As fate would have it, I have a "special event" this month that I need to diligently plan for so I can make it through it without a flare-up disaster. Which makes this the perfect month to tackle the topic of special events for my series of Mission 2011 posts.
Defining the Term "Special Event"
Let's start with talking about what exactly I mean when I say "special event."
I guess for someone healthy, a special event might be a wedding, a party celebrating a milestone birthday or a dream vacation--something big, fun and out-of-the-ordinary. For those of us living with chronic illness, a "special event" could simply mean leaving the house! Or it could mean going to a concert, a play, visiting friends or going to a holiday dinner.
Whatever the occasion, I think you'll agree that in the grand scheme of things special events are important. Why? Because they are opportunities to create special memories and participating in them fuels our passion and creates moments of enjoyment in our lives. Sure, chronic illness makes attending these events problematic, but I don't think the solution is eliminating them all together.
My Strategies for Attending Special Events
Rather than forgo them, I find that if I employ a variety of strategies before, during and after a special event I can attend a few throughout the year. Here are some of the things that I do:
- I am choosy about the events I attend, weighing physical strain vs. pleasure gained.
- I RSVP for only a handful of events over the course of a year.
- I always leave myself the option to cancel if my health won't cooperate with my plans.
- I schedule lots of extra rest before, during and after an event.
- I know that it will take me 3 to 10 times longer to prepare for an event than I initially think it will and plan accordingly.
- I purposely cut back on appointments, driving, errands and other activities at least a week before and a week after the event.
- I employ as many energy-saving strategies as I can before and during the event, like having someone else do my hair and makeup, using a mobility scooter, asking someone else to drive or arranging for a place to lie down and rest during the event.
- I make sure I bring my flare-up medications and some snacks with me.
- I always attend with someone who understands my situation and can help me if I run into trouble.
You might be reading this and thinking 'This seems like a lot of work Selena.' I agree. But I also think that it is a tragedy to let chronic illness stop you for doing things you really want to do.
Like I said early, it's the special events in our lives that create some of our most memorable and cherished moments.
Initially, I shied away from special event because of the really big challenges they present when you live with chronic illness. In fact, the first big outing I attempted post-fibromyalgia was a huge disaster that landed my in the Emergency Room with a massive seven-day headache.
But you live and learn. In my case, I learned more about self-management strategies to cope with my fibromyalgia symptoms. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that employing these self-help techniques could help me do some pretty awesome things despite living with fibromyalgia. Not only could I get out and have some fun, I figured out how to avoid getting all flared-up in the process.
For me, the extra work in planning, pacing and resting really paid off. I've got the proof too! Next time I am going to share with you how I successfully attended a really big event, The Police Reunion Tour, back in 2007.
This Month's Goal...
Until then, start thinking about the special events you'd like to attend. You know, the ones you have been putting off or gave up on because of your chronic illness. My goal this month is to inspire you and give you the tools to create your own plan so attending a special event can be a reality for you too.