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A Painful Choice: To Cancel Plans or Not

Last updated: July 2018

There are many reasons why I cancel plans. I’d be a liar if I said that psoriatic arthritis and my other chronic illnesses were always to blame, but in all honesty, they do account for 99.9% of my cancellations.


The number one reason is that I am in pain! Yes, I know I have said that I am always in pain, but there are levels. There are some levels where I can function just fine and other levels that demand that I remain in bed or on the sofa. The level of pain that prompts me to cancel differs depending upon the amount of energy or strength that the outing would have required.

Just say NO to germs

Canceling becomes a necessity when my immune system takes dive. If I want to function in the coming days or weeks, I cannot risk being sneezed or coughed on. In this scenario, I will not be found lying in bed. Instead, I may use that time to tackle tasks around the house. Many people have no problem leaving the house when they have the sniffles or a common cold, but for those of us with compromised immune systems a simple cold can quickly turn into a severe or deadly illness.

A better option

Another reason is that something more important may have come up. Yes, you read that correctly! Anything involving my kids, spouse, and family will trump all other plans. If my kids plan something that they really want me to attend near the time I have plans with you, there is a good chance I will cancel with you in order to be able to be there for my children. To be clear, it must be something really important or meaningful to my family, I won’t dump you for a day at Disneyland or to go shopping.

Judgment call

I don’t like having to rank or assess social commitments by how much pain they will cause or by my energy level, but it is the reality of living with multiple chronic illnesses. Even now, with my pain so well managed, I still have to think about my illnesses before accepting an invitation. What do I have planned the day before or the day after? Will my body be able to handle this excursion? How much pain will accepting this invite inflict on my body and am I willing to endure it?

My reasons for canceling are all painful, even if they aren’t because of physical pain. I don’t make plans that I do not intend to keep. When I make plans with someone it is because I really want to spend time with them and/or participate in the planned activity. One way I reduced how often I was canceling plans was to stop saying "yes" to every invitation. By simply replying “I will get back to you”, I gift myself time to assess my current state, check my calendar, and see if my family has anything planned during that time.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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