As I mentioned on Wednesday, the joint pain (and fatigue) that I've been experiencing recently hit a disruptive threshold, such that I decided to drastically reduce the stress and activity I was adding to my day. My body needs all the energy it can to fight off the symptoms, so I have to cut down on the ways my energy is expended, in this case, in the form of a busy, hectic schedule. And while there's no guarantee that lifestyle changes are going to eliminate my lupus symptoms completely, I've found that by reducing my daily emotional and physical "output" (i.e stress, stress, stress), I set myself up for the best chance of making my disease manageable again.
Fortunately, the joint pain is really responding to the increased dosages of medication, per my doctor's orders (600mg plaquenil now, and doubled prednisone daily), but I know for a fact that the lifestyle changes I've made are helping tremendously, too. I can tell that my body appreciates the conscious effort I'm making to take care of myself. Glad it's taking notice!
Here's where I decided to start, focusing each day on adhering to these three guidelines:
1) Take a nap in the 2:00's:
Since we moved back into our house in August, my nap has consistently (though inadvertently) been pushed to start after 3pm. It was, in part, due to the presence of the workers putting the finishing touches on the house (they worked until 3pm), Bernie's ability to go later into the afternoon before she gets sleepy (she's almost 3 years old, so she's slowly cutting out that afternoon nap), and me, just wanting to feel invincible and productive. (Oh, the trouble that brings!!) So here we are, at the end of September, and my body's running at a deficit. I probably could have managed an after-3pm nap for a week, or two, or even three. But for almost two months? I don't think so. The cumulative effect of forcing my body to push through for an extra hour has taken its toll. And now it's time to right the wrong. (Note that I've actually been adding a second nap here and there, and that's making it even easier to manage the symptoms.)
2) Run only one errand a day
Oh, is this ever difficult to do. I've had to pass on lunch dates, forgo quick trips to the grocery, and settle for buying birthday gifts from CVS (gift cards, of course) because I was already there, and I wasn't "allowed" another errand. It's definitely a challenge - but I was running around way too much before, and I'm now paying for it. Of course, because I'm not dashing around town, I've easily been able to make my 2:00 naptime, so at least things are working in concert with one another. Running only an errand a day has made me much more reliant on Johnny (who ends up being the one to run to the store for the gallon of milk), resourceful (ordering lightbulbs online because running to home Depot would be a waste of my errand), and efficient (grouping errands in a side-by-side stores so that they essentially become one.)
These two adjustments are what I call "lock-down", as I end up being relatively house-bound. Aside from the one errand a day, and the requisite trips to drop off and pick up the girls at school (which is less than a mile from the house), I'm at home, and it's been good. I can feel my laid-back, carefree ways making their way to the forefront once more.
3) Exercise 3 x a week
I also realized that because I was always dashing out the door to run errands (or to avoid the presence of the construction guys now and again), I was skimping out on my weekly exercise regimen. I would run a day here, or a day there, but not the consistent 15-20 minutes, three times a week that I've done for years. I was missing out - emotionally and physically - and I decided to fix the problem. The time on the treadmill has become a priority again. There have been a few days when I haven't felt like running at my normal time, but I've found postponing my exercise until after my nap does the trick. It's been good to get moving again...and it's paying off.
In upcoming posts, I'll tell you more about my "homeboundness" - what I've been able to tackle, and what I've chosen not to - at home. It's been important for me to still feel like I'm "doing", and contributing, and I've been able to turn my attention to some of the easily-accomplished tasks that fit the bill. Talk to you next week!
(Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication regimen.)