Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lupus tools - Arm yourself well

We recently bought a new vacuum cleaner, and it's heavenly! We went crazy and purchased a lightweight, yet heavy duty upright vacuum (read: expensive), and it has changed my life.

Yup - it ranks right up there with the experience I had when my new washer arrived. Read my reluctance to pull the trigger on that appliance purchase here, if you wish. But just know that I am slowly learning my lesson and realizing that it really pays to upgrade your appliances when they break.

To start with - my old vacuum was heavy. It was hard to push, hard to haul up and down the stairs, and hard to turn because it was anything but flexible. At least one of the rollers was broken on the bottom, so it dragged on the carpet almost like a suction - so moving it back and forth was a very painful process. It took twice as long as it should to vacuum a room, and the hose attachments were almost all broken. Vacuuming my house, to say the least, was not an enjoyable task.

But fast forward to my new vacuum - it's light, and easy to handle, with all the flexibility of an extension of my arm. It cuts my time in half (literally - I timed it), and because the head of the vacuum is so small, I haven't had to use an attachment yet.

So with one purchase, I have transformed the chore of vacuuming into something that actually isn't much of a chore at all. At least - my hands don't hurt after using it, my back isn't sore from lugging it, and the time it takes to vacuum isn't wasted.

I look back on the years of using my old vacuum, and I can see how I was literally handicapping myself. I didn't have the tools I needed to get the job done - so as is often the case, the job wasn't done at all. Today, my house is cleaner on a daily basis than it's been in a long time, simply because I'm willing and able to carve out the 7 minutes it takes to vacuum the main areas - no pain required.

This concept of handicapping myself reminds me a lot of my old days with lupus - the days when I wasn't taking advantage of the tools I had at my disposal. Instead of utilizing my resources, I would try and hold out for as long as I could, thinking it was building stamina or resistance. I would just grin and bear it, when what I was doing was literally handicapping myself so that life with lupus was harder than it had to be. When I think back, the tools I wish I'd utilized from the beginning are as follows:

My doctor - I was always reticent to call him when something was wrong. Maybe I thought he'd "break up" with me, maybe I thought he'd be mad. Whatever the reason, I held off on calling his office way too often. Now I know - from experience - that it never hurts to phone the doctor. The worst they can say is that they'll see you at the next appointment. The best? "Let's have you come in today."

My spreadsheet - You know I'm a fan of tracking my disease activity, but I didn't always keep a spreadsheet. I kept it "all in my head" for way too long, and I wish I hadn't missed out on the opportunity to see in black and white, what was going on with my disease. Had I started earlier, I probably could have identified patterns, consequences, and cause and effect relationships that much sooner. I found this to be an invaluable tool that still helps me today.

My downtime - I definitely underestimated the value of rest. I had myself convinced that it was much better to cram as much as possible into a block of time, rather than break it up into smaller, more manageable increments of time. I felt as though lupus was robbing me of time - as if I didn't do something sooner, I wouldn't have any energy to do it later. But it turns out that it's the exact opposite. If I give myself time to rest in the middle of a string of activities, I'm able to last much longer than if I'd just gone full steam ahead. I don't run out of energy at all; I actually gain energy while resting and my productivity increases tenfold. Or so it seems.

I think the biggest difference is that by breaking up my activities with rest, I no longer have to account for the loss in productivity during the hours when I'm pushing through to the end - that time where I've lost the ability to think clearly, speak articulately, or act responsibly. Resting allows me to avoid those moments altogether - because I'm simply sleeping before I get there!

These are just three of the many tools I've used along the path to living well. I could go on - listing everything from Babysitters to Medicines to Good Grips Kitchen Utensils - but I'll stop here and open it up to the floor. Any handy-dandy tools in your toolbox that, today, you wouldn't want to go without?







2 comments:

Debs said...

There's a couple of items I use everyday, multiple times, that I'd hate to do without. One is a set of sissors that grip my 1 liter LaCroix soda cans & give me the grip I need to get those open about 4 times a day. My husband orders things from computer magazines by the bulk. Unplugging some things is difficult. He ordered me an extra cord for my laptop so I don't have to unplug it to carry from one room to the family room when I need to elevate my legs. Now I've asked him if the money wasn't too much to order extra charges for my iphone. It wasn't. Now instead of unplugging it from the night stand & dragging it to the office & family room, I have 3!! I'm mostly excited because the outlet in the bedroom doesn't work as well. If I turn it the wrong way when plugging in the cord again, I may have to try to sleep with the night light turned toward me & interfering with my sleep. Yes a couple of extra chargers or plugs have helped a lot. Also, I think we have a pair of sissors in every drawer in the kitchen now. It seems plastic has to be cut off the orange juice these days or there's cardboard attached to it before you can open it. One more wonderful thing is a plug that has an eject switch on it. I leave the other side plugged into my hairdryer. Instead of fighting with the hairdryer everytime I want to put it away, i just pust this yello lever & the plug is out of the wall. Very simple. I've starting taking pictures of these items. I need to have a little catalogue for when I need to order more of them.

Sara Gorman said...

These are great ideas - just the kinds of things I was thinking about. And I second the "extra power cord" idea. We recently had a laptop go kaput, and as luck would have it, the power cord fits our other laptop. So now we have two, and it's been glorious! I keep one up and one downstairs, and it really is a time saver, joint saver, etc. Now the eject switch on the plug is something I'm not familiar with - will totally check that out. Thanks so much for commenting.