Here’s one of the most frustrating questions that IC patients often struggle with. “Should or shouldn’t we go to Grandma’s House for a holiday celebration if IC is flaring?” In my first year of IC, my family really didn’t understand what I was struggling with nor the intensity of my pain and discomfort. I freely admit that I didn’t either. All I knew was that my bladder felt like it was full of ground glass, that I needed access to a restroom and that sitting in a car hurt like heck.
I did attend many of my big family events that year, some of which required longish car rides, but it took a toll. I would arrive at my sister or brothers flaring and, frankly, traumatized by the pain of the drive. I often had to lie down, dreading the painful drive home. Simply put, I was miserable and often feeling guilty that I was bringing a family celebration “down.”
And then came one holiday morning. We were celebrating at my sisters house twenty miles away. I couldn’t fathom getting in the car to go because I was flaring, badly! I needed to stay home and that’s exactly what I chose to do. My mother, of course, tried several times to get me to change my mind. She has “family guilt” down to a science but, in this case, I was able to resist and it was absolutely the right thing for me to do.
So, while they drove away, I took a deep breath, shed a few tears (because, honestly, it’s hard to watch them leave without you), grabbed my heating pad, mug of hot water and laid down on the couch and watched a long movie. Rather than worsen my pain by a long drive and stressful gathering, I was able to control my pain, calm down and get some much needed cuddle time with my pets.
Was staying home the right thing to do that year? In my opinion, absolutely. There are times when you deserve to come first. Whether you’re the father, mother, grandparent or child, your health is important. There will be many more times when you will feel well enough to participate and I say “Go For It.”
But, if you’re not sure how you’ll be feeling, how about bringing the holidays to your home and asking family members to help. A potluck will allow you to prepare just one or two foods. Family members can help set up and then clean up! Perfect! If you need to, you can lie down in your own bed, retreat to your own bathroom and just “BE.”