How To Make Events Easier With Chronic Illness

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Celebrating a special event with others is so joyous! I’m at the age where my nieces and nephews are getting married and having children. Two of my children were married in the last ten years and grand-babies have started to arrive.

Since those two weddings, my health has grown much worse. Even relatives don’t always understand what I’m going through and why I miss out on so many showers, receptions, etc. They’ve seen me dress up and look fine at a few events. I have worn a nice dress and had makeup and hairstyle done.


If I can do all that one time, I should be able to do it every time, right? Although they may expect that from me, it is not always possible. In fact, I actually expect that some events will have to go on without me. I may have spent a lot of money on clothing and accessories, but that doesn’t mean I’ll have the opportunity to wear them.

Sometimes, friends and relatives get offended and don’t believe me when I say that I can’t attend. I have traveled a long way for one wedding, only to be stuck in my hotel with a new dress. That was not only disappointing for me, but expensive.

Being a person with numerous chronic illnesses, I have not been able to count on re-wearing a formal outfit. My weight and swelling has fluctuated throughout the years, based on medications and how they affect my ability to exercise. The expense can be overwhelming because we are retired and there isn’t an income. Many times, young people don’t see that as a reason to skip an event.

Many parties, weddings, etc are held outdoors. Young and healthy people don’t think about the disabled or older person who can’t handle severe heat. There are also menus that aren’t suited for someone with dietary restrictions.


Over time, I’ve tried to plan in advance how to best survive and enjoy a nice event. Here are some ideas that might help you:

  • Women might choose a dress that flows or one that can be worn loose or with a belt. Try to have an outfit that can be “taken in” or “let out”, depending on your size at the moment.
  • An outfit that is floor length can be worn with a light jacket to cover rashes or swelling.
  • Men and women should try on their special clothing at least a month in advance. I had to order clothing online and had some trial and error purchases. It takes extra time when you have to send items back and try again.
  • Keep discount/coupon extensions on your computer to help you save on your purchase. Also, look for free shipping. Amazon has “try before you buy” which helps so that you don’t have to be charged for numerous clothing items until you’ve found just the right outfit.
  • Find out how far you will need to walk at the venue. You may need to take your wheelchair or take a walker or cane. It would be disastrous if there is too much walking and you don’t feel able to do that. My fold-up wheelchair takes up very little room in our trunk and I have a cane that folds up to fit in my purse or suitcase.
  • If the menu won’t work for your dietary issues eat before the event. Have a full meal or just a small sandwich so that you will be full and not have low-blood sugar or nausea during the event. A snack in your purse is also a smart idea.
  • Some events will offer a menu choice. You might be able to select a plate that is satisfactory.
  • Prepare far in advance when you need to purchase airline tickets, lodging, or reserving medical supplies at a rental store.
  • If you find out your health is going to prevent your being able to attend, contact the host as far in advance as you can. Always be gracious and they will usually offer the same back to you.
  • If you make reservations far in advance, it might be better to get vacation insurance. In this way, you can cancel at the last minute and not forfeit the cost.
  • Double check all your medications. It would be disastrous to arrive without necessary pills. I have all my prescriptions filled at a national chain, so that I can easily refill anything without too much extra trouble.

I’ll travel soon to a nephew’s wedding and hope to be able to feel well enough to attend and enjoy the evening. It’s difficult to explain my health limitations, but if I must, I’ll try to be as kind as possible. Although I really hope and pray that I’m feeling decent enough to go, I won’t forget to bring or send a nice gift.

@2024, copyright Lisa Ehrman

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical expert. This post contains my opinions and experiences and this post is not meant to give medical advice. If you have a medical concern, please contact your personal physician.

4 thoughts on “How To Make Events Easier With Chronic Illness”

  1. I know your concerns. I am a survivor of Polio as a child and not I am dealing with Post Polio Syndrom. I have resorted to using a walker and a mobility scooter but I am retaining my positive attitude.

    1. I didn’t know about Post Polio Syndrome. I’m sorry that you have this and now need a walker or scooter. I’m sure that your positive attitude will benefit you every day.

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