Managing your visitors and Rhuematoid Arthritis
Surviving 10 days of visitors
We recently had friends from out of town come stay with us for 10 days. My husband and I took time off from work to spend it with our friends. Coupled with their stay, we hosted an anniversary party for 50 people at a hotel/restaurant. Leading up to the visit, my husband and I were busy working during the week and, on the weekends, we were either getting our house ready for the visit or going to different events. I was exhausted before the visit even took place. I was worried about how I would hold up to having to entertain for 10 days straight. Would I be able to host an event?
I did fairly well but was frequently tasked as the designated driver since I cannot have more than two glasses of wine a week. Driving in a car is sometimes a taxing thing for me to do with my RA but add the responsibility of three other people and it was not pleasant. It wore me out. Every day, it was a new trek and it seemed like every day I was tasked as driver.
One of the most frustrating things I experienced during this 10 day “vacation” was that everyone seemed to think that I was able to keep up with them. After all, I looked healthy, right? Every day, we were on the go. One afternoon, we did not have an activity plan so it was decided that we would go bowling, something we have not done in over 10 years. I agreed to go and had a great time but was exhausted by the third game. Our friends wanted another game but I had to throw in the towel. I told them when I was feeling tired but I could see the skeptical looks because I did not look tired. They weren’t tired so why was I? You can explain to people that you are tired because of the RA but they do not understand the extent of the fatigue. You do not look sick; therefore, you are not sick. Inside, however, you feel exhausted. Your joints ache. Ok, I was cranky at times. Several times I felt angry at our friends and had to do a reality check. Was I angry at them or was it the RA causing me to have less patience. The answer was a resounding, RA=less patience.
Crash and burn. On day seven I went to bed early and on day eight, I crashed and burned. I stood outside my house crying for no reason other than I was tired. I felt exhausted. No one was aware that I had crashed and burned because I did not share what I was feeling with anyone.
My meals suffered as well. The last time our friends came to visit, I gave them meals to remember us by. Well, I guess I did the same this time only the memory will not be a good one. I did not have the energy to cook so I took short cuts and it was reflected in the meals. I tried to do too much. I was expected to do too much.
I also drastically changed my routine. I had been going to the gym at least three times a week, swimming whenever I could and using our hot tub. This all stopped for 10 days. I changed my diet and ate recklessly. The change in diet and the lack of exercise contributed to my fatigue.
The day they left, I sat in a chair drained of all energy. It took three days before I was feeling back to my new normal. So, what did I learn from this experience.
Ask for help. This is extremely difficult for me to do as I have always been independent and proud. I don’t often ask for help and need to learn to do so.
Communicate, communicate and communicate. If people do not understand what you are feeling, they cannot help. I should have said that I could not drive or that I was feeling tired or that I hurt. I kept all that to myself. When I did communicate, I minimized what I was going through. I felt guilty for not feeling well.
Know your limitations. Respect your limitations. Boy, this is a hard one for me. I recognize my limitations but I do not respect them. I take advantage of my limitations and push the boundaries still believing that I can do more than I am physically able to do.
Don’t set unrealistic goals. Probably having company, hosting a party and traveling as much as we did was not realistic for me. It may have been for my husband and our friends but not for me. I did not want to burden them by suggesting that we slow down. As friends, they would have understood.
Take time to reenergize. I was so busy entertaining our friends that I was physically and mentally active every waking moment of the day. We stayed up later than normal and I got up at my normal time to prepare breakfast and straighten up the house before everyone else got up. Seems kind of silly now but at the moment it seemed important.
Recognize when to ask for help. I saw that I was on the track heading right for another train but did not do anything about it until it was too late. Listen to your body. Try to keep your routine going.