Life with IC isn’t easy, and unfortunately the holidays don’t make it any easier. Although I’m still relatively new to the world of IC, I thought I’d share my tips of how to get through with minimal stress, and I’d love hearing from more seasoned veterans as well!
Go easy on yourself with the travel. If you’re driving, don’t worry if you need to stop what seems like every other exit. Either warn your traveling companions ahead of time, or subtly turn up Perry Como every time he gets to,
Gee, the traffic is terrific! Oh there’s no place like home…
If you’re flying, choose an aisle seat. While I miss looking out the window, aisle seats reduce my stress level dramatically. No need to worry about climbing over someone who has fallen asleep every twenty minutes. Otherwise you might end up sitting beside someone who tells you as soon as you tuck away your bag that she just had a hip replacement and can’t stand up easily. True story.
If you’re like me, I can barely sleep when I’m on the road. Being out of my routine means that every little noise I could sleep through in my own bed suddenly wakes me up. And of course every time I wake up, I have to go to the bathroom. Which can mean going 12+ times in one night. You know; you’ve been there. Recently I started taking a sleeping pill when I travel which has worked for me. For you it might mean packing earplugs and an eye mask, or making time for ten hours of “sleep” instead of eight.
It’s natural to associate Christmas with food – cookies for Santa, the goose getting fat, visions of sugar plums, gingerbread houses all around. And so when suddenly you can no longer have your favorite Christmas snacks (peppermint bark for me – nearly impossible to find without the chocolate; cranberry is what I miss most at Thanksgiving), it’s natural to be frustrated and depressed. Can you even open Christmas presents without a warm cup of coffee in your hands?
The good news is that there are plenty of IC-friendly alternatives that won’t leave you feeling too shortchanged. Peppermint, almonds, and white chocolate are all pleasure-savors for me. Here’s a few recipes to get you through:
White Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes
Maple-Roasted Almonds (just follow the directions for roasting, skip the almond butter part)
Date Bread (substitute almonds for the pecans, and cut the amount of nuts in half. Beyond delicious)
I also highly recommend Safeway brand Hot (white) Chocolate. Definitely the best kind I’ve tried so far. Add a candy cane if you’re really feeling out there.
Make easy substitutions for your favorite recipes – chopped up dates instead of raisins, white chocolate instead of chocolate, almonds instead of pecans or walnuts, pears or apples instead of candied fruit, a little extra cinnamon instead of cloves, garlic instead of cayenne.
In can be tough to eat when you are on the road or visiting friends and family. It can be exhausting to constantly ask for a run down of all ingredients of everything you put in your mouth. I usually try to bring my own food, which can be a problem when I fly home. Try packing some emergency granola bars and remember you can have your own feast when you get back.
Take it Easy
You won’t be able to do everything you used to. It’s a fact of life. While sitting through a two-hour mass maybe used to be the highlight of your year, you might find the hard pews torturous now. Walking around the neighborhood looking at lights might cause you shooting pains that you never had before. Getting up early with little ones on Christmas morning might be near impossible with your Elavil hangover. You might have to pass on the Yule log cake. Life won’t be the same from here on out, and so Christmas won’t either. That doesn’t mean it has to be worse, but knowing that it will be a new experience will help ease disappointment.
Whatever this time of year means for you – end of the year reflection, family time, celebrating birth, lights, or long nights, take some time out to experience it. IC hurts – no one is denying that and no one is asking you to pretend like it doesn’t for a few weeks. Take some time to meditate, reflect, pray for yourself and others who are suffering.
Because at the end of the day, isn’t that what this time of year is all about? Not ignoring the hurt, but finding the little bit of light in the darkness.
How do you celebrate the holidays with or in spite of your IC? What are your favorite treats?