FOGO –– Fear Of Going Out
Everybody loves an acronym, and FOMO is one that even the most chill of humans knows well. A fear of missing out –– a fear of missing the coolest party of the year on the night you chose to stay in and watch the new Gilmore Girls. A fear of missing a chance at ~ true love ~ if you pass on a Tinder date with a guy who likes the same bands you do. A fear of missing a great sale, or a funny movie, or just a solid night out with friends that you’ll replay over and over on snapchat later if you don’t go.
Chronically ill people like myself experience FOMO all the time. Being sick (very) often hinders our ability to socialize like fully able people, and I for one can say I’m constantly wondering what funny story or lifelong memory I’m missing out on when my intestines force me in on my couch on a Friday night.
But I’ve noticed that chronic illness has also gifted me another horrible acronym –– FOGO. Fear of going out. Because as much as I want to go dance to Rihanna and drink a vodka soda and be there when someone pukes off a balcony, the FOMO is often outweighed by the FOGO. Fear of going out. Fear of thinking I feel well enough only to be slapped in the proverbial face with pain that I can’t bear out in public.
I always say that if I could have one superpower, it would be teleportation. My general reason is because I live in Chicago, and during Chicago winters nothing sounds more lovely than teleporting home and never touching my boots to snow. But a slightly more real reason is that on more occasions than I could possibly count, I’ve found myself in situations where I’m a lengthy Subway ride away from home and I’m doubled over in pain.
The panic that comes with being in pain in a public setting is immeasurable. That’s why it’s usually easier to stick to my couch, where if the pain comes, I can ride it out with the comfort of my own heating pad. But what happens if I’m out to dinner with friends of friends? What happens if I’m on a date? What happens if I decided to try a cool new bar that’s not at all close to my house, and now I’m clutching my stomach in the fetal position on a 25-minute uber ride home?
These are all the things I think about when I’m weighing whether or not to go out –– the FOGO versus the FOMO. It’s a toss-up on any given day which side of me will win: the adventurous 20-something who just wants to drink and dance and say “fuck it,” or the responsible sick girl who knows that the pain can come at any time and in any circumstances, and Crohn’s disease doesn’t care that you’re on a really solid first date with a guy who doesn’t brag about his summer abroad in Spain.
So I’m not saying I always stay in –– far from it –– but that while my peers are asking themselves what they should wear or what time they need to leave the house to get to a party on time, people with chronic illnesses have a slightly different prep routine that involves making sure you have emergency pain meds on you, knowing the quickest route home if you need it, and keeping your fingers crossed for a night of normalcy.