This week, a friend of mine held a cocktail party for those of us who offered her assistance while her husband was hospitalized at the same time she’d had the flu. Little did she know what a thrill it was for me to have been able to help on the day she needed me. I’d been the one asking for a favor rather than the one granting one too many times in my life. I felt like I owed her a party instead!
These days, I have mixed feelings about attending parties of any kind. On one hand, it’s an occasion for socializing. Being the “people person” I am, this opportunity is always welcome. On the other hand, parties can be difficult for people with fibromyalgia.
The first hurdle is the drink. Almost everyone I know drinks alcohol socially. I do, too, on days when I’m not feeling nauseous from IBS or when I’m not taking a medication that doesn’t mix. But rather than discuss my digestive difficulties, I always accept half a glass of wine. There’s an art to nursing that half-glass for an entire evening, and I’ve learned that art really well.
The next hurdle is the food. For a gluten-sensitive and lactose-intolerant person like me, this can be the biggest challenge. My policy is always to eat before I go. This way I’m not tempted to try items that may contain problematic ingredients. Raw veggies and potato chips (without the dips) are my go-to party foods. Luckily, they take up lots of room on a plate, so it appears you’re eating a lot when you’re not.
Once you have a glass in one hand and food in the other, the next challenge appears. It’s time to socialize! This is the highlight of the evening, when people stand around and talk. I’m fine with the talking part. It’s the standing I don’t do well. For whatever reason, it’s a far greater strain on my fatigued muscles to stand in one place than it is to be walking. The preferred alternative is an empty chair near someone I know (or even a total stranger). Because this is rarely an option, I generally sit alone, trying to look as welcoming as possible. Sometimes, a person who knows my situation will join me. More often, I just appear unfriendly, getting up as frequently as possible to claim another piece of broccoli, hoping for an understanding face along the way.
My most effective tactic is to engage someone in a one-on-one conversation, admit my difficulty with standing (without going into the gory details), and invite that person to sit with me. If that technique works, it could be an enjoyable evening. If it does not, I begin crafting my story for why I need to leave early.
I must admit that this issue has become more manageable with time. As more of my aging peers begin to have health issues, standing is not as easy for them as it once was. I find more people are willing (anxious, even) to join me on a couch somewhere.
So, take heart, you youngsters with fibromyalgia, and know that age is the great equalizer. Soon, you’ll be living on a more level playing field. The fatigue that now prevents you from participating in many activities will in time be matched by a host of other ailments the rest of your world will experience. There will be a day in your future when sitting comfortably will be standard at cocktail parties. Then, you’ll be able to fully participate like everyone else!
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.