Four Ways to Plan a Successful Outing
Last updated: July 2019
Leaving the house for any reason can be a stressful event for those of us with psoriatic arthritis (PsA). Fear of a pain spike or having to leave early are often reasons we why we decline invitations. However, a successful outing is possible if we do the following.
1. Set realistic expectations
It should go without saying that if we struggle to walk across the grocery store we shouldn’t accept an invitation to hike up a mountain or go skiing. However, if you are like me, we may be having a good spell and develop pain amnesia and forget to plan with our chronic illness in mind. Instead, even if in remission, we need to consider our disease and choose activities that we are either physically capable of or that would allow the use of a mobility aid when our bodies refuse to cooperate.
2. Be flexible.
PsA is anything but predictable. A surprise flare may require us to leave early, alter our plans, or completely change what we had planned. For example, an abdominal muscle injury dictated that I couldn’t go on any rides at Disneyland for three months last year. However, I was still able to go and have fun by spending time watching parades and shows. Sometimes a change of venue is required. In the past, I was guilty of not speaking up and suffering through dinners at restaurants that had seating that increased my pain. To rectify this I began standing up for myself. The moment I realize that the chosen venue won’t do, I suggest a different location. Yes, I risk upsetting someone in the party but less pain and downtime is worth it. If the location chosen has a significant importance to a member in our group, I stay as long as I can tolerate it and either leave early or retreat to the car until they finish. I also make it clear that they are not putting me out nor are my actions a form of rebellion or punishment, but are for self-preservation.
3. Be prepared.
Leaving home became less stressful after I began bringing along a chronic care bag and either my wheelchair or walker. By keeping a bag packed with items that either reduce pain or comfort me while flaring it’s ready to go when I am, which makes getting out the door so much easier. If I am using one of my mobility aids, I keep my bag with me at all times by hanging it on it. If I am going to be on foot I transfer a few of the most essential items to my purse and leave the rest in my car. Having a good day doesn’t mean that I don’t run the risk of needing a mobility aid, so when I venture out I make sure to have one of them in my trunk. Whether I need everything I bring along or not doesn’t matter, just knowing I have what I need allows me to enjoy my time out instead of worrying about what I’d do if a flare struck.
4. A good attitude.
Some of my best outings have been ones where nothing went as planned. One reason for this is because I left my house with the intention of having fun no matter what might happen. Even if I have to return home just moments after arriving, I give myself a pat on the back for trying.
A successful outing isn’t one that goes off without a hitch. Allowing ourselves to have fun, laugh, and try something new is what makes an outing successful.
Do you usually need to recover from a vacation?