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Surviving Gatherings with Neurocardiogenic Syncope

No matter what you do at the end of the year, no matter your culture or family traditions; November and December is a time for gatherings. There will be food, food and more food, late nights, laughter and making merry of sorts. Normally, that would make for good times and even greater memories. Unfortunately, when you have Dysautonomia and especially Neurocardiogenic Syncope, things can be less than enjoyable.

One of my major problems dealing with my condition is that I cannot be over stimulated because it absolutely drains me and sets off my symptoms. This deals more with sensory issues like noise and smells. There is also a problem with excitement and laughter. I often want to shy away from gatherings and fellowships because it is not always worth the physical and mental effort to just be present. The recovery can be long and painful. It is a huge departure from the person that I was before all of the health changes because I am typically social. I love people and I LOVE connecting. However, NCS makes me antisocial and a hermit or better yet, a recluse.

"What is the big deal?", you say. Well, the noise that comes with people in close proximity makes me want to vomit. It's cold outside so you know that you wear warm clothes to combat against the heat. The host will make sure that you are warm once you get there as well. The extra warmth coupled with my issues with not being able to control my body temp will make me agitated and then I can faint. Eating while symptomatic will make me faint because the blood will rush to my stomach to digest the food. My lazy blood vessels aren't going to readily pump said blood. The effort to get there will drain me. Despite all of this! The interaction and the distraction can be worth it.

Ideas To Survive Gatherings

To prepare myself I really have to weigh the physical cost and the mental drain that it will take to do engage for long periods of time. I try to mitigate the effects by making certain provisions.

  • Chances are I am going to a person's home that I know very well. If so, I can put dibs on certain seating for comfort and bring things to assist me like pillows or a small blanket. If there is not seating the visit will likely be a drive by.

  • I make sure that I have water and salt. For some reason I can't seem to stay hydrated enough and drinking water pushes out sodium. I need salty foods near by to keep my blood vessels constricted.

  • I try to locate a place where I can disappear to recover if the noise is too much or if I become symptomatic. It may be to just lay down for a few minutes or take a full fledged nap.

  • Have an exit plan. I will have to gauge my symptoms and know when it is time to go and how I am getting there. Will I drive? Who will be my designated driver?

  • I also can't close the party like I used to so I have to know if staying over is an option.

These are a just a few things that allow me to still engage with people that I care about. I take loads of precautions and I weigh things out. The focus has to be on quality, not quantity. I won't make every event but the ones that I do will be worth the sacrifice. It does get harder to do things but when I work smarter it minimizes the down time of recovery.

One day at a time.

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