Saturday, November 4, 2017




For all of you that have been following my series on Preparing for the Holidays with Chronic Pain, we are now on Part 4.  My intentions of doing this in one post ended up being a series of posts! In the previous posts PREPARINGFOR THE HOLIDAYS WITH CHRONIC PAIN - PART 1  it was discussed about how life in pain affects our holidays, the stress of all the activity, the importance of taking care of ourselves and getting organized with our Christmas responsibilities.

In PREPARING FOR THE HOLIDAYS WITH CHRONIC PAIN - PART 2  I reintroduced the organizational tools to make it easier for those of us in chronic pain to tolerate the Christmas season as best we can. I discussed strategic planning of our responsibilities, choices we can make to decrease stress and pain flares, as well as making modifications as we are able with gifting and shopping.

Then in PREPARING FOR THE HOLIDAYS WITH CHRONIC PAIN - PART 3 I covered suggestions for decorating, easy meals and simple entertaining. In this blog post I will continue the series with suggestions for baking and making Christmas goodies. then I will finish up in the last of the series with a look at socializing, as well as some cleaning cheats!

If you haven’t, thus far, had an opportunity to get yourself organized, as discussed in PREPARING FOR THE HOLIDAYS WITH CHRONIC PAIN - PART 1, you might want to consider reading that part and get to making those lists! Putting a plan into place on how to achieve what you need to do, what you can complete ahead of time, ask others to help with, or even eliminate all together, is imperative to decrease the hustle and bustle of the Holiday season. Just a thought!

Many of us love to bake and make our favorite Christmas goodies every year! Candies, cookies and dessert bars all have a special place in our hearts! Nevertheless, living with chronic pain makes doing all the tasks it takes to perform creating all these beloved items challenging. All the planning, getting the ingredients, getting it all set up, along with the repetitive reaching, gathering, stirring, measuring, sifting, lifting, and cleaning up make for a recipe for a whole lot of pain!

I know I have gotten started, couldn’t stop (stubborn) and have ended up in bed, in tears, with a mess all over the kitchen. Now that I am writing this, I have to put into practice what I am preaching and make some wise choices myself to hopefully have the greatest prospects to a low stress,  low pain, fun -filled yummy Christmas!

Here are some suggestions to create your goodies and enjoy them too:

 Go to a local bakery! This is the ultimate, trouble-free, no mess, no stress way!  They have abundant delectable, delicious and scrumptious goods to select. DONE! Seems like an excellent gift to yourself!

On the other hand, many of us still get into the Christmas baking frame of mind! We could opt to get a few goods from a bakery and then make only one or two of our favorites, as we are physically able to tolerate!

Start early - Many items can be made a couple months ahead of time and frozen! This way, you won’t have to go through all the making and baking along with the decorating, shopping and the other activities and events all at once.  If you do it slowly over the next couple months and freeze what you can, it would save you a lot of time and physically energy when it gets closer to Christmas.

Use your calendar to schedule your baking. Making sure you spread it all out so as not to physically over tax yourself! You are on familiar terms with what you can and can’t endure! This is about taking care of you and being able to enjoy time with loved ones this season! 

Choose just a couple items to make. And then make them a week in advance for freshest options.

Using an electric mixer with the regular beaters, as well as the dough beaters or a stand mixer can aid with eliminating the pain that can happen from trying to stir cookie dough and other thick items. Using a food processor is also great for chopping ingredients! 

Cookie dough-can be mixed up and frozen. You can pull it out of the freezer and allow thawing in the refrigerator overnight, or a couple days, and bake as needed! Roll it up in several tubes and cover with plastic wrap, then place in an airtight container. Take out the tubes as needed to thaw. Slice what is needed and bake. This can make for an easy, fun time with the little ones, as well as anyone unexpected guests who might pop over! 

Peanut brittle- holds well in an airtight container.

Fudge- holds well in a refrigerator for a week or so in an airtight container. Use wax paper between layers.

Dessert bars –some are easily frozen for a couple months or refrigerated for a week. 

I was delighted to find this article from Real Simple magazine for Easy Holiday and Christmas Cookies! It has my favorite recipe for Microwave Peanut Brittle my mom use to make! Although I have a hard time with the lifting and stirring, it is rather easy if you are having a low pain day! 

You will need to click on the article to go through the different items and also click each item to get the recipe!

In addition, if you have any diseases or disorders leading to physical impairments that impede your strength, coordination, sense of touch, or other skills needed for the tasks performed in any of these activates, be cautious with the heavy and hot items!. Please ask someone for help! Be safe!

For a good number of us living in chronic pain, the thought of going out to events, as well as visiting others, or having someone come and visit us, can launch us into panic mode. Many concerns cross our minds! We are concerned if we will be able to get out of bed that day and enjoy the time with friends and loved ones! We might be unsure if we will even be able to get dressed and ready. We question if we will be capable of sitting, standing, walking or are able to endure the activity this event will entail. We wonder if it will it be a horrific pain day. We question if we will be able to concentrate on the conversations through the gripping, horrible pain and respond appropriately to what is said.
It is incredibly difficult to fake feeling well when you are feeling extremely horrible! There are innumerable aspects to look at! This all causes us to regularly decline an invitation and not bother with the heaviness of worrying about not being able to show up, let alone be a delightful guest!  Sadly, for many of us living in chronic pain, those are issues we deal with and are a part of our new “normal!”
Here are a few suggestions to take into consideration when contemplating participating in an event you would cherish:

Pick and choose!  You know what your body can tolerate! You don’t have to attend every event. 

Decide ahead of time which ones you will commit to. 
Accept the invitation! But, be very open and straightforward about your physical issues. Tell them you would love to come! You are looking forward to it! However, explain that if you are having a bad pain day and cannot make it you would like them to know ahead of time you are extremely sorry if that were to happen! You will do all you possibly can to be able to come!

Then put into place all you possibly can to make it happen! HOWEVER, that does not mean worrying about it from the time you accept, until the time of the event. I know that is hard to do! I can say it to you, but it doesn’t mean I can just put that worry aside so easily myself! None of us want to offend our loved ones! We just need to try not to perseverate on the fact that, for some of us, the majority of the time, we do have to cancel! We do want to go and do fun things with our loved ones! It hurts deeply not to be able to do these things. It hurts us and our loved ones! But, in reality, this is our new “normal” and we need to help others understand as best we can why this is happening.

You know all you can do is your best to make it happen! Lay low with activities that aggravate your pain the week prior to the event for the most optimal chance at having a “tolerable” pain day. If folding laundry gets your nerves in your neck and arms screaming and burning, and if you don’t have someone that can do it for you, just try hanging up only what needs hanging and leave the rest in the laundry basket!

If cleaning your house leaves you in pain and in bed for days, don’t do it! If you don’t have someone to help, make a choice: have a clean home or try and feel “good enough” to be able to go to the event. Only you know what you need to avoid making for the best chance to be able to go. And living with chronic pain, we know that we can do everything possible to make sure we don’t increase our pain and yet, when the day arrives, we still may not be able to attend! Yes, this hurts deeply…we grieve these losses…it is hard! But, don’t demean and degrade yourself! Sad to say, it is a part of our new “normal.”

I will continue with socializing suggestions, along with "cheat cleaning" with the Christmas season in my next blog!  Until then!


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