The Extreme IBD Fatigue That Comes With a Holiday Hangover
Oh, the joy of the festive season! Honestly, I do love it, but at the same time, wow... This year truly wore me out!
Usually limiting activity to manage fatigue
Generally speaking, I try not to plan more than 2 things in a week, and I don’t plan things on consecutive days. This helps me manage my IBD fatigue and the pain I experience due to secondary fibromyalgia. However, December was full to the brim with things to do, people to see, and presents to distribute.
Facing the holidays with IBD
But the hustle and bustle of the festive season exhausted me.
I went to a Christmas market on the 1st of December, and another on the 2nd. On the 3rd, I put my Christmas decorations up. That resulted in me feeling shattered and being in a lot of pain. The following work week was tough, and my body was annoyed with me.
Plus holiday travel
But that was only the beginning. Next, we'd be travelling to our friends' for our "IBD family" pre-Christmas Christmas. I didn't want the irritability that comes along with the additional pain to spoil our time there. We came home early because I knew I needed to get some rest in readiness for the work week ahead.
Managing my stoma and my sleep
And on went the holiday season, like going out for dancing and drinks one night. For the first time in 5 YEARS! I planned ahead and had a restful day. My stoma was basically inactive the whole time I was out, which really surprised me. I drank a rehydration solution when I got in and went straight to sleep.
Again, exhaustion followed the next day. I have a sleep/wake schedule that I always stick to, and I think being out of that sleep routine messed with my body clock.
But more holiday activities went on! Shopping, presents, food...
Weight gain around the holidays
By the 23rd, I had a bag leak, and it became apparent that my weight gain was the problem. Fancy realising that on December 23rd!
On the 24th, my mum came over for cheese, mulled wine, and present swapping. Christmas day was spent with my family, and we swapped gifts, had dinner, and went for a walk. On the 26th we visited my partner's family, where we had lunch and swapped presents.
I knew I was severely flagging at this point. I also knew I needed to be making an effort to lose some of this weight that was causing issues with my bag. I'd had enough socialising, but I'd also already arranged more plans into the new year.
Needing rest and recuperation with IBD
Finally, on the 29th, I had a people-free day! I'd written it in my calendar with lots of glittering stars next to it. My partner was still home, but he spent most of the day on his PlayStation and I spent most of the day in silence, before coming together again for an evening meal.
I was so relieved that I could finally have more control over what I was eating. I was also comforted by the thought of not having to navigate using other people's toilets!
Sometimes we have to cancel plans
I was very aware there was little time left before I was back to work, and I was completely exhausted.
I made the executive decision to turn down an invite to my aunties on New Year's Eve. I knew I wasn't going to see midnight, but technically we could have still gone for tea (that's dinner, for my American friends). I just didn't have it in me. I knew I was in desperate need of quiet time, and rest.
Suffering through a blockage
Midnight on New Year's Eve came and went, and I was still awake dealing with agonising abdominal pain. I knew I'd got a blockage, so I was doing the best I could to deal with it at home. I don't want to go to to the hospital, period, but on New Year's Eve? Dreadful idea!
It was 5 a.m. when it passed and I could finally get some sleep. The next day – well, technically later the same day – I was shattered. I'd only had about 3 hours of sleep. I was feeling annoyed because I'd made decisions based on wanting to return to work feeling refreshed, and like I'd had some rest. But then life, and my body, obviously had other plans.
The blockage had been a result of too many vegetables. My attempt at taking control of my diet so I could stop the bag leaks from occurring had obviously been a bit of a failure.
Getting back into the normal routine
I've definitely learnt my lesson, and next year, I'll be more sensible when planning festivities and visits. In reality, it's not like I didn't know that it was all going to be too much. I think I just got carried away with excitement and wanting to do things and see people.
I'm sure most people living with IBD can relate. I'm sure we've all pushed too hard and eaten things we knew might be a bit precarious on more than one occasion.
Now, normal service, and slow-paced living, have been resumed.
How open are you about being diagnosed with IBD?