Last month, one of my childhood best friends had his bachelor party in Vancouver, B.C. It was a big one — more than 15 dudes — made up of guys from his days growing up in San Francisco, and his college days in UC Santa Barbara.
Going into the weekend, there was a lot of momentum. I was excited to be with my friends for a weekend, as the older we get, the more challenging it is for all of us to take off work and spend money freely. As the date neared, though, I wondered how my rheumatoid arthritis (RA) would play a factor. Having lived to tell the tale, I have some thoughts on planning for a bachelor party, or any long weekend getaway with friends, while taking into account your RA.
1. Opt out of drinking
The booze is probably the first (or second) thing that comes to mind when you think of a bachelor party. But, with common prescriptions of methotrexate (or other disease modifying antirheumatic drugs), people with RA must always be wary of alcohol intake because of dangers to the liver.
My thoughts: You are with friends who (likely) already know of your condition and its limitations. Friends are understanding, and they care about you, so do not feel bad if you turn down some drinks. Alcohol intake and loyalty to friends have no correlation, and you will be around adults who understand that.
2. Preview menus to make diet-friendly requests
A big crowd of revelers comes with a need for a big restaurant reservation, and sometimes, set menus. With RA, sometimes we have our own set menus that are important to stick with in order to fend off potential inflammation. Of course, no one wants to be that one person asking the chef to "abracadabra" a dish from scratch.
To avoid this, I suggest doing some preliminary investigation: Will there be any set menus, and if so, is it possible to see one beforehand? With early notice, restaurants are likelier to be able to accommodate, and this avoids the awkward 10-minute conversation when you’re leaning into the waiter, quietly asking ingredient questions that they'll have to relay to the chef.
3. Know your limits with physical activity
Outings can be great bonding time. And these activities can vary greatly depending on where you are, and what time of year it is. For me, if my wrist is up for it, I love a round of golf in the sun. It isn’t overwhelming on the body, it’s leisurely, and it allows for time with friends. I also love hiking for the same reasons.
Snowboarding on the other hand, is my nightmare. I flinch at just the thought of breaking a fall with my wrist. Again, you are not obligated to tumble down black diamond slopes in agony just because your friends are. I have gleefully opted out of such capers, and stayed back at the cabin reading, and writing. No one guilt trips me or makes me feel weird, though they do throw the occasional joke. Which I invite.
4. Don’t let these be reasons not to show up
Sometimes we allow ourselves to be defined by our condition. We keep it on our front burner, and it occupies a significant portion of our conscious minds. We think in advance, but perhaps too far in advance. We let worries determine more than they have to. I think it’s important on weekends like these to remember how important our friends are in our lives, and forget about our personal concerns as much as we can.
Don’t put yourself in pain, and don’t make any grave sacrifices, but I do think it’s important to find a balance. Remember this is a weekend for your friend. Sure, it’s frustrating to have limitations other party guests won’t have, and weekends like these may serve as glaring reminders. But I have faith in our ability to see the bigger picture, and to let our appreciation for friendship and community override any other feeling we might have.