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Adrienne Dellwo

Celebrating Christmas With Fibromyalgia: My Gameplan

By December 22, 2009

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You may have noticed I talk a lot about planning this time of year. That's because it really works for me, as I attempt to enjoy the holiday season with fibromyalgia. I start planning early, and revise as needed, to get to Christmas without wiping myself out -- but it doesn't end there. I have to think ahead about Christmas day as well.

I have young kids -- my son is 7 and my daughter's 5. That means Christmas day starts early. After we're done unwrapping gifts at home, we generally get together with my husband's immediate family to have brunch and exchange gifts. Then, we go to his grandma's house for present opening with aunts, uncles and cousins; some activities; dinner; and then usually some kind of game that can last until all the little kids (and some of the adults) are falling asleep on their feet.

It's a fun day, and I don't want to miss any of it. Sometimes, I've had to. A couple of years ago, I stayed home and took a 3-hour nap while my family went off to have fun. Last year, I planned better and fared better as well. Here's what I'm planning for this year:

  • Lots of scheduled down time in the days before Christmas (which is possible because of my earlier planning.)
  • Strict dietary control (for my gluten intolerance) in the days before, and on Christmas day until after dinner, so the symptoms don't hit during the festivities. I can't expect myself to abstain all day!
  • Giving myself permission to slip away to a quiet corner and rest if I need it.
  • Lists, lists, lists! I'll have prepared lists for everything we need to take when we leave home, and I'll also make a list of everything my kids take with them.
  • Organization. As we all rip open presents that will need to be taken home, in a small room with 20 or so other folks, I'll try to keep everything in one area so we're not searching high and low for things at the end of the evening.
  • Keeping key meds & supplements on hand. I'll take a supply of Vicodin, Flexeril, DHEA & theanine with me, so I can get on top of problems fast.

What do you do to help you get through the big day? What mistakes have you made? Share your holiday stories below!

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December 22, 2009 at 3:55 pm
(1) Allie says:

Hello. What brand of theanine do you use? I am thinking about getting some. How much do you take? Thanks!

December 28, 2009 at 5:10 pm
(2) Adrienne Dellwo says:


I take whatever brand they have at the store where I happen to be shopping, lol. I know some people are fiercely loyal to particular brands, but they all seem about the same to me. I take 200 mg every morning (plus I drink 1-3 cups of tea a day, so I get more there.)

December 22, 2009 at 7:33 pm
(3) Don says:

Thanks for your posting.
It is important to plan and not miss out, or miss out on as little as possible during the busy holiday season.
Have you or any of your readers considered becoming involved in clinical trials to find solutions?

December 23, 2009 at 7:19 am
(4) Amy says:

Thanks for this post! I find raising two boys (mine are 3 and 6) to be the most challenging part of CFS. I was having a good week and completely overdid it (including sledding… what was I thinking???), which left me in a big crash with two days until Christmas. Last year though, I barely made it out of bed for Christmas. Since I was feeling better this year (being treated with Valcyte and supplements), I felt like I had to make up for last year. Obviously, that was a BIG mistake. I LOVE the game plan of eating treats at the very end… that suggestion alone may help me hold off and get some energy back… Thanks!!

December 23, 2009 at 11:18 am
(5) Enibas says:

Yes, I also like your gluten-plan.
I do exactly the same, though I have to add a couple of more items….But I find gluten to be the worst and most important to quit.
“Most the time”, I am intrigued by this, because i never wrote it down or told anyone…
The wrong diet is not killing us – at least not on occasional level, but very much contributing to our problems!
I have helped myself this months with allowing myself certain things: a good Marzipan really should have only almonds and sugar…there is sugar but that’s it.
Especially when you make it home, you can make a wonderful cheesecake, with only diff. dairies but no eggs, no wheat, no yeast, etc.
Another thing is, if I break the diet only one day, I occ. get away with that. But if I continue (which is easy to fall for! – ) it get’s worse with every day.
Another thing, being 46 or having had this illness25 years, either way, the food allergies have become worse so that I can really tell myself, that it is irresponsible for me to eat such things knowingly so bad for me, that does help, too.
Most important I believe is, being a loving person, mother and wife. As long as you can smile (and sometimes that might not be exactly how you feel, I know that!) or retreat with a smile and a light reason (little kids do not need to know how bad it really is), I think all is pretty well

Another thing that would probably help, and in this regard I like to ask you, Adrienne, how you convinced your doctor to prescribe you Vicodin which I think would be very helpful for many or most (?) of us…Leaving with a supply of Vicodin must a nice reassurance! And all of us, responsible and in real and bad pain should have that option – well, that is my opinion…
Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, mostly, well-being and joy and happiness with all the things we can do and grateful for those we have.
Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2009 at 10:45 am
(6) Tammy says:

I agree with you on keeping those meds on hand. I also have added Melatonin at night. I seem to get a better nights sleep and don’t wake up groggy in the morning.

December 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm
(7) beckie says:

ive never really looked into the diet side of this condition,as i rely on suger fixes to give me energy through the day,i dont go mad but usually energy drink in morn,1 can coke and bar of choc in afternoon for quick enrgy drink,although i do only drink decaffe tea.ive tried cutting out the energy drinks from my diet and just cant cope as have NO energy what so ever and get nothing done,i find i do try eating healthy fruits ,veg,salads,brown breads but around my period it all goes out the window for at least 10 days,how do you alilanate ( excuse poor spelling) foods from your diet to try and fing what effects you,it must take months and months,if i knew there were a couple of foods to aviod to make me feel abit better it would be great.
merry xmas to to you all

December 19, 2011 at 4:01 am
(8) Tess says:

I never really thought about it too much but I think sugar is a bad one because I know if I have had something with sugar or especially if I go on these “sugar binges” for a few days then I pay with lots of pain afterwards. As far as my game plan for Christmas Day anyways, since I make a big turkey dinner and desserts and stuff, I am planning to make stuff ahead over a few days before Christmas. I did find that worked pretty good over Thanksgiving so I am hoping it will work just as well for Christmas. Only thing though, you have presents and card sending as well, so we will see how it turns out. Merry Christmas and not too much stress and lots of laughter through the season.

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