Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Paving the way for a good spa experience - lupus in tow.

Setting myself up to succeed - what a valuable tool for making life with lupus easier! Over the years, I've been amazed at how many opportunities I have as a patient to make my life a little more bearable and a lot more enjoyable. Maybe it's prepping for a conversation with the doctor, so that my appointments are more effective. Perhaps it's managing someone else's expectations in order to avoid disappointment (mine and theirs) before it occurs. Or maybe it's making a good lifestyle choice that literally diminishes the chances of a flare. Whatever the instance, I like to think that I can obtain more of the results I want, and less of the baggage I can do without, simply with a little planning and forethought.

I wrote about an instance where I unfortunately failed to do this very thing back in March. That particular situation involved a visit to the spa, when I hesitated to discuss, in detail, the ins and outs of my disease before my treatment provider began the service. It wasn't an all-around bad experience, but it could have been better. I could have warned her of the sensitive areas to avoid, thus eliminating swollen joints, glands and lips. If I'd spoken up, I imagine my post-treatment experience would have been completely symptom-free. As it was, I spent the evening nursing my joints, icing my angioedema lip and swollen glands, and hoping the effects would wear off by the next day. But I learned from that experience, and most importantly, applied what I learned the next time I had the opportunity to change the outcome. That chance came earlier this summer. And boy, did it turn out well.

My second trip to the spa in June was glorious. I was feeling good, as my body was healing from the flare, and responding well to Cellcept. But I knew it was important not to push my body beyond its limits. It was even more important that I set myself up to succeed. I needed to put a little thought into the service I was going to choose, the details I was going to mention to the treatment provider, and the areas that should be avoided. If I’m not going to step up and protect myself from lurking lupus activity, who will?

So here are the three things I did:

1) I decided that instead of an all-over body treatment, I'd opt for a facial. As good as my joints were feeling, and as unswollen as my lymph nodes had been, I just didn't want to aggravate either by having someone massage my body. So a facial was booked.

2) I took PLENTY of time and used considerable detail when I described my disease to my treatment provider. I knew a facial would still include a neck, hand, and foot massage, so I told her about my sensitive finger that was swollen earlier that day, and the swollen glands behind my neck, pointing out everything so that she could see and feel the areas to avoid. We agreed that she wouldn't even use gentle massage on those parts - better to just avoid them altogether.

3) I also decided to pass on the head massage - which is usually my favorite part of any spa service. Why? Because of my hair loss. The last thing I wanted to do was to spend the majority of my treatment worrying about how much hair would fall out, how she would react, how I would explain it, or how deflated I would feel, knowing that I had that much less hair on my head. So I told her to skip it - and it was the best decision I made. I didn't miss it at all, because I was too busy relaxing during the rest of the treatment to think about it.

I truly set myself up to have the best experience possible - and it worked! 

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