Holidays and RSD
Although my children are grown now; I have had RSD for more than half of their lives. There is a lot of guilt that goes along with having young children when you are a mom with RSD. You try your best to push yourself to your limits to do your best to give them as “normal” of a childhood as you can.
This of course carries over to the holidays. Even when your children are grown, you want to continue the traditions that they grew up with during the holidays. Now that my youngest daughter is married; we split the holidays. They go to my son in laws family for Thanksgiving one year and Christmas to us. The following year it is reversed. This was our year for Christmas. I did as much preparation in advance as possible but there is always cooking that has to be done on the holiday. To top it off, I have bronchitis and have been sick for four weeks so I was run down.
We went out to dinner on the 22nd when my mom arrived. On the 23rd, I took my mom, step father, daughter, and son in law to EPCOT’s Candlelight Processional. This has been a tradition with my mom, step father and daughter but it was the first time for my son in law. My mom had a cancerous growth removed from her leg and was unable to do long distance walking, so that she wouldn’t miss out, she used my wheelchair. This meant that I walked throughout EPCOT. I never walk in the amusement parks and have not done so for the past 15 years. My daughter is blind and needs someone to guide her. It is too crowded during Christmastime to take her guide dog (besides it was 85 degrees and her dog is black and not used to this heat). My son in law Bennett pushed the wheelchair while I guided my daughter Kim (my step father has COPD). So I started out the weekend by stressing out my foot with all of the walking.
The candlelight processional was beautiful as always and everyone enjoyed it along with the Japanese dinner that we had before hand. Kim wanted a Mickey Mouse ice cream afterwards just like when she was a kid. We had a great evening. When we got home I went straight to bed to elevate my foot.
Christmas Eve I made crockpot chili for lunch which could be prepared early in the morning (which is my best time of day) and a cold shrimp dish for dinner that also had to be prepared in the morning and marinade all day. What surprised me was that all of them required a lot of chopping which had never been an issue for me. We have high bar stools in the kitchen so that I don’t have to stand when chopping but the repetitive motion of the chopping really aggravated my newly diagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome and my hand swelled up like a balloon. I had to stop frequently to rest my hand. Unfortunately I am definitely right handed so I could not switch off. This was pretty devastating to me as for the past 15 years I have relied heavily on my upper body to compensate for the RSD in my lower body and the weakness that the multiple fractures in my right foot have caused. Until now the full body RSD has only caused burning pain, GI issues, migraines, a neurogenic bladder, and neck issues but I always had good function of my hands. I did crafts to pass the time and relied on my upper body strength to compensate for balance issues and lack of strength in my lower body. Now things have changed.
By the end of the day Christmas Eve my right foot and right hand were both quite swollen and shiny. It goes without saying that my pain levels were quite high but everyone enjoyed their meals, the baked goods and were enjoying Kim’s favorite Christmas Eve tradition; the watching of “White Christmas”. Bennett wanted to watch the original “Miracle on 34th Street” as he had never seen it. After that, I headed off to bed but could not sleep. Rather than keep my husband up, I went to my den and laid on my sofa and laid on the sofa and watched videos until everyone got up Christmas morning.
Christmas Day was wonderful. I made Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns (I had made them previously and froze them so I just had to pop them into the oven and bake them) for breakfast. We opened gifts; all of which were wonderful. I made all of Kim’s favorite traditional Christmas lunch dishes. It was warm enough to eat outside on the patio. I spent the afternoon in the kitchen cooking (on my feet of course) the dinner that I made every year when Kim was growing up (by the way Kim does have a sister who lives in CA but she couldn’t come home and she isn’t the one who is the traditionalist; Kim is). As I was cooking, we all decided that this would be the last year that we would have the holidays here. Next year, when it will be our year for Thanksgiving, we will travel up north and Kim and Bennett will cook the meal. Although it saddens me that I will no longer be the one making the meals; I know that my body can’t do this again. By the end of the meal my foot looked like a shinny balloon. My son in law (who loves to cook) did all of the peeling and chopping for me for Christmas dinner (normally I don’t let anyone help in the kitchen but I knew that I couldn’t do it). Right after dinner, my husband cleared the table and did the dishes while I went to bed to put my foot up. Although I didn’t fall asleep because I was in too much pain; I needed to be in a dark room alone for a while. I have a hospital type adjustable bed so that I can elevate the foot of the bed to help with swelling.
Now I know better than this after 15 years. I know how to pace myself. I know that if I am on my feet and do all of this cooking that this will happen and I will end up in this type of shape. When we lived in the house that the kids grew up in in Pennsylvania where everyone knows where things are, the kitchen was large, etc. I was more comfortable having people helping. When my mother in law was alive (she lived with us) I was more comfortable with her helping in the kitchen because when I wasn’t feeling well, she did some of the cooking (except for holidays) but because my mom has vision problems and is not steady on her feet, my husband can’t cook (but does all of the clean up in the kitchen), and my daughter is blind and hates to cook; I feel like I should be the one to prepare the holiday meal because I have always done so.
It’s funny because we know better. I know better. Sometimes we push ourselves beyond our capabilities for whatever reason and we pay for it afterwards. The holidays, at least for me, are one of those reasons. I guess this is the last year as next year the younger generation is taking over. I know that it will be very difficult for me to sit by and keep my mouth shut as they do things their way. I know that my mom and mother in law DID NOT sit there quietly and keep their mouths shut when I cooked my first holiday meal….but then again; I have done a lot of things differently with my girls than they did with us. Unless asked, I will keep my mouth shut and let them start their own traditions.
I know that my body is ready for this change over and has been ready for this change over for many years due to the RSD. If it weren’t for the RSD I would be too young to pass on the torch; but there have been a lot of things that have happened to me too soon because of RSD. Just as it was an adjustment when my “baby girl” got married, it will be an adjustment when they take over the holiday preparation. I know that I will enjoy it more when I am in less pain than I am in today. I will be a more pleasant person when I am in less pain. I will be able to spend more time with them when I am in less pain.
We don’t always learn from experience when it comes to RSD, do we?