Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Goal setting - this time, to help gauge lupus activity

I recently came across another wonderful story in Guidesposts Magazine, this time about a woman making her way through the pain and frustration of physical therapy after a car accident. The story goes that at the recommendation of her trainer, she employed the use of goal-setting to help with her rehabilitation. I'll let you read the inspiring story here, but here's what hit home for me.

In the wake of my frustrating, devastating (albeit short-lived) disease activity about two weeks ago, I decided to make some goals. Goals to keep me on the straight and narrow- so that I didn't fall into the trap of just pushing through, and, equally as important, so I didn't despair. I needed to come up with benchmarks that would motivate me, but that didn't interfere with my recuperation. Things like, "Go to bed immediately after kissing the girls goodnight" one day, or "Resist the urge to make dinner" the next were productive, attainable goals that I could focus on.  Almost like a reverse "to-do" list, in fact. Instead of listing tasks to be done, you list things that ease your life with lupus, anything to make it easier to cope with the symptoms you're experiencing.

I also found that because I had a fun and exciting weekend looming (we were throwing the girls a combo birthday party), I wanted to set a single, long-term goal to aspire to - something that I could only achieve if I behaved myself, rested, and did the least amount possible during the week. This longer-range goal looked more like "Be able to participate in the girls' birthday party". Sure, I was taking a risk by declaring such a goal - but inspired by the story mentioned above, I felt it would only motivate me to do what was needed to be done (which, in this case, was as little as possible) during the week so that I be there for the girls on the weekend.

Note that because lupus has a mind of its own, I made sure I didn't make that long-term goal something like, "Make the girls' birthday cake." If I had, I would have backed myself into a corner, and been pretty darn disappointed, if in fact, I wasn't able to make their cake. (Actually, a good daily goal might have been "Mentally prepare to buy a store-bought cake, if necessary"!)

But my goal-setting paid off. I literally stripped away all to-do's that didn't have to get done the week of my mini-flare, and by Friday afternoon, I felt pretty darn good. Good enough to bake my ladybugs' Hello Kitty cake, good enough to leisurely help them stuff goodie bags for their friends, and good enough to map out where their decorations were going to go. I went to bed super early, and woke up Saturday morning rested and asymptomatic, just as I'd hoped. I didn't go crazy the day of the party, either - and got a good long nap in the afternoon. I even passed on a Doggie Happy Hour I was hoping to take the girls to that evening. I knew my luck (read: energy) had just about run out!

And boy, am I glad that brush with fatigue, swelling, and all the rest is over for now. As mentioned in a previous post, I'm still easing my way back to a normal level of activity. I've passed a day here and a day there on packing for the renovation, and I've even contemplated bringing my dad in to help us finish up what's left to be done. My family's all for it...now to put the Gorman Family pride aside and ask for the help! 

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