I was awoken on Christmas morning by a symphony of squeals and shouts, and a herd of elephants running up and down the stairs. It was still dark outside. 🙂 Half-asleep, I stumbled down the hall to find my eldest nephew a-jumping and a-leaping, excitedly screaming “Santa has been!”. And his younger brother frantically shaking his stocking to more quickly get at the treats inside. My Mum was bouncing around in her glittery Christmas headgear, and my bro-in-law was dishing out well-needed tea and coffee. Within minutes of opening our eyes, my whole family had gathered in the boy’s bedroom. Together. Eating the odd gifted chocolate coin, playing Yokai top trumps, arguing over who was going in the shower first. Talking turkeys and timings, introducing the pet hamster to the new vibrating toy one, shouting requests for more tea and more chocolate. And so it had begun. Christmas Day 2019. My strongest and happiest festivities since developing Pulmonary Hypertension. 🙂
I’ve always loved Christmas. It is by far my favourite holiday. But since developing Pulmonary Hypertension, nearly seven years ago; the season of stockings and stars and stuffing, has always had a little lone cloud flying over it. Christmas is overindulgence and celebrating and catching up and partying. Christmas is twinkly lights and playing games and singing songs and to-do lists. Christmas is late nights and constant company and cooking feasts and always active. Christmas is go go go. And I love that about it. I love the hustle and bustle and fun and festivities. It’s a very special time. BUT it is hard to cope with when you have limited energy. It it exhausting. Really truly exhausting. It makes me nauseous and breathless and shaky. And I’m in a constant battle between head and heart- desperate to join in, yet aware it’ll make me poorly. Consequently as I open the first door of my advent calendar, my little lone cloud appears. Worry. Nerves. How will my body cope this year? What will I be well enough to do? What will I miss?
As I only have limited energy coins, Christmas is about prioritizing. Although my heart yearns to, I cannot celebrate how I used to. I cannot do everything -or even half- of what I want. So I have to pick and choose the parts of Yuletide which are most important and special to me… and only do those. My favourite traditions, my favourite customs, my favourite experiences. I forfeit some of the fun, to allow me to join in with the best bits. So I only travel over to my Mum’s on Christmas Eve, to conserve energy for the main day. I rest during some of the present opening time, to save energy for Christmas dinner. I nap when everyone is playing Lego, so I can have energy for a family game. I go to bed early, so I can spare energy for Boxing Day morning. I’m not able to enjoy all of Christmas… BUT I do get to be there for the most important parts for me. And I do get to be with my most important ones. So it’s still special. I still love it. It’s still my favourite holiday. 😀
But this year was different. For the first time since developing Pulmonary Hypertension, nearly seven years ago, I sailed through Autumn. My energy levels were reasonably high (for me 😉 ), my breathlessness low and my diary full. And remarkably, my good run of health continued past the first advent door… and the tree decorating… and the present wrapping. I rode through the whole of December in fourth gear. So this year I actually looked forward to Christmas. Not like my usual cheer tinged with nerves and worry. No. Pure giggly and sing-alongy and childish merriment… with no little lone cloud in sight. And amazingly, wonderfully, thankfully, my health didn’t disappoint. For the first time ever I didn’t need to escape upstairs for a rest once. For the first time ever I did not miss parts of the big day. For the first time ever, I stayed up late each evening, joined in every game (and there were hours of Exploding Kittens 😛 ) and even stayed over for an extra night! And I didn’t feel nauseous! I was there in the thick of it, celebrating with my lovely family, from Christmas Eve until the 27th! It was super. Of course my body did eventually suffer and need a few recovery days afterwards. But it was such a different Christmas for me. It was the First Noel that I’d truly truly enjoyed since becoming ill. 🙂
And furthermore, after just a few days of rest, my wonderful body was able to celebrate again on New Year’s Eve. Coming mere days after Xmas fun, I normally struggle to mark and enjoy it. I feel sick before I’ve even arrived at the party, rarely make it to midnight… and have had to completely bow out a few times. But this year was brilliant. I was well enough to stay with our lovely friends in Staffordshire. We ate an amazing Moroccan feast, raided the kids old-skool games (turns out Operation is quite tricky!), and danced to Auld Lang Syne. And for the first time, we didn’t rush home the next morning, but stayed for New Year’s Day fun.
So it was a fabulous festivities for me. My healthiest and happiest since developing PH. The perfect end to an awesome year. Thank you wonderful body. It was like My First Noel.
Only 348 days until the elephants wake me up again! 😀