Most people think of a dinner out with friends as a relaxing outing; however, it is anything but relaxing for someone who lives with a painful chronic condition. Instead of only needing to find time to go out, I have to plan my outing far enough before and after any other outings I have planned and schedule downtime before and after this outing. Then I need to hope and pray that I will be able to keep my commitment or that my friends will understand when I must cancel. I never know if I will be able to drive myself or if I will need a ride. Not driving usually extends the amount of time I am able to spend out because I am can medicate for pain. However, medicating for pain doesn’t mean that I won’t need time to recover, it may lessen it but not eliminate it.
Conversing while having chronic pain
How much conversing I do during dinner depends upon my pain level. The higher my pain level is, the less I speak. Before becoming chronically ill I only had to focus on the conversation taking place at the table. Now I am constantly thinking about my pain level and the repercussions of pushing too far. How long will I be able to sit up? The simple task of walking from our table to the restroom fills my mind with many questions. Will I get there in time? Will there be a line? How many steps will I have to take and will I be able to maneuver my body through the restaurant without falling? Is the pain of walking across the facility worth it, or should I wait until I am at home? During the meal, I struggle to keep up with conversations like I used to because my body distracts my mind. I often only hear part of what others are saying and sometimes only fragments because my muscles, nerves, and bones are screaming at me. I analyze everything I plan to say in my head to make sure I have the appropriate response and correct wording before speaking. Conversations aren’t easy like they used to be. Pain messes with my brain and makes finding the words I wish to verbalize difficult.
Friends who are understanding
My best dinner dates are with those who understand how physical pain consumes and distracts my brain. The kinds of people who don’t mind eating in silence or that are content with small talk are the best. To make dining out less dreadful I let someone else drive, medicate appropriately, and rest as much as possible prior to going out. The most important thing I can do is recognize and accept when I am not able to go out.
Has how you dine out changed since your diagnosis? If so, how is it different and what changes have you had to make?
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