Living with a chronic illness is hard all year round. During the holiday season it causes unique extra challenges. I knew nothing about this before I became chronically ill myself. I have had many years now living with ME/CFS, some holiday seasons moderately affected and some ruined.
ME stands for myalgic encephalomyelitis. CFS stands for the ludicrous name of chronic fatigue syndrome. But that's another story.
Chances are someone you love is saddled with a chronic illness. There are lots of these illnesses. Arthritis, Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis, many cancers, fibromyalgia, diabetes, IBS, celiac disease, heart conditions, lupus, neurological disorders, are just a few.
Many of these are invisible illnesses, that is, the person may look fine. They may look downright great. But the person who is chronically ill deals with many struggles in ways you may not be able to imagine. Sometimes a lack of energy can be like a lead balloon that hampers everything you can think of, and plenty that never occurred to you.
Would this person you care for like to do some gift shopping? Maybe. But maybe they can't manage the crowds, stores and lists on their own. Or maybe they can't make it out of the house — possibly out of their beds — at all.
Pain can leave a nasty boot print on all activities.
Does the person you care about need help with buttons or tying their shoes? If you can offer before they have to ask, or before they struggle through the ordeal, life is easier.
Does it hurt them to open a car door? Get to that door first, and open the way.
Try to think ahead and be prepared to bridge the gap to protect their fragility. And always feel free to ask if something is hard for them, your concern will be appreciated.
For some, mental fog, which makes it difficult to think or remember things, is a crippling symptom. Some may find it hard at times to talk, or to understand what is being said.
If you can do the talking and take charge at the store counter, you could make the difference between them being able to go out or not.