I live in a community that is very laid back - people are often late for things, don't plan too much ahead, and generally do things at the spir of a moment. I enjoy the laid back lifestyle, and people being willing to do things spontaniously. It helps with me not being able to really plan too much in advance to have people think nothing of a dinner invite the day of etc. BUT one area that I struggle a lot with is people "dropping in". I think that for many people with chronic pain this is a trial that is hard to explain to someone who is not in chronic pain. Here are some pointers for those of you who may need some help understanding:
1. I don't sleep quite like a "normal" (I hate that word!) person. So, if you stop by I may very likely be sleeping after being up in pain all night. It doesn't matter to my body if it is 2 pm, when I can sleep I need to so that I can handle the pain.
2. If I am not sleeping I may be in my PJs - look at the entry tiles "Comfortable Clothes" from April. Those of us with pain need to wear comfortable clothes and PJs are often an all-day attire. It embarraces me when you stop by and see me in my PJs all cuddled up on the couch.
3. A phone call asking if I would like a visitor - or even saying that you want to drop off soup but that you don't need to come is i really helpful. When I am really sick I appreciate people taking the time to check in on me, as long as you call and ask me first. DON'T call and leave me a message if I don't answer, "I'll be heading over - just wanted to let you know" If I don't answer I am probably not up for company!
4. When I can't visit it is usually nothing personal! I feel bad turning friends away, but sometimes I just am not up to visitors.
5. When you do visit me, keep in mind that I get tired easily, and so keeping visits short is a kindness. I may even want you to stay longer - but if you notice that I start to fade (take out my heating pad, lay down) then maybe you could ask if I need to have the visit be over - OR suggest that I lay down and we do something less taxing like watch a movie together. Talking for hours is sometimes hard for me when I am feeling horrible. If I insist that we keep talking etc. then my tiredness is on me - but do help me out by offering. It really does help!
6. When I am super sick (like after surgery etc) sometimes it is really nice to have visitors especially if I have been stuck in the house for a long time. It helps me when you tell me that you want me to stay in bed/couch and that you will just make yourself at home. It is hard for me not to be a hostess, so if you get yourself a drink/snack etc it makes me feel like I am at least hosting you without getting up. One of the sweetest man at my church (who is about my Daddy's age) came to visit me in the hospital a couple months ago. I was tired from lots of visitors who wanted to talk a lot with me .. but he brought a book and just sat there and read while I slept. It helped me feel like I wasn't alone, but he made me feel comfortable to get the sleep that I needed.
7. Remember that I love you and that I want to be a good friend to you. I hate that my pain commands that I do things differently, but I am working hard to make the best of the life that I have been given. Your understanding and helping me with things like visits really means a lot to me!