Thursday, September 19, 2013

Spontaneity, the Sun, and Autoimmune Disease

The Offending Blackberries
Last weekend, my husband and I partook on one of our favorite weekend activities -- a day trip drive outside the city.  These have become part of our routine during warmer months. Day trips are easier for me in many ways than overnight ones that require more planning in terms of medicines and preparing foods that I can eat.  But unfortunately, I was again reminded that spontaneity and autoimmune disease are incongruous.  I know many of your have had these experiences where you forget for a just for a moment that you have autoimmune disease and there can be consequences.  Well, that's exactly what happened to me.

The story goes like this.  We were driving along in the country on a clear late summer afternoon.  We decided to a stop by a farm stand for an afternoon snack.  It was supposed to be a quick stop just walking into a building so I didn't think to take my sun protection armor along.  As we were about to pay for our fruits and vegetables, I noticed that someone was leaving with blackberries.  I wanted some of those -- they looked plump and delicious.  I was hungry and it was heading towards the end of berry season. I didn't know how much longer I'd be able to get those treats. So I inquired about how to get them and it turns out you had to pick them yourself.  

I had never been blackberry picking before and at the time it seemed like a great idea.  Something new to try, a bit of adventure for a Gal who has been pretty limited by her autoimmune disease.  Off my husband and I went blackberry picking.  It was not that thrilling to be crawling around picking the berries, but I did feel a sense of accomplishment when we finished.  I had put in some effort to get those berries that we were driving home with.

But, no, our story couldn't just end there. A few minutes after we got back to the car, I started to feel fatigued and weak. Like I had been run over by one of the farm tractors we had just seen.  The sun had gotten the best of me even though it was a mere half hour outside in the late afternoon.  My husband and I immediately realized that I had not been wearing my hat or long sleeve cover to protect me from the sun.  We had been truly living in the moment -- a rare occurrence but one that does not always work out so well.  

The next day I was bone tired and every joint in my body ached.  Walking was difficult and I spent a full day on the couch just resting as my body demanded.  I had no choice in the matter.   By the following day, I started to slowly recover. I was extremely lucky this time. I've had sun induced flares that have lasted a couple months. Boy, I am glad it seems this time I escaped.

Were the blackberries so delicious that it made the whole experience worth it?  They were good, but not good enough to make a mini-flare worthwhile.  When I'm feeling better I always want to do more. People, and seemingly endless articles I read, say you should "forget about your diseases" and "just go for it…you'll feel better."  I sometimes try. But what they don't understand is that when I do, there is all too often a real cost. 

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