Friday, March 7, 2014

Lupus Recovery Mode: The value of doing nothing

In my book, Despite Lupus, there's a section about learning to compromise, a must when it comes to living well with lupus, in my opinion. Specifically, I talk about the ability to indulge every once in awhile in an activity that might be a little outside of your normal "lupus" routine, as long as you're willing to put in the extra downtime to allow yourself to recover. We're not talking about anything that would be dangerous to your health, or one that puts you at risk. Rather, we're talking about deliberately choosing to do something that might be a teeny bit taxing, but puts a smile on your face. Here's the excerpt:

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Indulge, but wisely

A friend of mine was struggling with the sacrifices that lupus was forcing her to make, like reducing her sun exposure and restricting her activity level. She had a chance meeting with another woman who had grappled with the same things, but who had come to the following conclusion: indulging every once in awhile in an activity that is deemed “off limits” is okay if you allow yourself ample time before and after to recover. This woman happened to be an avid tennis player and it was causing her more stress and anxiety to miss out on a match than to deal with the effects of playing one. Given that her body was more fragile and prone to exhaustion with lupus, she realized that if she took it easy the day before and after she played, she could enjoy her pastime and not put her health at risk. As long as you’re willing to compromise, you can enjoy doing just about anything.
Keep in mind that a compromise like this one should be viewed as an indulgence, not an invitation to develop a routine. Don’t let the thrill of the experience convince you otherwise. Just like eating a cookie on a diet, it’s not the one cookie that does you in. It’s getting a taste for it and wanting a second, if not a third. 

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Along these lines, I decided to indulge this past weekend, by throwing a dinner party. We haven't had friends over for dinner in a long time, for obvious "flare" reasons, but I decided I was up for trying. I promised Johnny (and a few of my guests) that we'd order take out or cancel if I needed to at the last minute. But I ended up feeling fabulous leading up to the big night, and the evening went off without a hitch. It was relatively stress-free - the house cleaners had come the day before, I'd casually prepped the sides and dessert during the week, and Johnny took care of making the main dishes. We all had a fabulous time.

But, as expected, the extra hours on my feet, and even the minimal amount of prepping, serving and "hosting" took its toll. By the end of the relatively early evening, my knees were swelling by the minute. I felt fabulous, but my knees and ankles said otherwise. We said our goodbyes, and even though we had a mountain of dishes to tend to, I went straight up to bed. I even coerced Johnny to come up and lay next to me so I wouldn't feel like I was missing out on our typical chit chat as we tidied up after a party. The next morning, my knees were better, but I felt the effects of a long, yet fun evening. So I took it easy. All. Day. Long. I stayed in my pajamas, drank plenty of tea, and did a lot of lounging. Johnny, superstar husband that he is, cleaned up every last pan, filled and ran the dishwasher twice, and left the whole place looking good as new. All the while, I leisurely read books to the girls, sipped hot beverages, and allowed my body to recover the way it needed to.

When I woke up on Monday morning, feeling fabulous, without a shred of symptom activity, I turned to Johnny and declared the weekend a success, due in part to all of his help and assistance. In fact, I asked him if he thought it was fair that I'd scheduled the get together, asked people over to the house, just to have him end up cooking and cleaning and running the whole thing. He said he had a swell time - and that he would do it again in a heartbeat.

We'll wait a few heartbeats, of course. After all, it was an indulgence, not an invitation to go crazy!

4 comments:

Jen Sharp Gorman said...

catching up - I LOVE this post! so happy you had a wonderful night - and love that sweet hubby of yours! xoxo

Cass said...

I am in recovery mode right now after a nasty flare up....This post is so helpful so thank you for that :) Check back soon :)

Aymie said...

This really made me smile. I'm in a crazy hard week of uni with all of my assignments due, an exam and two presentations, and you've reminded me of the importance of those resting days and early nights during the madness.

And I'm really looking forward to a nice, quiet weekend curled up on the sofa with the fiancé.

Sara Gorman said...

Thanks, ladies, for the comments! Glad you guys know what I mean - we should savor the downtime while we're willing to take it!