I’m supposed to travel today and I really don’t want to. And I’m sad about that, because I know I should be excited. But then, I’m trying to get away from shoulds anyway….
We’ve been friends for over 20 years. At first I would visit her. Then I’d visit her and her boyfriend. Then I’d visit her and her husband (same guy.) Then I’d visit her, her husband, and their kid. I loved all of these visits. Sure, they were different. The activities were different and the atmosphere was different, but I always had fun. In the early days I’d fly to visit her. Once we both flew to a city between us, stayed in a hotel for a weekend, and had a fabulous time exploring a new city. For the last 8 years I’ve been able to drive to visit her, which is fantastic. Since I live near her parents, she stays with them when she comes to town and we get together alone or with friends or with her entire family and we always have a fantastic time. Always.
But a few years back, visiting got harder. My health got worse. I’d visit her, her husband, and their two kids, and I’d be thoroughly exhausted. Each visit got harder, just like other things in my life got harder. But still, I visited. Even though each time, I felt the energy draining out of me.
Then I stopped visiting for a long time. I didn’t want to stop, but I just couldn’t manage it anymore. It was around the time I stopped working. In fact, my visit to her house was the last trip I made before I left my job. We went apple picking and had a great time and by the time I got home, I was a mess.
Now I try visiting once or twice a year. Last summer I visited her and her youngest, while her husband was out of town with the two older kids. That was tiring, but not too bad. It was summer, and I feel worse in the summer, so there was that. And now it’s winter, and I feel better in winter, and I’ve got my new sleep machine helping me. But the idea of 3 days with her, her husband, and their 3 kids, is just exhausting to consider, never mind actually doing it.
I don’t want to go. I want to stay home. But I want to see my friend. I wish I could visit for a day, but it too far of a drive. I wish I could stay in a hotel where it would be easier to rest, but that’s not in my budget. I wish I was health, but that’s just not my reality.
She’s told me several times that the kids are really excited to see me. She’s asked what I’d like to eat while I visit. She’s a great cook, and does a wonderful job of making gluten-free foods that I can eat (while also avoiding all of my other trigger foods.) We’ve decided that I will go out with her and the kids either in the morning or in the afternoon each day, but not both. We’ve learned that I can’t handle both. We have it all planned out. But I’m still nervous.
I tried asking myself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Well, that’s a bad question to ask. I know what could happen. I remember when I visited last winter and I was so sick that first night. Like, the maybe-it-would-be-easier-if-I’d-just-die kind of sick. It was horrible. I’ve felt that way before, but dealing with it in someone else’s home was so much worse. Of course, that’s not the worst, but it’s the most likely. And I can’t stand the thought of it.
It’s almost noon and I’m still in my pajamas. I need to shower, get dressed, eat lunch, pack up my bag, then drive. That will use up most of my energy for the day. And then there’s dinner with the family and 3 kids all wanting my attention at once because I haven’t seen them in months.
I love them. I really do. And I’d love to see them. But I don’t want to go.
Does this sound familiar to you? Please share your experiences with this kind of thing.
P.S. Yes, I have the option of not going. But I want to see my friend and her family. So I’ll go. But I’ve promised myself that if it’s too much, I’ll leave a day or two early. I just hope tonight is ok….
Is your friend is aware of your limitations? Could you maybe work something out ahead of time so that you get a certain portion of each day just to hide in the guest room and rest? Or, if your friend has any money, could she maybe arrange for an economy motel room for you to relieve some of the stress? I’m sure she’d want to see you on whatever basis works best for you.
I understand not wanting to travel when you’re not 100%. I recently turned down an invitation to attend a special showing at the local art museum simply because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my healthier, more athletic co-worker. I didn’t actually give her a reason for declining, and I’m afraid she probably thinks I was just blowing her off. Now I’m feeling a little uncomfortable when I run into her at the office.
Long-term illnesses totally suck.
That’s rough, CM. Maybe you could invite your co-worker out to lunch some time, to show you still want to be friends. Or at least ask how it was and say how bummed you were to miss it and that you hope you can make it next time. So at least she’d know you cared. I hope you can go another time. Maybe to a concert where you can sit 🙂
You’re sweet. My co-worker and I have been friends for a long time, and I think she probably figured it out without me telling her. The art show is still running until the end of the month – who knows, I may feel energetic to go anyway. I just take it day by day.
I hope you can see it while it’s running. As for your friend, hopefully at some point you can explain it to her 🙂
Good luck! I can understand the conflicting feelings. Because our illnesses are so long term I personally make the decision that it’s still important to maintain my relationships. Like you though I do need to consider the impact the outings may have on my health.
I think your idea of playing it by ear and leaving early if you need to is great and also attempting to pace while you are there.
Yeah, going someplace by car gives a lot more flexibility than flying. And I agree, I’ll always be ill, so I might as well do these things whenever I feel a bit less ill.
Not chickening out is one of the most difficult things us spoonies have to cope with and I find that I fail and chicken out far too much, partly because I don’t want to spoil other peoples fun and partly because I am scared of triggering a severe flare up, I wish there was an answer and that you manage to pace well enough during your visit !
Thanks seachy! I still have issues where I feel like I’m being a spoil-sport by skipping something while I’m visiting, but I think they all (the adults, anyway) understand why. And we try to explain to the kids that if I skip X now, I can do Y later. That helps a lot.
It’s never easy is it, Spoon theory massively helped me to explain to friends and family, especially the children around 6-10 years good luck x
Yes, I find that metaphors are very helpful in explaining it to people. And I’m hoping that projects like this will help: https://chronicrants.com/2014/07/10/what-would-you-say-is-real-about-chronic-illness/
Maybe bookmark a few blog posts that resonate and share those occasionally, too. Sometimes hearing about these things from multiple people helps others to understand better. Spoon theory is a good one 🙂
Here’s a quick update: The first two days went really well and I had a fantastic time! I paced myself (though probably not as much as I should have) and we had a lot of fun together. Then one afternoon I felt oddly fatigued. I even dozed off – not like me at all. Then my throat was burning. Classic symptoms for me that my immune system was unhappy, and that if I didn’t take care of myself I’d get sick. I explained to my friends, packed up my bags, said goodbye to the kids, and drove home. I figured the drive would use less energy than staying, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be up to driving the next day. Besides, why stay when I already had laryngitis.
I rested the next day, but I still got a cold. It turns out, one of the kids was tired and had a sore throat not long after I left. She was better in a day and a half. But she doesn’t have chronic illness. Now it’s 4 days later and I’m finally starting to feel better, even though I still don’t have much of a voice and my cough is terrible.
But I’m still really glad that I went! We had fun, and I know that if I’m not fighting a cold, I should be able to manage a 3 day visit. So we’re going to plan on another one really soon!
So glad to hear you were able to enjoy the first couple days 🙂 Nothing like making those memories and having a great time with an old friend, especially one that is understanding of your needs too.
That is so true Ms. Mango. Old friends are especially special.