Do What You Can Do (And No More)

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by Jamie Hughes |

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I don’t know about you, but last week passed in a blur. I typically enjoy Thanksgiving, but this year, things were a little wonky. My husband’s grandfather passed away a month or so ago, so we weren’t about to ask his grandmother to prepare anything. My mother-in-law and I decided to shoulder the load together, but then my father-in-law ended up in the hospital. If we were to have a holiday, it meant 100 percent of the cooking would fall to me.

And oh, how I love a good challenge.

I did buy a few things like rolls and pie (because I’m not a martyr and the Marietta Diner here in Georgia makes a killer cherry one). However, even with these shortcuts, I still spent nearly five hours cooking things like homemade cranberry sauce and vegetarian gravy, which is fantastic. I also prepped the turkey and the other five sides.

The next day, I rolled out of bed at 5:30 a.m. and got the oven cranked up for a five-hour marathon of cooking. Pan dressing, corn casserole, green bean casserole, sweet potato souffle, macaroni and cheese — it all went in according to schedule. And I finished within 15 minutes of my planned end time. Boom goes the dynamite, right?

Well, my father-in-law had come home from the hospital the day before but felt too ill to travel, and no one would leave their house if he couldn’t come. So, rather than drive it all to Grandma’s house, I packed it all up and headed to the farm. My husband fetched the grand dame and brought her to the festivities, and it all worked out quite well in the end.

But all that work cost me something.

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Violence Can Ensue When We Don’t Rest

That night, I came home happy because I had been able to provide a nice holiday meal for everyone, but I was weary from the top of my head to the bottoms of my feet. I was so tired, I swear my hair hurt.

That meant the day after Thanksgiving was what Noodles the Pug would refer to as a “No Bones Day.” It was time to be lazy and take care of myself after such a long stretch of work. I’ve learned over the last 17 years as an MS patient that I have energy for a lot of things, but never for everything. I can haul like a pack mule for quite a long time, but my strength isn’t infinite. At some point, I have to shut down and recharge, or my body will do it for me. (And that’s never pretty, let me tell you.)

It’s all about balance, isn’t it? I mean, for most of us, fatigue is a given. We can’t really fight it, but we can learn how to manage it and create a few workarounds. So yes, I worked my tail off for the holiday, and then I spent the next three days resting and taking care of myself.

My kids stayed to help my husband on the farm, so I spent that time resting and doing things for myself. I decorated my Little Free Library for Christmas, and planted rosemary topiaries (complete with red bows) in pretty boxes at the base of our front porch stairs. I slept and read books and watched way too much football and Netflix. And by the time everyone came home, I was pretty much back to normal. I felt more like myself and ready to get back at it.

While we may not be able to go all out all the time because of multiple sclerosis, that doesn’t mean we can’t accomplish what we set out to do. It may take us a little longer (with a few “No Bones Days” in there to help keep everything balanced), but we can always get it done.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Broughton Leanne avatar

Broughton Leanne

Well done! Don't do the full deal myself (Canadian thanksgiving is in Oct) anymore. Lucky our family is small. My grown son is a sous chef so I delegate some things to him. I do some of the prep in the days before, like make my pie, ambrosia, maybe rolls, cut up stuffing veg. We no longer have our seniors, nor aunts. My husband helps too if asked. Now you and hopefully mothers can gear up for Christmas..

Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

Christmas is less of an ordeal for us because the meal isn't front and center, but it's still a good bit of work. But I'll be with my mom and dad for that, and we make a great team. I'll be glad when I can just do something small every holiday and really ENJOY the day instead of dreading it, you know?

Anita Simon avatar

Anita Simon

Glad it all worked out in the end. Now, you have to share the recipe for your Vegetarian Gravy!

Jamie Hughes avatar

Jamie Hughes

It's linked in the article, I believe. However, here it is again just in case! It really was spectacular.


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