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16 Reasons a Person With Chronic Illness May Cancel Plans

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Chronic illnesses aren’t always predictable, and sometimes that means the plans you made with friends need to be canceled. A flare-up or loss of energy can mean that movie date you planned just isn’t possible anymore, even if you really wanted to go.

People don’t always understand how an illness can make it difficult to go out and socialize, so we asked our Mighty chronic illness community to share some of the reasons why they might need to cancel plans. Of course, a person with chronic illness may cancel plans for other reasons that aren’t related to their health. But if you’re reading this because you have a friend with chronic illness, the responses below may offer some insight into how their health might affect if they can hang out like you planned. Be understanding and supportive when they can’t make it.

Here’s what the community told us:

1. “I’m feeling beyond exhausted — not the usual exhaustion, but the one that feels like you have have the flu combined with being weighted down by a ton of bricks! The thought of having to socialize when you’re tired and in severe pain makes me angry and frustrated.”

2. “I have endometriosis so I think pain is an obvious reason for canceling (for the people in my life who are aware, that is), but anxiety really is what gets the best of me. I get so worried that something will go wrong while I’m with company (heavy bleeding, immense pain that requires medical treatment, etc.). I also get anxious that I will be in too much pain to be good company, so I worry I will upset those I am supposed to be spending time with and cancel to spare them.”

3. “On weekdays I have no energy. The fatigue is brutal. Couple that with joint pain, swelling, and lack of sleep. Then pushing and pep-talking myself to get out of bed, go through my morning ritual, commute on three different freeways, work a full eight-plus hour day, drive back on three different freeways, and finally make it to my driveway — I only have energy to get out my car one time and walk into the house one time. I have nothing left. I cant bring myself to leave or get ready.”

4. “People don’t seem to understand that just because I was fine yesterday or in the morning doesn’t mean I can’t get hit with it all in a matter of seconds. I could have so much energy and go make a coffee and have a shower and then need to lay down for the rest of the day.”

5. “I might have to cancel plans because a fibro flare is in full force with no end in sight. I also would have to cancel plans due to feeling completely exhausted. Sometimes even the thought of having to get dressed to go out causes pain and exhaustion.”

6. “I often have to cancel plans due to a postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and orthostatic hypertension flare. It’s so hard to pretend you’re OK when you have a chronic illness, but it becomes impossible when your illnesses flare. It’s so embarrassing and painful to pass out/faint in general, but it’s mortifying to be in public and pass out/faint every few minutes.”

7. “I’m unable to get there. Even if I am feeling good that day, I don’t drive, I can’t handle long public transport rides, and ride shares aren’t always affordable. If the travel is going to take too much out of me, I can’t do it. Getting there is really half the battle sometimes.”

8. “I didn’t get enough hours of rest to bank. Not to mention there’s things going on for several days after and energy is obsolete. Memory is not there. And I can’t physically or emotionally keep up!”

9. “Sometimes the hardest thing is the talking. ‘So what have you been up to lately?’ And you just sit there and think about when was the last time you saw them and besides the damn illness there hasn’t been anything at all. But you’re trying and wanting to socialize so bad and you don’t want to ruin the atmosphere… I’m sick of complaining but I don’t want to lie either. And sometimes it hurts so much to hear what they have achieved while you’re struggling so much to even take a shower.”

10. “I’m too tired to be positive. There are some friends I only like to see on my good days. Also, just getting dressed, going out, sitting, and chatting can be really exhausting on bad days.”

11. “If it is someone I haven’t seen in a while, I might cancel plans with them because I’m ashamed of the way some of my medicines have changed my appearance.”

12. “I have chronic migraine. Trying to pay attention, carry on a conversation, or just interact with people is too hard and too stressful. I fake it and smile a lot already, but I’ve learned that self-care is of utmost important, especially as I get older. That means either canceling plans or simply not making them.”

13. “I get excited the days coming up to plans. And use all my energy before the day even arrives. I can never sleep the night before plans, then on the day I can’t go because I wasted all my energy.”

14. “Even though I’m not in pain at the moment, I know by pushing myself, I’ll be paying for it later (in the form of extreme pain at the end of the day).”

15. “I start to worry if my walker would alarm people since I’m still a college student. I start to worry if people will be smoking or be wearing perfume/cologne that triggers my chronic allergies. I worry if we’re going to be eating because I only trust myself to eat chicken outside of the house — but what happens when they want to go to a BBQ place? Or a place the sells mostly beef? My gastroparesis would have a fit if I indulged in that kind of food. Last but not least there’s the feeling of being left behind because I am in my walker and I’m hunched over and can’t walk fast.”

16. “Doctors’ appointments! They come before fun personal outings, and last-minute appointments or ones that run too late can make it necessary to cancel other plans! And if you had plans to do something after your appointment, the exhaustion or hard emotions of an appointment can be very overwhelming. We can only handle so much in a day and it may be time to go home and take a nap after an appointment!”

Originally published: March 17, 2017
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