Why My Health Makes Me a Nervous Wreck During the Holidays
It is the most wonderful time of the year: the holidays! Shopping for thoughtful gifts for your friends and loved ones. Traveling home. Creating and enjoying home cooked meals made with love. Spending time with those you love. The holidays are truly full of joy… if you are not struggling with an illness.
For me, and many others who surf The Mighty, the holidays are full of struggle, pain, and tears. I have eosinophilic granulamatosis with polyangitis vasculitis/Churg-Strauss syndrome, an autoimmune disease that targets the small blood vessels and the organs they supply blood to by causing inflammation. I could go on and on about the daily struggles I have, but that does not compare to the absolute nervous wreck I become about the holidays.
It has nothing to do with what I am going to get my family or spending time with them, it is the literal process that terrifies me. I may seem over dramatic about this, but anyone with an illness knows this time of the year is full of absolute battles with our bodies and our minds.
First, there’s the shopping. Nowadays we have the option to shop on the internet, which does make it easier for not having to struggle to find parking and stand in unbearable lines. But ordering from the internet means either trying to find the strength to answer the door when the package arrives or pray they left them at the door, that they were not stolen, and hope that you are strong enough to bend down to pick them up. Luckily, I do live in a complex so they deliver them straight to the office, but then comes the embarrassing part of driving to the other side of the building to pick them up and hope I can carry them from the car to the apartment.
Then, there is the travel. No matter how you travel, it is a struggle for all of us. The traffic, the long lines at TSA, the cancellations or delays due to weather. I live out of state, so when I go home, it is embarrassing. My strength to stand through lines is not what it used to be, so when I do anticipate periods of walking or standing, I bring my walker that has a built in seat so when the lines are long or I need to just take a moment to sit, I can. I place all of my pill bottles in a freezer sized bag in my carry-on so I have easy access, plus it makes it easier for TSA so that they hopefully do not have to search my bag. Luckily, Oklahoma City has a small airport, but I fly home to Chicago where I have to walk probably about a mile after I get off the plane.
I will say, the walker does give me one perk when I fly: I get to board first. I do not have to feel embarrassed about it taking me awhile because it is only people with disabilities boarding when I get on. We all take awhile to get settled. I fly Southwest as well, which is full of kind employees who assist me with getting on and putting my carry-on in the compartment above my seat.
Making the dinners and lunches for the holidays are difficult for anyone, but imagine being unable to stand very long because it will hurt or being unable to carry more than one or two bags from the store at a time. It is not only the physical part of this that is difficult, it is also the emotional part. It is embarrassing to admit, but I pretty much cry every time I cook. It is partly because of the pain, but mostly because I used to do this with ease and enjoy it. I loved cooking, especially holiday meals. Now, opening the refrigerator or bending down to pull something out of the oven is an extreme chore. It just absolutely sucks.
I am not going to lie, spending time with family is not difficult for me when it comes down to the holidays, but for a lot of people, it is. Whether it is because of lives lost or just the emotions of seeing family, or being unable to celebrate with family, some people dread the holiday season.
So bottom line, when you are in pain, the holidays are difficult. We all have our ways to deal with these issues, and while we always ask for others to accept and try to understand them, we need to do these in order to be part of the holidays and celebrate the good things we are blessed to have. So before you begin to cry because trying to open up a can of cranberry sauce is becoming a true battle, take a moment to breathe, smile, and remember what you are blessed to experience in this world.
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