To Go or Not to Go, That Is the Question!
We’ve all been there. Our friends have invited us to meet them somewhere. We’re excited at first, then the hour comes. How do we decide whether it’s worth it to go? Do we have enough energy, is the pain manageable, and how will we feel tomorrow? Has the fatigue monster chewed up all my energy? Is it worth the energy expenditure? Will I be depressed if I don't go? Will I miss work tomorrow if I go tonight? Will I be able to be pleasant if the pain kicks in? What do I say when my friends ask how I am? Why do I have to think so hard about this?
Adapting to the many changes RA brings to our bodies seems to be a daily event for me. To be quite honest, I'm tired of having to be adaptable! I would like to get through one whole day where my body would behave itself. Then reality hits. My body is most likely NOT going to behave. So how do I proceed?
RA impacts my social life
Do you ever feel this way? I do, all the time. One of the most frustrating issues with RA is the unpredictability. Will I feel okay on that day? What will my friends think if I cancel? I end up weighing the benefits vs the aftermath. We are all familiar with the aftermath: sleeping 14 hours, severe pain, getting up to take pain pills and going back to bed. None of us want the aftermath, so deciding becomes critically important. How do you decide?
Pro and con lists help me decide when to be social
I am a big fan of pros and cons lists. They help me determine what’s most important. I used one yesterday and it looked a little like this:
- I’ll see friends I haven’t seen in 3 years
- It’s good for me to get out
- It’s at 3 PM, not 8 PM
- I’m off tomorrow
- I have to drive, park & walk downtown
- Can I manage my pain?
- It’s in the heat of the day
- I might have a lousy day off
So, what did I decide? Seeing friends I hadn’t seen in 3 years seemed most important. The best part? Parking was free and right in front of the venue! I enjoyed myself and was still home by 7 pm. I had a wonderful time.
Making these lists also help me listen to my body
I also have an example of a time where the cons won out:
- I enjoy my women's group
- I need to get out today
- Can I handle the noise?
- I hurt all over from the church lunch I did
- I'll have to sit on a barstool
I did not go. I went home to bed and slept for 3 hours. It was definitely the right decision.
Having other social outlets
I find that by using my list, I’m able to recognize how many times I still get to go out. I choose to focus on those times. It helps me to see that RA has not won! When I can’t go out, I reach out to my friends here on RA.net and always come away with a smile.
How do you make decisions like this? Please share with all of us!
Do you find the pain scale is an effective tool?