What Goes Through My Head During a 'Night Out' With a Crohn's Flare
Saturday night my husband Richard and I got all dressed up and went to dinner for his office Christmas party. This got me thinking about how I, a person battling an active Crohn’s disease flare up, handles attending events. Normally, I would be excited and eager to get out of the house and spend time alone with Richard. Last year we attended many work-related Christmas parties together and I loved meeting new people and visiting new places. This year, however, there are other things going through my head besides who’s going to watch the kids.
- Where are we going?
- What food is being served?
- Will I be able to eat it?
- Should I eat before we go so I’m not starving?
- I hope we sit near the bathrooms.
- What am I going to wear – nothing in my closet fits!
- Where am I going to find an XXS or 00 outfit?
- How long will the night be? Will I make it to 11 p.m.?
- I hope I sit with people I know.
The list goes on and on!
You have to understand, as much I want to be around family and friends during the holidays, it’s completely draining! Mentally, physically and emotionally.
Let me explain.
Mentally, my mind doesn’t stop prior to the event. All those questions run through my mind for days. As well, it’s mentally exhausting keeping up with conversations and stories when my mind isn’t as sharp as it used to be.
Physically, it takes me hours to get ready — and I don’t say that lightly or as a vanity issue. It’s physically exhausting for me to take a shower, dry my hair, get dressed and then to do my hair and my makeup. My body requires me to take several breaks between sessions. I need to sit, relax, perhaps have a small bite to eat. For this particular event, I took a shower in the morning. I did my makeup at 1:30 p.m., fixed my hair at 5 p.m. and got dressed at 6 p.m., for a 7:30 p.m. event.
Emotionally, it’s draining because there are times I am so tired, I struggle to talk to people. I have a hard time starting the conversation and maintaining it. I want to be social, I want to meet new people, but it’s tiring. I sometimes feel I need to put on a show, put on a smile and pretend to be happy, when really, I’m counting down the minutes to when I can get back in bed.
Perhaps this sounds harsh. I don’t mean to offend anyone or make it seem like I don’t want to be around you. I love seeing my friends and family and spending time with them and I am looking forward to the next three weeks of parties and gatherings.
If I’m quiet, not engaged in conversation, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to be there, just means I’m slowly coming down from the excitement of the night.
If I ask you to repeat your story a few times, or clear it up for me, it’s not because I’m not paying attention, it’s because my mind can’t keep up.
If I start laying down on the couch, it’s not because I’m bored, my body just needs to rest.
If I’m not eating your delicious looking meal or dessert, please don’t be offended, I just know there are trigger foods in there that I can’t eat.
If I’ve disappeared for too long, or several times throughout the evening, it’s not because I’m avoiding you, or conversation or I’m bored… I’m probably in the bathroom.
If I leave early, don’t be offended, I’ve just reached the point where my body says, time to go.
One night out for most can be as easy as,
- “Who will watch the kids?”
- “What am I going to wear?”
- “How are we getting there?”
But as you can see, for me, it means a lot more than that.
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