Monday, October 25, 2010

The chronic control spreadsheet - making it your own

Many of you know, from both my blog and my book, that during my darkest hours with lupus, I found solace in what I call the "chronic control" spreadsheet: a simple excel spreadsheet that I used to track my symptoms, medications, hours worked, hours napped, and other lifestyle factors that seemed to be contributing to my illness. It worked like a charm - allowing me to better articulate the degree of disease activity to my doctor, and forcing me (because it was there in black and white) to make connections between my lifestyle and my disease that I wouldn't have made otherwise. Most importantly at the time, it gave me back a little bit of control that I had lost during those first few years with lupus. I so desperately needed to exert myself - and doing so with pen and paper was a whole lot smarter than trying to run my body into the ground.

Since coming up with this spreadsheet years ago, I've shared the concept with many people - and I even devote a chapter to the concept of managing and tracking the disease in my book. I've received a ton of feedback about the spreadsheet, and I'm pleased to report that others seemed to have found the exercise just as helpful as I did. What makes me even happier is that readers have shared with me their own personal tweaks and adjustments to the spreadsheet, all in an effort to get on the track of living well. I couldn't ask for anything more!

I thought I'd share just a few examples of readers who have written in to Despite Lupus headquarters with their spreadsheet success stories:

One woman wrote me over a year ago, attaching her own version of the spreadsheet, saying that it had completely changed (and improved) the way she and her doctor communicate during appointments. Hooray!

Another woman (a teacher) contacted me a few months back, letting me know that several of the kids in her summer school class had chronic illnesses or other issues where a "tracking" system of sorts would come in handy - and that the spreadsheet was to become their summer project. Wow!

And most recently, a girl shared with me that she had been so vocal about how important she thought having a spreadsheet would be for her chronic illness, her boyfriend actually created one within days of her diagnosis. It came complete with terms of affection and a picture of the two of them at the top. Pretty cool, huh?

Think you may need a way to get a better handle on your disease? Take another peek at chapter two of my book - perhaps it's not a spreadsheet that fits the bill, but maybe one of the other tracking systems recommended will do the trick. Whatever you choose, tweak it, tailor it, and make it your own. And then be sure to let me know about it!

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