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Valentine’s Day: Chronic Illness Edition

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Image-Valentine’s Day: Chronic Illness Edition. Below title is a large red heart with various pills inside of it.

I’m going to be honest with you here… I have never liked Valentine’s Day. I think it’s a contrived holiday that was made up by the greeting card companies and blah blah blah… you know the spiel by now. But last year was the first Valentine’s Day I’ve ever celebrated that made me somewhat rethink my stance.

Aaron, my boyfriend, and I had been dating officially for one month on Valentine’s Day…no pressure there lol. And unofficially dating for about two months. What he planned for me was so amazing that I can’t not tell the story. I’ll try to keep it short.

He planned a surprise…he likes doing that. So he picked me up and took me to his place, in Washington DC, where he cooked me an awesome dinner of spaghetti and homemade meatballs. But maybe it was too much excitement, but I got a migraine and felt terribly ill. I could barely eat, and we were supposed to leave to go on a weekend trip to a surprise location. He told me to rest, and if I wasn’t feeling well enough, then that was okay. I was not about to let this surprise get laid to waste. So around 8 pm which was much later than anticipated, we headed out to our destination about an hour away in Baltimore, MD.

We arrived at the Four Seasons Hotel. Swanky. When we got out of the car, we gave my bags to the doorman, and I immediately noted that he didn’t have bags. I realized he was already here earlier in the day. Which is crazy, because I live directly in the middle of Washington DC and Baltimore. So he drove to Baltimore to set things up, came to pick me up, took me to his apartment in DC and cooked for me and then we drove to Baltimore.

We get upstairs to the room, and he tells me to wait outside for a couple minutes. I wait for the longest couple minutes ever. Finally, he opened the door, and I walked into this…

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Image- picture of darkened room. Tea lights lit up and in the shape of a heart on the bed.

It was one of the most overwhelmingly emotional moments of my life. There were tea lights everywhere. It was so thoughtful and amazing that I was left speechless. 

He thought of everything down to the smallest details. I love the colors pink and silver. So the (fake) rose petals were pink and silver. And he found this adorable stuffed unicorn who was pink and silver. I later named her Doris. The shirt lying on the bed says Always be yourself unless you can be a unicorn then be a unicorn instead.

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Image- large white bed with two pillows at the head of bed. pink and silver rose petals scattered all over the bed. Eighteen tea lights lit up and in the shape of a heart. At the head of the bed is a t-shirt, writing is obscured and a small stuffed pink and silver unicorn sitting on top of it.

The next day he planned fo us to go get a couple’s massage. Unfortunately, an unforeseen thing happened when the second we walked into the massage parlor and I was immediately assaulted with the scents of numerous candles. It was an instantaneous migraine. Who could have predicted that? But It was a really thought gift anyways. I don’t remember last years Valentine’s day by the migraine I had, I remember the feeling of walking into the room and being completely and utterly overwhelmed and amazed by the effort he went through to make this such a special occasion. 

But that was then…this is now. How can this Valentine’s day ever compete or compare to that? The simple answer is…it can’t and it shouldn’t. 

I can’t always look to the past as an example of how the present should be even though it’s easy for me to remember the Rachel I used to be and think if only I was that Rachel still. No matter what happens, that Rachel as I knew her…is gone. I am forever changed by my chronic illnesses. 

Which brings us to present day- Today I went to physical therapy, it was excruciating and brutally painful in ways that a person who doesn’t go to physical therapy for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction can’t possibly understand. And my lower back is just in knots from stress, and my physical therapist was working on some trigger points to help with my lower back pain and now my back is spasming out in a way that is just too painful to describe at this time. 

Chronic illness change lives. It makes us feel like we are out of control. We survived the holidays and now it’s Valentine’s day. And maybe many of you don’t particularly care or maybe you are like me and were made to care by your loved one who showed how special it can be. But when chronically ill it’s all too easy to feel inadequate. 

You go out to eat a nice restaurant… no wait can’t do that because of the restricted diet your chronic illness has you on. You enjoy chocolates and candies that your loved one gave you… no wait can’t eat chocolate and candies either. Okay well, you appreciate the beautiful flowers they sent you at work… but wait…flowers cause a severe migraine and you quit your job because of your health. But certainly, they can light some candles and give you a nice massage with essential oils…no wait…migraines again. How about enjoying a little intimate time with your sweetie… oh you’re still in excruciating pain from your insert chronic illness and physical therapy… right. 

Okay, so what the hell can we do?? Isn’t that how it feels? When the world is seemingly buying chocolates, candies, candles and other stuff that we can only dream about; how can we ever hope to enjoy Valentine’s day again?

Well maybe you can’t subscribe to a classic Valentine’s day anymore, but you can certainly customize it for yourself and your loved one. All you need is a bit of creativity and thinking outside of that darn box that we have been stuck in for so long. 

So…Valentine’s day is tomorrow, but I’m sick still, my bronchitis is still holding on to my poor aching lungs for dear life, while my bladder, pelvic floor, and lower back hurt in some incredibly agonizing ways.

But Aaron and I already discussed and planned for a low key Valentine’s day; there will be no fancy hotel and massage this time around. But there will be Keto IC friendly pancakes, a blanket/pillow fort that we can cuddle up in, some romantic comedy classics and some other stuff which I can’t say because it will ruin the surprise. 

So is this the Valentine’s day of my dreams? Probably not. But I’m still pretty excited for what Aaron and I have come up with together…and that is all that matters. 

And if you are alone on Valentine’s day, show yourself some self-love by doing something nice for yourself…a nice Epsom bath or buy yourself something you love to (and can) eat. Just remember to be kind to yourself. 

 

 

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