Friday, July 11, 2014

The instinct to "do" - a lupus liability for sure.

It's hard to teach this old dog new tricks. Or rather, it's hard to keep a "doer" from doing.

A few weeks ago, I had a case of poison ivy. It wasn't awful, but it was bad enough that I needed to treat it repeatedly with Zanfel, my favorite p.i. wash. I used it several days in a row - and to effectively use the wash, you have to wet your hands slightly, rub a small amount of Zanfel vigorously between your hands to activate the ingredient, and then rub vigorously on the affected area for 30 seconds or more. I had it on both legs, my torso, and a couple of spots on my arm - so I had some serious rubbing to do. I didn't notice any pain in my wrists or finger joints as I was applying the Zanfel (I was too focused on the relief of the pain and itching!), but after a few days of using the Zanfel, my wrists were definitely sore. I'd given them a real work out.

On one of the last days I used the Zanfel, I was determined to get rid of the itching once and for all, and my joints didn't like my increased efforts. I woke up the next morning with significant pain in my wrist - most decidedly from my Zanfel exploits the night before. I started out my day trying to use it as little as possible, but quickly realized I needed to make my arm inaccessible in order to resist the urge to use it. So I put on a light jacket with pockets so I could keep my injured wrist in the pocket while I went about my day. I set up the girls with breakfast, did some light dishes, and organized some paperwork easily with one hand. My resting efforts were a success - and within 45 minutes or so, I noticed the pain was diminishing.

I continued with my morning, tidying up the kitchen and checking email, being mindful of my pocketed hand the whole time. Just then, Darwin scratched at the door to go outside. I let him out, but remembered that I'd wanted to check around the yard to see where that nasty P.I. was coming from. (There are two spots along Darwin's yard path where P.I. typically re-grows each summer, so I wanted to see if those were, in fact, the sources of the P.I.) I followed Dar outside, with hand in pocket, just planning on browsing the yard to check for the plants. Sure enough, I found a tiny little three leaved P.I. plant right in the middle of Darwin's step off the back patio. Continuing with my hand in my pocket, I decided to check around the yard for the other possible spots, and I saw three more plants that were all in Darwin's high traffic areas.  Once I spied the culprits, I knew I couldn't leave them there. I grabbed a pair of clippers from the garage, forgot all about my hand, and began to clip away at the P.I., being sure not to come in contact with the P.I. (I've gotten pretty good at removing a P.I. plant here and there!)

As I was finishing up the third spot, all the while rejoicing in my accomplishment, and with plans to start checking the perimeter of the yard for other P.I. spots, I stopped and realized what I was doing. Just moments ago, I'd been inside, nursing my wrist because it was in pain. Now, here I was outside, with a pair of over-sized hedge clippers in hand, doing yard work. What was I thinking?

For those of you who tend to "do", you know exactly what I was thinking. My instincts kicked in, and I thought of nothing except the task at hand. There was a job to be done, and I was naturally going to tackle it. The thought of letting that task fall to someone else, or even worse, putting it off until later in the day is one that didn't even occur to me. Actually, maybe it DID occur to me, but it probably seemed like such a ridiculous notion that I automatically dismissed it. I can't be sure - but what I am sure about is that I went from nursing my hand to neglecting it pretty quickly.

Once I realized my folly, I put down the clippers. The other P.I. spots would just have to wait. I went back inside, washed up, and returned my hand to its proper place in my pocket for the rest of the morning. I made sure I stayed away from any taxing, two handed to-do's, tempting myself as little as possible. But oh, did I envision the possibilities!

As I looked out onto our backyard, admiring my handiwork (even if it was deemed a poor decision on my part), I decided that this P.I. incident was a good reminder to not let this kind of thing happen on a grander scale. I can think of many times in the past when I've been swept up by tasks or to-do lists - unintentionally putting my health at risk, but not being aware enough to stop before it was too late. Thankfully, I've made some progress in my time with lupus. Not enough to forgo the clippers completely, of course...but I think every little step in the right direction counts!  

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