Friday, January 29, 2010

Toughen Up and Lean Into It

Right now I am learning more about what my new limits are. Since the preliminary diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, I have been able to view my pain and fatigue as symptoms of a condition. I am no longer worried about why I am tired or what is causing my pain. I know that these things are part of my daily life now, and I need to managed them instead of trying to treat them or fall victim to them. It has actually helped improve things all around. Because I am less worried and confused I can spend my energy on more important things - like getting out of bed everyday and being a real person again.

For the past three months, my Wonderful Poppa has been staying with us here. It has become a bit of a tradition, actually, for him to spend the holiday season with us. This year, I have more reasons to be thankful for him than ever before. If it weren't for him and his help, my kids would have been eating potato chips out of the bag for dinner and walking home from school by themselves in the rain. I admit, I probably am too used to him being around. When I am feeling my worst, I am so thankful to be able to call on him for help. When I am feeling not-so-bad, it is great to have him around because he is a really good motivator.

This week WP went back to his own place for a few days to take a break (I don't blame him. If I had a place to escape to, I probably would too.) It has been a test for me, to try and go it without him. Part of the reason that he is such a help to me is that he has car that he generously allows me to use for errands. The other reason I love having him around so much is that occasionally (ok, more than occasionally) he will run my errands for me. Some (most) days he picks up the girls from school for me. When I am too beat to form a decent thought, he makes dinner for the whole family. He will take me grocery shopping or even go shopping for me if I really feel that awful. Mostly though, he is a cheerleader for me. I can't count the times he has pulled my unwilling butt out of bed with a fresh pot of coffee and a few words of encouragement. He has a way of helping me find that little bit of steel I have left in me so I that I can go just a little bit further before giving in.

This week was especially hard without him. There were several appointments to attend this week, and a lot of other things that needed to be done. I got a lot of them done, but I had to rescheduled a few that I couldn't quite make it to. A few times, I just wasn't able to get moving enough to do what needed to be done. Then, I lost 36 straight hours to the same crud that the girls have been suffering from. I felt so icky that I took back to back doses of night time cold medicine day and night until I felt better. That meant, of course, I couldn't even think about driving, so I had to call in round two of my back-up force. My Amazing In-Laws took care of the afternoon pick-ups and Little Heart made her famous and delicious dinner of Macaroni and Cheese and Fish Sticks.

Now, DH is gone for the weekend, too, and it is just me and the girls. I am a little afraid of what condition everything will be in by the time Sunday evening rolls around. I know how much I hate walking into a crazy nightmare of a mess when I have been gone, so I try to make sure things are in order whenever I expect DH to get home from one of his trips. Between the yuckiness that the kids I are still dealing with and the general lack of motivation coming from my side of things, I don't really think a whole lot of progress will be made.
I think the best I could hope for would be that things don't get any worse before the weekend is over.

Doing research on how to cope with FM in your daily life, I found some advice about how to manage daily housework and errands - Don't overdo it on the good days, or your bad days will be worse But  do as much as you can on the bad days, so you don't feel quite so much like you need to play catch-up. Have a set of tasks that much be done every single day to make sure that the daily grind doesn't become overwhelming, but make sure that routine is adaptable to the level of pain and fatigue that might be ruling the day. Don't waste your energy on things that are unnecessary. Ask for help when you need it.

My wonderful mentor FLYLady says something very similar - Make a routine for each part of your day. Do your routines in the same order every day and you will be on "autopilot." The things that need to get done will get done without you realizing it.  She also recommends using these routines as a way to clean different areas of the house that need to be tidied most often so that you are never left with a huge mess. For instance, if you wipe down the bathroom or kitchen counter every day, even when it doesn't look dirty, it will always be clean. The "15 minutes of work at a time" technique is a really good way to keep motivation because, after all, you can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes. Most chores take less than 15 minutes each, anyway.  She also likes to remind all of us FLYBabies to always get dressed to the shoes (even when you don't feel like it) so you will be ready for whatever happens. Don't keep anything in your house that you don't love. Bless others with the things that you don't love. And finally, take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.

A few years ago, I read the biography of a very successful woman, Mary Kay Ash. Whether you love her company, or hate her make up, or whatever, you have to admit that she made a very successful business from some very meager beginnings and she did it AFTER she was already in retirement. Her tips to success read kind of like this: Make a list of the 6 most important things that MUST be done each day, and make sure that list is filled with things that will get your life where it needs to go. Always get dressed every morning as if you had something very important to do. Don't waste dollar hours on penny tasks. Set aside time each day to be alone so that you have time to focus and prepare for what needs to be done. She liked to start her day with some quiet time so she was well known for rising at 5:00am every single day. That takes a lot of discipline to get up before everyone else, every single day, to make sure that your day started off right. It must have worked because her company sells one of the most recognized and successful lines of skin care and cosmetics in the entire world.

When you get the same advice from more than one source, and those sources are all successful and positive, you should probably listen. I doubt that I will be starting my own mega-corporation any time soon, but I know I could use some of those tips to have a more productive day. I used to think that following this kind of advice was great, but not totally necessary. Now, I think it might be a bit more crucial to my sanity than I originally thought. If routines will help me become more balanced and enable me to manage my pain and fatigue, then that is what I need to do. I refuse to let this condition, or whatever it is, deprive me of a good life, my kids of their mother, my and husband of his wife. I am going to keep that thought in my mind as my motivation to get up and stay moving, as much as I am ever able to.

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