How to Plan a Birthday Party When You Have a Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak


Day after day and week after week of chronic pain can wear a person down and make even the most normal day difficult. And having a birthday after weeks, months or years of debilitating pain can be even more difficult.

During any stage of a chronic illness, the more I feel I’m in control of my own care, the better things go. If I’m informing myself alongside my doctors, I feel I can keep up with the plans and have a say in how I wish to be taken care of. Reaching out to other doctors, asking for a second opinion if necessary and going back to conversations as we learn more are ways for me to feel as though I have some say in the outcome.

Planning a birthday when you have a cerebrospinal fluid leak (CSF) or chronic pain can be a similar situation:

1. It’s your day.

Plan the birthday you want to have, so you aren’t disappointed

2. Pick two dates.

Tell people you’ll have your birthday celebration on a set date as long as you’re feeling up to it and pick an alternate date that all parties can attend in case the first date ends up being an “off day” for you.

3. Know your limits.

Limit the number of people at your celebration to make it easier on yourself for preparation and for postponing if needed.

4. Keep it simple.

Order in food from a favorite restaurant, bring in pre-made dishes from your local supermarket and ask others to bring specific dishes.

5. Plan for people to stay a short time.

A great birthday where you feel your best for two hours is much better than having a few people stay for a long time where you may get tired out for days to come.

6. Timing.

Have the party at your best time of the day. With CSF leaks, we are often plagued by symptoms later in the day. A birthday brunch or lunch may be better than planning an event at night when you’re already tired.

7. Delegate.

People just love to help if you let them. Tell others how you want the house set up, how the kitchen will work and how you will serve drinks.

8. Skip it.

It’s important for you to know if you just want to skip your birthday this year. Maybe you just feel you don’t want to celebrate. Feel free to make that decision for yourself, and your family and friends will have to respect your wishes no matter what they are.

A birthday is a special day for many, and it can feel like you’re being forgotten on your birthday as the days just melt into months. Having a day that marks another year has elapsed can be challenging for many with a chronic illness such as a CSF leak. Sometimes marking the day just emphasizes that things are still not “normal.”

Whatever your circumstances, you can be the decision maker for this birthday!

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Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

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