Thursday, December 20, 2012

Getting Through the Holidays with Chronic Illness (Plus Bonus Quiche Recipe!)

Holidays with Chronic Illness
I spend a lot of time with patients on the phone this time of year. I know I am busy, but the holidays can be overwhelming for someone with a chronic illness like interstitial cystitis, so I do my best to help them.

Today, I had a heart-to-heart conversation about the holidays with an IC patient (she also has multiple conditions including chronic back and neck pain). Near the end of our call, she said, "I don't feel guilty about not being able to do everything; I am over that. But I spend a lot of time in my head dwelling on the fact that people are judging me." I asked what she meant about that, and she said she "sees" disappointment in people's faces that she can't participate like she used to.

This reminded me of a Dr. Oz segment I saw earlier this week where he interviewed Christine Carter, PhD. The topic was "Things that block us from being happy the most." Here is what his guest had to say:
  1. Perfectionism (which is basically living in a continual state of "not good enough."
  2. Materialism (always thinking of what you can get rather than what you can give), and
  3. Entitlement (more likely to feel disappointed when we don't get what we want than we are to feel grateful when we do).

Now, I realize that is all easier to say than it is to correct. In fact, I was watching the recorded show while I was wrapping Christmas presents at 1 am. It was just what I needed to hear. The tape dispenser was not cooperating, and I realized I hadn't purchased bows. Perfectionism for me this time of year mostly revolves around: Are the packages going to look perfect? Am I going to have the right food? Or I read our Christmas letter again and again wishing I had said something or not said something else. It is so easy to get trapped in all of that and more when when we see our magazines full of perfectly set tables, photo worthy food, gorgeous hand cut Christmas cards, and perfect homemade gifts. 

I think I get trapped in reverse materialism...which seems to me just as damaging...."Am I giving enough? Maybe I should get just one last gift card for the kids. Does everyone have the same number of presents? Will this be as good as last Christmas?" 

And the entitlement isn't about gifts either for me......I think for many women, it is easy to fall into the trap of, "Well I did all of this for you, so you should praise me and be thankful and do your part to make the holiday perfect." We need to give without expectation of thanks. Not to say my family isn't appreciative and grateful. Quite the opposite. But if we are waiting for the exact right phrase, or the hand written thank you (when someone wrote a lovely email or text of thanks) or if we didn't get thanked "properly" for that one item we took months to find...well that is a trap. So........this year no bows.......and the corners of the packages are mashed together. I think we will still enjoy Christmas. 

In the end, I wonder if our view of the holidays is skewed by our own view of things, and maybe as the psychologists say, we need to change ourselves so that others view us differently. 

Do you feel guilty around the holidays because you are "sick"? Do you spend "a lot of time in your head" thinking people are judging you? Do you think this is more a reflection of what you feel, or is it true, people judge you? If so, let's brainstorm ways to get over that so we can all enjoy the holidays! You deserve a lovely holiday just like everyone else!

PS: To see Dr. Oz and Dr. Carter talk about how to boost your happiness, check out a video from that segment here: Also see my previous blog post, Bringing the Ho-Ho-Ho Back to the Holidays. 

BONUS: Christmas Day Breakfast Recipe from Confident Choices: A Cookbook for IC and OAB:

Spinach and Feta Quiche


·          2 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach (thawed)

·          5 eggs

·          1 c. half and half (may substitute 1 c. evaporated skim milk)

·          1 c. crumbled feta cheese (4 oz.)

·          2 T. chopped green onions

·          1/2 t. lemon zest, if tolerated

·          1/2 t. salt

·          1/4 t. pepper
·          1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell (may use refrigerator or frozen dough)

Pierce bottom of pie shell and bake for 5 minutes at 350°F. Cool slightly. Raise temperature of oven to 400°F.

Drain spinach and press out all liquid. (This can be done easily between layers of paper towels.) Set aside.

Whisk eggs and half-and-half or milk in bowl. Add cheese, green onions, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Pour into partially baked pie shell. Bake on middle rack, 400°F for 10 minutes, reducing oven temperature to 350°F for the last 25 minutes. (Note: the timing seems to be different every time for me. Test frequently like you do a cake. Put a dry strand of spaghetti in the middle and see what it looks like when you bring it out. It should be moist, but not dripping with egg mixture.)

Broccoli and Cheese Quiche:  Substitute 1 cup frozen broccoli florets for the spinach and 1/2 cup mozzarella or cheddar cheese for the feta cheese.

Don't need the whole cookbook? Try the Confident Choices e-books

Julie Beyer, MA, RDN
Author, Speaker, Patient Advocate Just Tell Me What to Eat!

For step by step guidance for creating your own personal interstitial cystitis meal plan, see: Confident Choices®: Customizing the Interstitial Cystitis Diet.

For some basic, family-style, IC bladder-friendly recipes, see: Confident Choices®: A Cookbook for Interstitial Cystitis and Overactive Bladder

For health care workers:  Interstitial Cystitis: A Guide for Nutrition Educators

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