptiles, to local organic food, to the latest eco-friendly technology. If you’re feeling up to it, there’s tons of booths outside and inside to walk around and discover. Feeling tired? Come out and get lunch and listen to live music. The weather’s usually not too hot yet and it’s the perfect time to unwind outside. This year they’ve started serving alcohol at the event as well if you need some help unwinding.

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Not in Texas? One of my favorite relaxing ways to celebrate is to go see the annual DisneyNature documentary. They always do something for the environment with the ticket sales, like planting a tree for each ticket sold. Plus the movies are always great.

The 4th of July:

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I have an unhealthy relationship with July 4th. I love fireworks but mix large crowds, lots of walking, and Texas heat and you’ve got one very sick Rachel. I often brave it, though, because I really really reeeeaaaallly love fireworks! We’ve discovered a firework show that happens at a local airport surrounded by restaurants, and if you can deal with a lot of traffic and making reservations it’s a great option. You can eat indoors, step out to the parking lot for the show, then return to a table and drinks. That’s a pretty good setup. Sure, having a sit down Italian meal isn’t really the same as outdoor BBQ, but that’s okay. America is a melting pot after all!

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This year we discovered that a membership at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum (located at the airport) gets you seating on the unused runways during the fireworks. I’ll check in later and let you know if it works out for me and chronic pain this year. Traffic will still be a huge issue I’m sure, and we will be outside, but hopefully without crowds and a lot of walking? I don’t know guys. July 4th is tough. I haven’t mastered it yet, haha.

Halloween:

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I’ve written before about the absolute tragedy of missing Halloween. I freaking LOVE Halloween and being sick on Halloween is the very saddest thing ever – especially since I definitely prepared a costume. As an adult with no kids, I liked to have “candy feasts” where everyone brings candy and we play Cards Against Humanity and everything is awesome, but hosting a party isn’t something I can do every year.

(Note: Now that I have a kid I am so trick or treating for the next 18 years. I earned it.)

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But my more mellow Halloween tradition is to kick back with a “scary” movie (that usually errs on being more funny than it is scary) and a bag of candy. And of COURSE dress up no matter what! I love answering the door for the local trick or treaters too, though I know not every neighborhood has that luxury. I remember being so sad my first year in an apartment when we didn’t get one knock.

Thanksgiving:

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Thanksgiving is one of the more laid-back, easy to handle holidays. While tummy issues have occasionally reared their ugly heads, I haven’t had to modify this holiday too much. It’s pretty acceptable to flop around on the couch all day. And talking a family walk after dinner really helps settle an angry tummy.

Christmas:

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This is another holiday that has its own post, but like Thanksgiving, it’s a great time to curl up on the couch. Cuddling is widely accepted, whether it’s in front of a fire, a classic Christmas movie, or the little ones opening presents. The real trick to surviving Christmas is the build up decorating and shopping… which I don’t think anyone has modified to satisfaction yet. 😉

What about you? How do you do holidays with an invisible illness? International readers, what holidays do you celebrate and how? I want to hear about it! Tell me your holiday traditions and tips in the comments!

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About rachelmeeks

My name is Rachel Meeks. I have endometriosis, an incurable pain condition, IBS, a digestive illness, and PCOS, which causes irregular periods and infertility. After keeping my illnesses a secret, I started to get upset about how my fellow sick people were being mistreated because of ignorance. I knew that I'd need to stand up, make some noise, wear my heart on my sleeve, and admit that I am not well to make a difference.

3 responses to “Happy Holidays All Year Long with Chronic Pain!

  1. Holidays are okay if I eat clean for me. But if they involve a crowd, they can do me in.

    Terri

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