Well, Halloween was a mixed bag.
Prior to last night, it had been more than 6 months since I last attended a party thrown by anyone in my group of friends. First, I was focused on graduating law school, then taking the bar, and then *poof* I was in the hospital and recovering. For me, social butterfly that I used to be, it may as well have been damn near forever, since I don’t see the majority of the people who go to these parties at any other time. Shoot, some of them don’t even have blogs! (I don’t understand either… I mean, it is 2008, and I assure you, they are intelligent, funny people!)
Anyway, yesterday, I determined, would be my great relaunch into the social scene. Looking back, it probably wasn’t the best idea, but it was something I had to do. Ultimately, I don’t regret doing it.
My costume was going to be very simple – I was going to BE disease. (Hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself, what CAN you laugh at?) So the idea was that I’d look all goth-y and hand out disgusting-looking but good-tasting cupcakes that bore the names of diseases on them.
I really just couldn’t think of anything funnier than walking up to my friends and “giving” them “Scurvy” or “Lycanthropy” or any other much-less-tasteful disease. (Hey, what’s a little “crotch-rot” between friends?)
I got about halfway through baking the treats when I realized that I might not make it to the party that night. Despite the fact that I’ve been doing better with my treatments, I had more seizures yesterday than I’ve had in weeks. Adam and I think I might be going through an MS relapse, but we’re not sure yet. I still couldn’t let go of the idea of seeing my friends, so I sucked it up and made those cupcakes like it was my JOB.
I couldn’t continue to ignore my body though. It’s a hard thing to do, especially when you’re unintentionally twitching. I called the party hostess and told her I was just going to pop in to say hi and drop off the “diseased” cupcakes and then leave. I didn’t have the energy to get into costume, but I felt like death warmed over, so I figured the costume was complete.
I forgot how many of our friends are crazy shutterbugs and how photo-sensitive I can be from time to time. In the 20 minutes I was at that party, I had 4 seizures – and they weren’t small. I ended up on the floor in both the kitchen and the back yard, and I hadn’t even been drinking!
I was mortified. There, in front of almost everyone I know in this city, I was on the floor, writhing uncontrollably. I was sure the world would stop or people would freak out or that no one would want to invite me to anything ever again. I was certain that I’d just become a pariah.
But I was wrong.
Not only did the party NOT stop, but the people who were right next to me (aside from one of the party hosts) didn’t even seem to notice. Everyone kept having fun, gave me hugs goodbye, and I went home, albeit with my tail between my legs.
Walking to the car, I felt pathetic. Why had I even tried going to a party when I knew I was out of spoons and felt terrible? Why had I allowed myself to believe I could go out at night and have a good time when I haven’t been able to in so long? Social lives, parties, and fun are for healthy people – and I had DARED to pretend to myself that I was healthy.
What a load of crap.
This morning, I am proud as can be that I went to that party because I learned some extremely important things:
- No one notices my disability as keenly as I do. What is earth-shattering to me may be barely perceptible to others – so I don’t need to be as self conscious as I have been. At large, raucous parties where people are being silly and drinking, it’s hardly a social faux-pas to find yourself laying on the lawn or going to find someplace quiet to hang out. Apparently, NON-disabled people do it all the time! (Who’d have thunk?)
- Going out and seeing friends, even for a very short time, is good for your soul. I must have hugged 20 people last night –minimum. Almost every one of them said, “Oh my God! Where have you BEEN? We’ve missed you!” It reminded me that I have a much bigger support network than I’ve been tapping into, and that real life social interaction is absolutely necessary to maintaining a positive outlook on life.
- It’s important to remember who you were before diagnosis, who you want to be in the future, and what you can do in the present to maintain your sense of self. For a few months now, my life has been turned upside down. No bar exam or law school to study for, no demanding job – nothing to force me to push forward towards a goal… nothing demanding that I overcome adversity to succeed. Oh yeah, except for this whole “living well with multiple chronic illnesses” thing. I often forget that just living well is its own goal, and that the goals we set along the way are just “how” and not “why.”
In the end, Halloween 2008 was good. Despite my body’s tricks, I managed to do what I wanted to do. I got some much-needed face time with friends – and despite the sickly-sweet Hallmark nature of this statement — that’s the best treat I could ask for. 🙂