We all know about the choices involved with living with lupus - the prioritizing, the to-do lists slashed in half, the "cut back here in order to get back there" concept, but as I mentioned on Friday, I'm realizing that my motto of "choose well" could just as well be "choose one." Know what I mean?
The first chapter of my book is entitled "Choose Well" - because in the 9 and 1/2 years I've had lupus, I've realized that everyday, I have a choice to make. Am I going to do everything I can to manage my disease, to control the role it plays in my life - or am I going to egg her on, push the envelope, and allow her the chance to take center stage? For me, that's what it comes down to. Choose well or let lupus flare.
Sometimes I make really good choices across the board...I nap when I need to and for as long as I need to, I choose one errand over another, and I prioritize my evenings activities. Other times, I taunt the disease a little, but not enough for her to make a solid appearance. Still other times, well, I just get a little carried away. I lose sight of my limitations, allow my determined, perfectionist, driven personality to take over for just a bit, and find myself nursing a few joints back to health. Thankfully, because I've become accustomed to making those choices every single day, and because each day is a brand new day, I have the chance to start over each morning. So I never get too frustrated with myself...because there will always be another opportunity to choose well.
Now I don't know about you, but when I don't make the best, most sound choices for my health, it's because the waters have been muddied, and unfortunately, it's as I've knelt down and deliberately drudged up the mud myself! I convince myself that maybe I don't really know what my limitations are...that maybe this time will be different...that maybe I'll surprise myself by not getting too tired, achy, or bleary-eyed when I push myself. Truth is, I know EXACTLY what I can handle, it's just my mind that tries to play tricks. That's where this epiphany about choosing one seems to make things a little easier. Here's what I mean:
The other morning, I woke up around 7:30am...traditionally about 30-45 minutes before Deirdre wakes up. I was still tired, but I desperately wanted to send off an email first thing that morning...and I knew if I did it before she was up, it would happen. Otherwise, it might be 11am before I got back to my computer. So - I opted to turn on my computer, open up my email, compose the message, and hit send. Done. Mission accomplished.
But wait...I had messages in my in-box. Should I look at them now, or shut down my computer and potentially get another 30 minutes of sleep? Well - the waters were looking particularly muddy that morning, so I strolled through my in-box to see if anything needed tending to. Of course, I convinced myself that I would just take 2 minutes to do this...but 22 minutes later, I was still browsing and responding to the new messages. Ugh! I stopped what I was doing and shut down my email. I told myself to just stop while I was already behind...but it was too late. As soon as I abandoned my in box, I decided to check one quick thing online, just because it would be so much easier to do so before Deirdre was up. Eek! Duped again! Now here I was - 39 minutes after I'd sent the original email...when who do you suppose started making a little boo hoo from her crib. That's right - one Miss Deerdee Gorman. So I traded in an extra 30+ minutes of shut eye for what? I can't even really tell you! Sure I responded to a few non-urgent emails, but what of it? Was it really worth it? I don't think so. Bottom line - if I'd chosen to stop at "one" - at the ONE email I was going to send - I would have been able to get a little extra rest and been fresh and ready to go for the morning. It wasn't a major catastrophe by any means...but the score was set - and I was down a point.
Next choice I had came a few hours later, when Deirdre, Darwin and I set off for our morning walk. I had planned to walk to the dry cleaners, not more than 3/4 of a mile from our house, in order to pick up the dry cleaning that I really needed to get. It had been on my to-do list for several days, but I just hadn't had a chance to stop and pick it up. Here was a great opportunity to get some exercise AND cross off a to-do.
But here was my dilemma: the walk to and from the cleaners would take a good 45 minutes to an hour (primarily because Darwin doesn't understand that he need not christen every tree, bush, and cable box along our path), the path there and back is in full sun, and it was warming up quickly that day. Not ideal walking conditions for this lupite, a fair-skinned baby, and a fully furred pug dog, to say the least. What do I do? I REALLY wanted to get my dry cleaning...but I REALLY wanted to walk, too. I didn't have to choose between the two - but would it be a good idea if I did? You bet. So I chose to forgo the dry cleaning, and Dar, Deer and I took a nice leisurely stroll close to our house, in the shade - and enjoyed every minute of it. The tables were turning. The score was even.
Last true story of the day - upon returning from our walk, Deirdre and I hopped in the car and headed off to do a few errands. We were running a little late as we pulled out of the driveway - as I was pushing up against Deirdre's nap time at 1pm. (Okay- let's face it. That's MY nap time, too. And since I was up a little earlier than normal that morning, I needed to stick to the 1pm time frame.) So I looked at my list - with several errands staring me in the face. Two of them had cropped to the top of the list...both were equally important, and of course, both were in opposite directions. Ugh! These choices! But I kept a level head - kept my hands out of the mud, and chose to run only one of them. Deirdre and I returned home. ate lunch, and breezed into nap time right around 1pm. And you know? I was feeling particularly accomplished, regardless of how many items remained on my list that afternoon. I was in bed, feeling cool, calm and collected...knowing that that I had the upper hand now. Two points to me, thank you very much.