Years ago the term the morning after had very different meanings and connotations to what it has for me now. Most people can identify with the term when in connection to a night spent drinking (and other things) but very few people will understand the after effects felt by those with Autoimmune illnesses after doing, well, basically anything.
And I mean anything.
The more stressful or physical an event can be the more our bodies can pay a tremendous price. Like anyone else out there we want to do pleasurable things like visiting, going for dinner, watching a movie or sitting by the beach but even those things can cause a backlash of pain and symptoms that are unpredictable and unavoidable.
Unlike my former life where I often experienced hangovers and repercussions for things I did in the pursuit of my personal pleasure, the after affects (often called flares) I experience today are usually the result of when I try to do things for others or to help others, when I try to feel useful and valuable. Even trips to specialists, waiting in their office and the return trip home can be so tiring and painful.
I hate it.
Sometimes life throws us a difficult time and a very stressful situation which we really can’t avoid and then an hour or day later I start experiencing an exacerbation of the pain or some new symptoms I don’t normally have to contend with. Flares can last from days to months and are an emotional and physical hell.
I am currently experiencing one as a result of a difficult period and stressful events (physically and mentally). Like all my joints where lit on fire and a truck started driving over them. My vision has suffered. My tremors and vertigo have worsened and my colitis (IBD) has activated and reduced me to a liquid diet and living in the bathroom. All I can do is hope that it will pass soon… But I don’t when it will pass. I never get to know.
Imagine your worst hangover, your worst flu, your worst gastro and your worst fatigue ever and then throw them all together at once. And then throw in a broken bone for good measure!
This is not the same for every Autoimmune sufferer, we all have varying flare symptoms and for varying lengths of time, but we all hate it and wish we didn’t have to go through it.
Sometimes, if the flare is particularly cruel, it might mean a trip to A&E for an IV of methyl prednisone or antibiotics; or both.
The morning after can actually mean many mornings, and for relatively minor offenses compared to some of the activities I used to be able to do, but those are the terms and these are the conditions now.
Can someone who doesn’t have these illnesses understand what some of us contend with? Maybe not. But as long as we keep trying to explain, hold our heads up and making the information available, then maybe, just maybe…